This archived article was written by: Terlynn Westphal
Utah State University Eastern’s athletic department welcomed 6-foot-11-inch freshman, Karbala Gueye to the basketball program in January 2017. He will officially play with the team in the 17-18 season.
His basketball career began when he was 15 years old in Senegal, Africa, where he grew up with his mother. After one year of playing, he joined the national team playing elimination games across Africa where his team qualified for the national championship. He played on the national team at only 16 years old.
Gueye played soccer throughout his life until his height was recognized. “I never played basketball before in my life until I was 15. The first day they gave me a basketball, I just held it and sprinted like a football player. They were all laughing, I just quit that day and said well, that’s not for me.” Of course, his coach reassured him that he would improve in basketball. “I have fallen in love with the sport.”
While Gueye was in high school, he was recruited by Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, where he spent two and a half years.
“Because I was still in high school, the university put me into an international high school. That is where I picked up English.” Before then he had only spoken French. After his time in the Philippines, Gueye went to Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain where he was recognized by Coach Scott Field, former assistant coach at USUE.
Gueye is grateful for the opportunities basketball gave him, but is excited to see his mother again at the end of the school year. “I am just the type of kid that likes to be home. Still, I enjoy doing this because you get to meet people, see new cultures, you learn a lot from traveling.” He picked up tagalog in the Philippines and Spanish while in Spain and speaks four different dialects from Africa.
He will return to USUE in fall 2017. Gueye is motivated to work hard in all aspects of his life. He will be a resident advisor on campus next school year. “I applied because I want to get the experience from Utah. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been traveling around the world. I’ve been to different countries, so I kind of know how to adjust with people.”
Gueye appreciated the environment Price, Utah, provided him. “People here are really kind. They are educated and open minded, they love each other. Aside from how quiet it is, it’s a nice place to live.”
He holds great love and respect for his mother. “What I’m doing now, it’s for her. I really want to help her and just want to make her happy, that’s my goal.”
Eight years of his childhood were spent in an orphanage due to poverty. He empathizes with people who are in similar situations.
“My first big dream was to leave the orphanage and succeed. I’m proud of myself.” Gueye recognizes that he has come a long way from where he started. “I’ve had a big win already, butstill need to work hard to try to make it better.” Gueye looks forward to achieving goals and learning lessons next school year. “I want to have a good basketball season and a good academic year.”