From Africa to America

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Senior Demba Konate and junior Boubacar Moungoro are one step closer to their dreams of attending college in America and playing college basketball after their efforts at the AAU Super Showcase in July.

Moungoro, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound swingman and Konate, a 6-9, 210-pound forward, came to America from Bamako Mali, Africa, through a foundation started by New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire. Both players live with families in the Orlando area, attend West Oaks Academy in Orlando and played for the AAU program, Each 1 Teach 1.

"The opportunities provided to us by Amar'e Stoudemire and his foundation is something that completely changed my life," Konate said. "The education benefits are really what make the difference for us.

"I love learning the game of basketball and competing with this team, but being able to go to a good school and receive a quality education is the biggest gift."

Konate said that he's being looked at by several programs, including Memphis and Florida. His game remains a work in progress, but he's prepared for a strong year with West Oaks.

"The one difference when I got here was the physical nature of basketball and I have to continue to get more weight on me to be able to handle that kind of play," Konate said. "I feel like I do some things well, I run the floor well and I continue to improve my shooting.

"I will need to be better with my back to the basket though. I am continuing to work on that."

Each 1 Teach 1 assistant coach Burney Hayes said that Konate has his best basketball ahead of him.

"He's still a raw talent but you can see him starting to put the pieces together and he's going to continue to get better throughout the year," Hayes said. "One college is going to get a steal because once Demba puts it all together, he's going to be a solid player."

Moungoro is a rising star and could be one of the state's best swingmen in the Class of 2014. He had an impressive showing (16 points, nine rebounds) in the Jordan Brand Classic International Game in April. Moungoro already has drawn the interest of programs such as Missouri and Florida.

Like Konate, Moungoro is thankful to Stoudemire's foundation, which provided his scholarship.

"It's been a very long summer traveling and playing with [Each 1 Teach 1] but it's been very productive as well," Moungoro said. "Mr. Stoudemire has really given me a great opportunity to do things in basketball and in education."

Moungoro said that he has to continue to work on his dribbling and his ball movement, but believes his game is going in the right direction.

"I have had more time to prepare for the physical play that I've experienced over the past few months," Moungoro said. "I am focused on increasing my strength as well as other parts of my game over the next year."

Hayes said Moungoro has star potential.

"He's going to be a good one if he keeps developing like he has been so far," Hayes said. "He has a lot of upside and if he continues to work hard and improve on the little things, he's going to be one of our big names next year."

Both players said they want to use their experiences through Each 1 Teach 1 to help them work with young athletes in similar opportunities.

"Hopefully one day I can do something for people similar to what Amar'e Stoudemire has done for us," Konate said. "That means helping other young athletes from difficult situations have better opportunities to get quality education and go to college."