Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-6 basketball center who left UC Irvine after his junior season to pursue professional opportunities, could soon land on the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Drive, a National Basketball Development League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.
Ndiaye, a two-time Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year who helped UCI make its first NCAA Tournament appearance as a Division I program in 2015, was signed by the Pistons and worked out with the team Saturday, before being waived later in the day.
Rob Johnson, director of operations for the Drive, said it is common practice for an NBA team to sign players in order to gain their rights for the D-League.
Johnson said the D-League draft will be held Oct. 30 and training-camp rosters in preparation for the Nov. 11 season opener will be released soon after.
Ndiaye, 23, was not chosen in the NBA draft in June after averaging 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots for UCI in the 2015-16 season. UCI won a school-record 28 games and reached the final of the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament. His 218 career blocks rank No. 1 at UCI and No. 3 in the Big West.
Ndiaye played for the Golden State Warriors’ team in the Las Vegas Summer League. In three games, he did not score and averaged 1.7 rebounds and had one blocked shot in just fewer than six minutes per game. Ndiaye missed both of his field-goal attempts.
Ndiaye, a native of Dakar Senegal, was the CIF 5AA Player of the Year as a senior at Brethren Christian High, for which he averaged 27 points, 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.