According to the dominant consensus, to call Eastern Michigan University Men's Basketball Team the "underdogs" against the mighty Duke Blue Devil's on Wednesday November 14, 2019 would be an understatement. After watching what Associated Press' (AP) #4 ranked Duke University's 3 guaranteed NBA lottery picks, RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish did to (AP) #2 ranked University of Kentucky, why would anyone expect less of a thrashing for the Eagles from Ypsilanti, Michigan.
That being said, if you have a soft spot for the underdog, let me give a reason in 7ft Boubacar Toure. The new addition to the EMU Eagles in 2018-19, comes with two years of eligibility remaining after beginning his career in 2014 at Grand Canyon University. Boubacar sat out his freshman year at GCU after finishing at P.H.A.S.E. 1 Academy prep program in Phoenix Arizona where played for Head Coach Wayne Dawkins. Boubacar came from Dakar, Senegal as a 17 year old high schooler only able to speak very little English. Senegal's main language is French and with one year to learn english and pass his S.A.T.'s the odds were stacked against him early. Boubacar was not successful at several attempts at his S.A.T. but Head Coach Dan Majerle of Grand Canyon U., a new NCAA D1 program in Phoenix, Arizona, would take a chance and bring him in as a prop 48.
During his prop 48 year Boubacar would undergo his first surgery to repair ligament damage in his ankle. What would follow next would be a string of unfortunate injuries that would cost him 2 more full seasons. The final injury was a ruptured ACL that was a strand away from ending his his career for good. With 3 years of university gone Boubacar would focus on his education graduating with a Bachelors in Sports Management. He would then lean heavily on his faith, family, girlfriend and prep school coach for the confidence to battle back through yet another round of rehab. However, this time his playing career would not be decided by injury but the by the same Grand Canyon U. staff that took a chance with him in the beginning. Boubacar was being recruited over and his future as a Lope was coming to and end. Once cleared to return to play Boubacar made the decision to open up his recruitment in hopes another NCAA D1 school would be willing to give him a chance. With 2 years eligibility left, he knew he could help a top school to a winning season and keep his dream of playing in the NBA a reality.
Quickly the word spread about Boubacar becoming eligible to be recruited and several universities made contact right away. Boubacar would go on visits to Portland State U., Howard U., Arkansas State U., but it was Eastern Michigan U. where his P.H.A.S.E. 1 Academy coach attended as a player in the early 90's, that Boubacar would feel he could become a missing piece of an almost complete puzzle. The Eagles are chosen to win the Mid-American Conference West Division, while senior James Thompson IV and redshirt senior Elijah Minnie were both named to the All-MAC West Preseason Team. With the addition of Boubacar at center the other MAC teams will have to work double time to keep the Eagles out of the NCAA Tournament.
Ypsilanti, Michigan is now only the second city in North America Boubacar has called home. This past July with his girlfriend at his side, who has been with him throughout his difficult journey, they packed up their apartment in Phoenix to head north. He made sure to get his last workouts in with his prep school coach Wayne Dawkins now the lead trainer and owner of P.H.A.S.E. 1 Athletics, and then said his final good bye's to the desert heat.
The task of defending the rim against Duke University is a one the whole college nation will be trying to figure out on the road to the 2019 NCAA Championships, but Boubacar is excited to have his opportunity to protect the Eagle's nest. EMU has opened up with a 3 -0 start and Boubacar is averaging a double-double to start the season, the first player to do so since for the Eagles since 1998. He also pick up his first player of the game honors in a win against Drexel U.
For those of us that love to root for the underdog, no matter what the outcome on Wednesday night the kid from Dakar, Senegal has already beat the odds many times in order to have a chance to lace up one more time and continue his Journey of an Elite 1.
To learn more about Boubacar's earlier journey from Dakar, Senegal to P.H.A.S.E. 1 Academy in Arizona, read more by clicking this link.