Tacko Fall is one of the more lovable characters in all of college basketball.
For starters, he’s 7-foot-6 and gave us one of the greatest Vines in history, and one of the best pictures from a season ago when he matched up with UC Irvine’s 7-foot-6 center Mamadou N’Diaye. Moreover, he made the journey from the Senegal to the United States, not only to pursue a basketball career, but to also obtain a degree in engineering at Central Florida.
On Thursday night, during UCF’s 86-61 thrashing of Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the Gildan Charleston Classic, Fall showed he isn’t just a spectacle.
He scored a career-high 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots. Mississippi State is a team that is, at best, a year away. But we should acknowledge the improvements Fall has made in his game since last season.
Conditioning was a question last year. On Thursday, he played 27 minutes, playing a few minutes longer than the 25 he played in the season-opening win over Nicholls State. As a freshman, he logged 25 or more minutes only three times, one of them being that overtime loss to N’Diaye and UC Irvine.
But he also showed better footwork and skills on the block.
And then how about this one: splitting a pair of Bulldogs after they were late on the double.
Fall entered college as a project and Thursday’s career night didn’t detach him from that label. But it was a promising sign in the development of his game.