Hamady Ndiaye has watched two of his closest teammates – Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin – pursue opportunities overseas during the lockout but said recently that he isn’t ready to follow them just yet.
Unlike Booker and Seraphin, Ndiaye is not under contract for next season and would be taking on more risk were he to get injured playing elsewhere. Ndiaye’s agent, Marc Cornstein, said on Wednesday that Ndiaye’s first priority is to return to the Wizards, who extended him a qualifying offer worth $963,872 last May that made him a restricted free agent whenever the labor dispute is settled.
Cornstein added that they would engage in more serious talks should the lockout linger. But Ndiaye’s “wait and see” approach hasn’t equated to sitting idly this offseason. “I got a lot of stuff accomplished,” said Ndiaye, who completed his communications degree at Rutgers and began to lay the groundwork for a foundation in his native Senegal.
Ndiaye received the least amount of playing time of that Wizards rookie trio, and even had a stint in the Development League last season. The enthusiastic 6-foot-11 big man scored only 14 points in 16 games and had as many blocked shots as field goal attempts (five) but was encouraged about his future in Washington when the team gave him the qualifying offer.
“I’m glad. I’m glad. I love the Wizards,” Ndiaye said. “They gave me this opportunity and guys on this team are like family to me, so having this qualifying offer is a big thing for me. I was glad they are considering bringing me back. At the same time, it’s a lockout and a lot of things are hinging on the rosters, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
Ndiaye went to his hometown of Dakar for two weeks in July and gave food and other items to an area orphanage. The trip served many purposes for Ndiaye, since it allowed him to give back – and lose some weight. Ndiaye dealt with knee and ankle injuries last season and attributed some of his problems to not being in the best shape.
“I gained weight sitting on the bench all season. You’re running all the time in practice, but you’re still gaining weight,” said Ndiaye, who lost about 10 pounds during his time in Africa. “All of the bad weight that I put on. They call it grown man weight, but I feel a lot more comfortable in my body now.”
Ndiaye also feels more comfortable in his game. He was one of the three participants in Andray Blatche’s workouts last month and spent some time working on some post moves that he has been developing since the season ended. “It was a lot of fun, just knowing how far I can push my body and how great I can be,” he said. “I’m still getting better. I’ve made moves sometimes, I’m like, ‘Wow, this move really works.’ I’m growing, being more mature and a lot smarter about my game. I’m 100 times better.”