Saer Sene: "I feel ready for any challenge"
Saer Sene: I started playing on the playground. There was a basketball court near our house in Senegal and I started playing there at first. My dad wanted me to play. I left my school and went to a private school to become a mechanic, but my dad pushed me to basketball. He wanted me to play.
You moved to Belgium a couple of years ago. How was the transition from Africa to Europe for you?
SS: At the beginning, it was very, very difficult for me to leave my family in Senegal and live my life here in Belgium. I was alone in my apartment and it was not really easy for me to adapt. It was a tough road that I chose, but it is the way it is. I had to understand the mentality of the people here, how to deal with people here... But my teammates were very helpful and finally I adapted to this new life.
You are entering the draft this year. Why this year and not last year or wait till next season?
SS: Last year, I was not ready at all. This year, after the Nike Hoop Summit game, I really started to feel ready for any challenge and I thought I was in a good position to be drafted.
Do you have a general idea of what's ahead for you during the draft process?
SS: No, not much. (Jeremy Medjana, Saer Sene's manager, intercedes and says that the agency is going to explain step by step what's coming for him in May and June).
Are you going to take part in workouts in the States?
SS: Yes, I'm going to the the United States right after the season. When the season is over here, I'm going to Orlando to work with a private coach there.
When does your season in Belgium come to an end?
SS: I have just three games left and after that, I'm free. The season finishes on May 13 for me. Right after that, I'm leaving for the States.
Was at the Nike Hoop Summit game that you first became aware of the interest the NBA people had in you or had you noticed they were interested before?
SS: I think people found that I had NBA talent at the Nike Hoop Summit. Before that, NBA teams had seen me play at the Reebok Eurocamp and the Adidas Superstar Camp, but at the time nobody thought I could be an NBA player. But after the Nike Hoop Summit, people was like "Wow, this guy can be an NBA player."
Have you felt any extra pressure because of the NBA attention?
SS: No, I don't feel no pressure. I'm just happy for the attention and ready challenge. I see the scouts at the games, but I don't feel any extra pressure.
What do you think you will have to prove to the NBA people in order to get drafted?
SS: What I think I need to show in order to draw more attention is that I'm a great rebounder and a great shot blocker. The rest will come in time.
And what do you think are your main weaknesses as a player?
SS: The shot. And some low-post moves.
Do you think you can play a little bit at the power forward spot?
SS: I feel pretty comfortable playing at center. But at the same time, if I work on it, I think I can also be a power forward.
Was there any economical pressure that pushed you to enter the draft this year? It happens with many college players that go pro early because they need to provide for their families. Is this the case with you?
SS: No, that's not a problem. The financial situation is not a problem. (His manager says that money is not a concern for him since he has a contract with Charleroi that pays him well and his family is not money-hungry anyway. The buyout of his contract is not really expensive – just the maximum NBA teams are allowed to pay under league rules).
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com. Jeremy Medjana, Saer Sene's manager, helped conduct the interview
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