Signee Baye Ndongo: Why he chose Georgia Tech basketball, how he got there

Forward Baye Ndongo of Putnam Science Academy announced his commitment to Georgia Tech May 19, 2023. (Eric Boss/247Sports)

Credit: Eric Bossi

Credit: Eric Bossi

Forward Baye Ndongo of Putnam Science Academy announced his commitment to Georgia Tech May 19, 2023. (Eric Boss/247Sports)

Baye Ndongo committed to Rutgers when Karl Hobbs was an assistant coach there and rescinded his decision when Hobbs left Rutgers to join coach Damon Stoudamire’s staff at Georgia Tech.

It wasn’t a complete certainty that the four-star prospect from Senegal would follow Hobbs to Tech, but it became a possibility where it had not been previously.

“I like Georgia Tech, and I want to go there,” Ndongo told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “I think Hobbs is not the main reason why, but he’s a big reason.”

The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Ndongo became the first high-school prospect to commit to Tech since Stoudamire’s hire in March, joining six newcomers arriving via the transfer portal. He announced his commitment Friday.

Ndongo committed to Rutgers in January and then decommitted in April after Hobbs’ hiring at Tech as Stoudamire’s associate head coach. In this decision, Ndongo picked Tech over Nebraska and Georgetown.

“I could go somewhere else, but I’ve got Hobbs there (at Tech),” Ndongo said. “I’ve basically got everything I need over there, and I’ve got a chance to go to the (NBA) if I just do my thing.”

Ndongo, rated the No. 120 prospect and No. 27 power forward in the 2023 class (247Sports Composite), completed his high-school career with Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut. He transferred there from Colorado Prep in Denver. His first high school in the U.S. after arriving from Senegal was the Darrow School, a boarding school in upstate New York.

“Baye is a versatile and talented forward who has the ability to play on the perimeter as well as with his back to the basket,” Stoudamire said in a news release Wednesday announcing that Ndongo had signed a grant-in-aid with Tech. “He’s a terrific rebounder and a relentless competitor. He’s humble, thankful and appreciative, which are qualities we place high value on here at Georgia Tech.”

Ndongo said he began playing basketball at the age of 14 or 15 growing up in Mboro, Senegal, a town up the coast from the capital city of Dakar in the west African nation.

Ndongo first played soccer, but he began to shift to basketball after he said his father forced him to accompany his sister to basketball practice to make sure she was safe. Eventually, rather than watching practice, he began playing. He didn’t like it at first, but then he had a growth spurt of four or five inches. Now too tall for soccer, he stuck with basketball.

That led to his enrollment at SEED Academy, an institution dedicated to developing African players athletically and academically. Many graduates play collegiately in the U.S. Former Tech forward Abdoulaye Gueye trained there before coming to the U.S. for high school.

Ndongo went on to play for Senegal in the 2021 U19 Basketball World Cup, where he averaged 7.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in seven games. He is quick off the floor and can handle the ball well for a player his size. He’ll have competition for playing time with the frontcourt players that Stoudamire has brought from the transfer portal, Tafara Gapare (Massachusetts), Ebenezer Dowuona (N.C. State) and Tyzhaun Claude (Western Carolina).

“I’m a basketball player,” he said. “Whatever a basketball player does on the court, I’ve got it in me.”

Michigan, Arizona State, Colorado and Mississippi State were among other schools to make scholarship offers. As a member of the Rutgers staff, Hobbs stood out to Ndongo.

“Coach Hobbs is my guy,” Ndongo said. “I don’t know, but I just had a type of feeling that he cares. He just wants to help, and he’s doing his job at the same time.”

A visit to Tech after his decommitment from Rutgers allowed him to get to know Stoudamire, too.

“He’s a good guy,” Ndongo said. “He’s cool. He’s always teaching people.”

Ndongo said he plans to study business and return to Senegal after his basketball career ends to help the next generation of Senegalese basketball players. He expected to arrive at Tech in about two weeks.