Amadou Ba is certainly making the most of his time on earth. Growing up in Africa, Ba avoided military conflict by coming to America and learning the game of basketball. After visiting Michigan during his senior year of high school, Ba was certain the mix of books and basketball ball could propel him in life. With expectations of the Wolverine basketball program rising, Ba looks to be a key contributor down low.
It didn't take long for Ba to get enamored with Ann Arbor and U-M as he made a commitment to become a Wolverine. After playing sparingly over the last two seasons, most of his teammates would say there is no one Wolverine more important than Ba. His dedication to the program and to his education only inspires his teammates.
Amadou took some time away from the basketball court to discuss growing up in Africa and why he left, the devotion of Michigan fans, and what he has done to improve his game in the off-season.
On playing different sports as a child
"Growing up I played soccer. I played soccer until I was 14 or 15 years old, but since I was getting so tall I started receiving many injuries to my knees and ankles, so I started playing basketball."
On when he started to play basketball
"To be honest, I wasn't thinking about playing basketball when I was growing up. As I was getting taller, everyone started asking me to play basketball; some people started talking to me and my family and telling us that I could make a living out of it, so that's why I started to play basketball."
On role models in his life
"I looked towards my parents the whole time. My parents have always been my role models."
On why he speaks five different languages
"In Africa there are too many dialects. It is easy to learn different languages, because some people speak a different dialect than you speak, so to communicate with them you have to learn their language. Also, West Africa was colonized by the French, so when you go to school you have to learn French and Arabic."
On getting used to physical Big Ten play
"I don't think it's tough at all. It's just different style of basketball, you just have to get used to it. It's always hard when you start, but once you are in a program for a couple years, you get used to it."
On the differences between West Africa and the United States
"It's totally different. Everything here in America is planned, being an industrialized country. In Africa people don't have the facilities that people in America have. Also, in America you go to bed and wake up and know what you are doing in the morning. Over there it's different. You just react to what's in front of you, you don't know what you're doing, and you don't have a plan."
On the reason to leave Africa
"The main reason I decided to leave was to get a better education. There wasn't a future in Africa for me, besides joining the army and go to war."
On what he missed the most from home
"One thing I missed the most is my family."
On Michigan Wolverine fan support
"It wasn't different for me when it comes to the basketball and hockey games. When I was home, in Africa, I used to go the soccer games and they are just as crazy. Going to the football, it was totally different. Seeing 110,000 people in a stadium at the same time -- wow -- that freaked me out."
On what he did to get better in the offseason
"I worked on my quickness and moving laterally. It is not a problem for me to run up and down the court, but my lateral movement is not as quick as the other players."
On expectations applied by the media
"People have talked about expectations since the end of last year when we won the NIT. But, we have our own expectations and our goals. That's all we care about. For me, I just want to get better every day and help Michigan win some games."