Mamadou Ndiaye grew up in North Carolina and his athletic pursuits were limited to pickup games in football and soccer.
His family moved to Laurel when he was in eighth grade and Ndiaye played organized sports for the first time when he started with basketball at Eisenhower Middle School on Briarwood Drive.
"I found out I was pretty good," he said. "I really wasn't into sports as a kid."
He was certainly a quick learner, as Ndiaye then made the varsity team as a freshman at Laurel High School under head coach Torrence Oxendine.
Ndiaye is now a reserve sophomore forward at Division I Saint Peter's, a New Jersey school that is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
After two years at Laurel High he played as a junior and senior in Columbia at Oakland Mills High, which won the class 2A state title in 2015 when he averaged 13.6 points per contest.
"Coming out of high school I was thinking of doing a prep school year," he said. "Talking with my parents and family members I decided I wanted to go to [a four-year] college. I thought Saint Peter's was the best option. I went on a visit and it was a program that I could develop at, not only as a better player, but better person. I felt Saint Peter's fit that mold."
Saint Peter's was picked to finish fourth in the MAAC this season by The Sporting News, behind Monmouth, Siena and Iona.
The Peacocks were 14-16 overall and 12-8 in conference play last season.
Saint Peter's began conference play this season Dec. 2 with a 79-65 loss to Iona as Ndiaye played sparingly.
"They are one of the best teams and it was a really competitive game," the 6-foot-7 Ndiaye said. "We hung in there with them. I feel we can compete with anyone in our league. We can beat anyone when we are locked in and ready to play."
Two days later, the Peacocks won a MAAC contest against Manhattan, 84-70, as the Laurel High product had seven points in 12 minutes off the bench.
"I feel it can be a special year if everyone puts the team first," he said.
In the first 13 games he averaged 6.8 minutes, 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest for the 6-7 Peacocks.
"I feel my role on the team is to come in with the second unit and provide energy and rebound," he said. "I may not play a bunch of minutes but when I do play I play as hard as I can."
One of his teammates is Nick Griffin, who is from Rockville and transferred from George Washington University. Griffin was averaging 9.3 points per game in the first 13 contests.
Ndiaye was able to play in front of family and friends when the Peacocks lost 66-56 on Dec. 10 at the University of Maryland.
It was the first time he played at the home of the Terrapins since high school, when Oakland Mills appeared in College Park in the Maryland state basketball tournament.
Saint Peter's trailed by 25 points midway through the second half before coming back in the final minutes, much to the displeasure of Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon.
In that game Ndiaye came off the bench and played seven minutes and hauled in two rebounds while being held scoreless.
"He's a fantastic athlete," Peacocks head coach John Dunne told reporters last year of Ndiaye. "He's skilled, can make threes, can put it on the floor a little bit, he's got an ability to block shots, while also willing to take a charge."
Three days before Saint Peter's played in Maryland the Peacocks had a game in Texas against Houston Baptist.
The team arrived at a hotel the night before the game and watched film, then had an 8:45 a.m. wakeup call the next day.
After losing the game they took a bus back to the team hotel, then the next morning flew back to New Jersey before the trip to College Park.
Ndiaye said it is a challenge to balance Division I basketball and academics.
"It is a tough task," he said. "We have to balance our homework and studies and try to perform at a high level at the same time. It is a tough task but something we can do."