Last fall, the story of Zach Hodskins went viral.
A 6-foot-2 guard from Georgia, Hodskins spent much of his final summer on the AAU circuit like so many other players that fall outside the top 100: trying to prove to mid-major programs that he’s good enough to deserve a scholarship offer. Hodskins did just that, and by the time that his senior season in high school had started, Hodskins had managed to land a preferred walk-on offer from — and given a commitment to — Florida.
The story would have gotten exactly no buzz except for the fact that Hodskins doesn’t have a left hand. His left arm ends just below the elbow. It’s difficult for a right-handed player to earn a spot on a Division I team, let alone an SEC team, if he cannot dribble with his left hand. Hodskins will play at Florida without a left hand.
Think about that.
Hodskins is not the only one-handed high school hooper with dreams of playing college ball. Omar Ndiaye is a senior point guard for Monte del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He stands 6-foot-2, averaged 18 points as a junior, sports a 3.5 GPA and was born without a right hand; his right arm ends at the elbow:
“When people first see me play, they never expect me to do anything,” Ndiaye said. “When we play new teams that we never played before, they sleep on me and think I’m not going to do anything.”
“It feels really good when people underestimate me and think that I can’t do anything and I surprise them.”
Ndiaye looks up to Hodskins, and why wouldn’t he? Hodskins has the same physical limitations as Ndiaye, but that didn’t stop him from earning a roster spot at a program that has been to three Elite Eights and a Final Four in the last four years. Hodskins is proof that Ndiaye’s dreams of playing college basketball are possible.
“When I saw his story starting to rise up on the Internet, that motivated me, seeing someone else like me succeeding,” Ndiaye said.
Now his path to a college team won’t be an easy one. Ndiaye just finished up the most important summer for high school recruits and he’s still waiting for college coaches to call him, which is not a good sign. New Mexico 3A high school basketball is not exactly a hotbed for recruiting, and Ndiaye spent the summer playing for an AAU team that didn’t travel all that much.
What he needs is exposure, which is why he put together the highlight package you see above and posted it to his Facebook page. From there it was picked up by Ty Kish, who produces mixtapes for the YouTube channel City League Hoops.
Maybe this video of a one-armed basketball player will go viral, too. Maybe that thing that is supposed to be a disability works to his advantage. Maybe the fact that he’s able to do all of this without a right hand will get him noticed by a college coach somewhere. Maybe the uniqueness of his circumstances allows him to stand out, to rise of above the din that is high school seniors looking for an opportunity to continue playing the sport they love.
“I have thought about Division I,” Ndiaye said. “For anyone that plays basketball, that’s always the first goal. It’s on national TV.”
But really, any school will do.
“I feel like if I work really hard for this school year I can do it,” he said. “I have good grades, so if I had a school that was interested in me I could apply there and walk on.”
All he’s asking for is a chance.