Knoxville- Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin announced Thursday that 6-10, 270-pound center Rawane Ndiaye (pronounced: ruh-WAH-nee N-jie) has signed a National Letter of Intent to become a student-athlete at UT. Ndiaye, who goes by the nickname “Pops,” is expected to enroll this summer and will be a junior for the Volunteers next season. Ndiaye is currently a sophomore at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa., where he was coached by Barret Peery.
A foot injury significantly shortened Ndiaye’s season at Indian Hills this past spring. His team, which included several Division I signees, posted a final record of 26-4 (7-1 ICCAA).
Ndiaye pulled down 11 rebounds and also added five points during a win over North Iowa Area Community College on Dec. 18.
“Pops will bring a level of physicality and toughness to our frontcourt,” Martin said. “He was limited this season with a foot injury. He’s done a good job of improving his frame, dropping close to 80 pounds in the last two years.
“He’s going to continue to develop, get even stronger and really add to our post depth.”
The IHCC Warriors went 33-4 when Ndiaye was a freshman in 2011-12, winning the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference championship and both the regular-season and postseason Region XI titles. They entered that season ranked by The Sporting News as the No. 1 team in that publication’s preseason national junior college poll.
“I really like the Tennessee coaching staff,” Ndiaye said. “And the guys on the team are all about work and success. I also loved all the really nice facilities, especially the Thornton Center.”
Ndiaye was born in New York City borough of Manhattan and spent his early childhood living in The Bronx. He also lived in the Republic of Senegal in West Africa (where his parents are from) for a number of years growing up, returning to the United States as a teenager.
He attended Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas, for two years before enrolling at Body of Christ Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
In November 2010, Ndiaye signed with Western Carolina but never enrolled, landing instead at Indian Hills.
Ndiaye played his AAU basketball with the DFW Urban Elite program. He chose Tennessee over Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and TCU.
Tennessee’s five-man 2013 signing class now consists of Ndiaye, guard/forward A.J. Davis, and guards Robert Hubbs III, Travon Landry and Darius Thompson.