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7'7" Boston Celtics' center Tacko Fall practicing free throws. Photo via Charles Krupa

Tacko Fall is making headlines once again. This past week, the 7'7" rookie sensation traveled back to his home in Senegal for the first time in seven years. There, Fall worked on a four-day camp with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program. In an article written by Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, the 23-year-old broke down his thoughts on the trip and the valuable experiences that have come out of it both on and off the court.

Working with youth 17 and under, Tacko spent time with the camps' big men, giving them helpful advice and knowledge on what it takes moving forward in their lives.

With it being his first return home in a while, Fall took the trip very seriously, taking some time to really ground himself and use his origins to his advantage. In a telephone interview with Himmelsbach for the article, Tacko had this to say about what it means for him to be back in Senegal:
"For me it's about going around the neighborhoods, seeing where I came from, and just kind of reflecting on how far I came. I think that will honestly give me more encouragement to keep pushing and inspiring people from Senegal and Africa and be the best I possibly can and continue to strive so I can have a long career in the NBA."
Tacko Fall with participants in the Basketball Without Borders program. Photo courtesy of the NBA

At the event with Fall was NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, who also returned to Africa to aid in the Basketball Without Borders mission. In the same interview with Himmelsbach, Tacko spoke about his relationship with the four-time defensive player of the year and NBA Hall of Famer.
"He's like an uncle and I'm like his nephew. He gives me advice, and he talked to me about life in the NBA, especially as a player from Africa, like how you need to behave and carry yourself throughout the NBA. And he told me things about diet and workouts."
Known for famous post block finger wag, Mutumbo was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He traveled to America in 1987 in order to attend Georgetown University on an academic scholarship. It wasn't until his second year there that he started playing basketball for the school after being convinced by their head coach John Thompson.

Years later, in 1991, Mutumbo was drafted into the NBA as the fourth overall pick by the Denver Nuggets. He went on to play 18 seasons in the league with his most notable stints being for the Nuggets, the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Houston Rockets.

Having an NBA Hall of Famer as a mentor could never be a bad thing, so with Mutombo in his corner, their growing relationship could prove to be a valuable one and very helpful moving forward in Tacko's career.
Tacko Fall and Dikembe Mutumbo at a Basketball Without Borders event in Senegal, Africa. Photo courtsey of NBA 

In addition to his work with both the youth of Senegal and Mutumbo, Tacko has not stopped working hard on his NBA game. While in Africa, Fall met up with drills and skills coach Drew Hanlen and Philadelphia 76ers' all-star big man Joel Embiid.

Embiid, who was also born in Africa, played basketball for the University of Kansas. He went on to be drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014 at the #3 pick.

Although he's dealt with serious injuries ever since, the 7-foot tall big man has improved every season of his young career. Last season, Embidd had a career year with averages of 27.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

Part of Embiid's very noticeable improvement can be attributed to his offseason work with skills and drills coach Drew Hanlen. Hanlen, who is known for developing the new generation of NBA talent, works regularly with other NBA stars including but not limited to Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, 2014 first overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and Boston Celtics' rising star Jayson Tatum. When asked by Himmelsbach about his Wednesday morning workout with the duo of Hanlen and Embiid, Fall had nothing but good things to say about his first encounter with the Sixer's big man.
"That was really awesome too. We worked on pretty much a lot of work on the post, and every now and then [Embiid] would stop and try to show me some things and try to tell me about the game in the NBA. So I thought that was cool, especially coming from him, one of the best, if not the best center in the NBA right now."
Later in the interview, Fall went on to say that Embiid was very easy to get along with and noted both his personality and confidence in his big man game.

Despite the rivalry between the 76ers and the Celtics, it would be hard for anybody to deny or disrespect the game of Joel Embiid. He is undeniably one of the game's top centers and as Fall said himself, arguably the best in the league. For this reason, any fan who wants to see Tacko play in the TD Garden should be extremely excited about his work with both Joel Embidd and Drew Hanlen in the offseason. This, combined with his time spent with Dikembe Mutumbo, will fine-tune his game on the court and his mentality off the court, all of which could end up being crucial elements to Tacko making the team and becoming an effective NBA player. Hopefully, his time back home in Senegal could be a very positive refresher before he returns to Boston in order to prepare for pre-season training camp.

Basketball Without Borders is NBA and FIBA's global outreach program that has worked in 27 countries on six continents. Their goal is to help young and talented kids from all over the world develop their basketball talent as they try to make it to the next level. They have worked with more than 3,000 participants from 133 countries.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.

Thomas Desmond 8/01/2019 12:22:00 PM Edit
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