Hamady Ndiaye is back from Ottawa, Ontario, where he spent the past two days getting a work visa that will allow him to play in the NBA for another season. Ndiaye provided updates on his travels on his Twitter account and managed to make a joke about Canada and its most well-known rapper in the process.
“I forgot how cold it gets up here. Thts prob why drake sound depressed sometimes,” he wrote.
With the NBA players and owners not approving the latest collective bargaining agreement until Thursday night, Ndiaye and first-round draft pick Jan Vesely both had to wait before they were allowed to prove employment in the league. Vesely worked out at Verizon Center on Thursday, a day after arriving from Prague, where he had to wait for a nearly week to get his work visa settled.
Ndiaye, the 6-foot-11 second-year big man, has been invited to training camp but is expected to make the team and be the third center for the Wizards. At 24, Ndiaye is actually one year older than starter JaVale McGee, who is entering his fourth season.
Ndiaye didn’t get much playing time last season, getting sent down to the Developmental League’s Dakota Wizards before developing a knee injury. He got healthy this offseason and worked out mostly in Washington with trainer Joe Connelly and teammate Andray Blatche.
He said the extended lockout actually helped him. “Yes definitely, no doubt about it. Yes, we didn’t get paid. Yes, there were a couple of games lost and a whole lot of drama going into it, but at the same time, I just took the opportunity and got better. That’s all I needed so that I can show people that I can show people that I’m on the verge and have potential to really be great one day.”
Ndiaye was the Big East defensive player of the year at Rutgers and is known for his ability to block shots and defend. He struggled offensively as a rookie, appearing overwhelmed and uncomfortable in his rare appearances, and focused on getting more consistent with his jump shot and developing a go-to move inside.
“Improved all of my moves in the paint, driving, seeing the rim, vision of the game has improved,” Ndiaye said. “Me and Joe have been in the gym two and sometimes three times a day. I think I did a great job, at least that’s the feedback I get. I keep up with everybody on the team. It’s going to be fun to see everyone come back and what the environment’s going to look like and what were going to be able to accomplish in this short year.”
When he arrived back in Washington on Thursday, Ndiaye asked in a text message, “Was I missed?”
That’ll probably be determined in the next few weeks.