At this point, all three of my older brothers were playing — or had already played — basketball in the states. Boris, who is eight years older than me, played at Western Kentucky. Christian, six years older than me, was finishing up his last year at Indiana University—Purdue University at Indianapolis. James, who is only two years older than me, was still playing at Vanderbilt. I think he was just surprised. It took a while, but eventually James believed me.
But more than anything, the cultural differences were really fascinating. In Lewisville, I lived in a house with a host family and a few other students.
I remember — it might have been my first or second week there — when I heard one of the kids yell at their parents. My eyes went wide and I just thought, What is going on here?
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If you had said that in my house, you were gonna get hurt! In Cameroon, the most important thing was respecting your elders. The worst thing you could do as a kid was to raise your voice to a superior, whether it was to your parents, a teacher or just someone older than you. You never talked back. I think that — more than the food or the actual language — was the strangest thing for me. Every time I heard someone arguing with their elders, it reminded me of just how far away I was from Douala.
I was a little homesick, but I never once thought about giving up and going home. If I could survive going to the seminary when I was 11, I could definitely adapt to life in the U. My toughest adjustment was actually on the basketball court. In Cameroon, I had gotten by on natural talent and athleticism. Now, at prep school, I had to really learn the game.
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I felt completely lost, like I had no clue what I was doing. My teammates were talking smack to me nonstop. That was new to me, too. My entire mindset changed. Of course I wanted to get better at basketball, but maybe more than that, I wanted to shut those guys up. So I would go to the gym by myself, visualizing myself dunking on one of the guys or swatting one of their shots into the fifth row.
Soon, I was taking my frustrations out on my opponents. I felt myself improving with every game and every practice. Eventually, I started getting some attention from colleges. The only school that showed true interest in me, though, was New Mexico State.
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It was the family mentality. He said it was a family, and I believed him. Talking to him was always easy.
I never had to think about it. It just felt like I was being welcomed home. When it came time to sign a letter of intent, it was an easy decision. I was off to play college basketball, just like my brothers. Burritos are really good! I had to redshirt my freshman year because of academic issues.
And when I was finally able to practice with the team, I got my ass kicked on the court every single day. He would go right at me. He would post me up, so I would try to body him. Then he would back me down like I was made of cardboard and score easily.
https://rahickeitaret.tk My freshman year, this happened again and again. It got to the point where I was like, Enough is enough! I was so tired of getting my ass kicked every day.
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I thought back to prep school, and how my teammates had talked smack, and how badly I wanted to beat them. I needed that mindset again. So I went to the gym night and day, for the whole year. When workouts started the next summer, I was matched up with Nephawe who was a fifth-year senior again. That time, I held my ground. I broke down crying. Nothing mattered at that moment — not basketball, not school. Only my family. I wanted to go home to be with them and say goodbye to my father.
She told me that my father would want me to keep playing. I was distraught, but after I thought about it, I realized that she was right. Inside of me, a new fire was burning. I was playing for my dad now. I was playing for his dream of having a son in the NBA. I wanted to make him proud and give him this gift. Next thing I knew, I was starter. I never looked back. I barely wanted to even think about it. It was better to just keep working on my game and let everything sort itself out.
Still … in the back of my mind, no matter how much I tried to ignore it, I knew that the NBA was now a possibility. After my sophomore year, thoughts of the pros were impossible to ignore. Last January, the NCAA passed a rule saying that prospects could withdraw their names from the draft 10 days after the scouting combine. I had so many workouts with so many NBA teams that they all blend together. Except the one with the Raptors. Toronto was holding a workout in Buffalo.
I was psyched. I had heard they were nice guys, but I had to find a reason to make them villains.
Your session is about to expire!
So I pretended that they were my old teammates — the same ones who used to talk trash to me. I was going to dunk on Skal. I was going to block Poetl. I was going to dominate this workout and show the Raptors that I was just as good as those big names.
Well, now I was pissed.