NBA D-League Showcase, Day Four January 18, 2008 Although his stat-line might look slightly more impressive than the actual results on the court, there is no doubting the fact that Saer Sene is making some very solid progress in his second year in the D-League. Stronger in the upper body (but still with a ways to go in terms of fully filling out), Sene is quite a presence in the paint thanks to his gigantic 7-8 ½ wingspan, which he uses quite well to grab rebounds, finish around the rim and challenge shots in the paint.
Sene should be grateful to have a playmaker like Randy Livingston running the show here. Livingston really makes an effort to keep Sene involved in the offense, with designated plays that are run just between the two to take advantage of Livingston’s court vision and Sene’s freakish length inside the paint. Livingston dribbles the ball along the 3-point line and waits for Sene to run parallel to him on a sharp cut to the rim, at which point he’ll whip a perfect pass right into his hands. The result is Sene catching the ball right below the rim with his hands already outstretched, meaning he just has to drop the ball into the basket and run back on defense. This is simple basketball, but so incredibly important for his development as a post player. It’s no surprise Sene went 6-6 from the field tonight. Things would be 100% different if we were talking about the NBA, but we’re seeing progress, which has to be considered encouraging.
Defensively, Sene can block and alter tons of shots around the basket, but he still is light years away from being able to play consistent minutes in the NBA from what we can tell. He looks incredibly lost every time he needs to step away from the paint to defend a pick and roll play for example, not bending his knees in any type of fundamental stance, and looking a step slow in everything that has to do with timing, instead mostly just standing upright with his hands in the air. He’d be chop liver most likely for most any NBA starting big man with a pulse.
Still, you have to like the effort he’s putting forth, the fact that he’s running the floor hard, being active, and looking like a good teammate invested in his team’s success. It’s too early to say whether Seattle’s investment will really pan out (he’ll almost certainly not live up to his top 10 pick status), but at least there are some encouraging signs to speak of. [Read Full Article] An American Perspective on Europe: The Big Men (Part Two) June 26, 2006 One of the more intriguing stories to follow in the coming years out of this draft class is the development of Saer Sene. It really could go in any direction.
If his learning curve really is as steep as some NBA teams think, we’re talking about an absolute force in the middle that runs the floor incredibly hard, blocks shots and rebounds with the best of them, and best of all, shows a terrific attitude to do all the little things.
But if he ends up the way too many African prospects over the past few years have, the results will not be pretty for the team that drafts him. Olumide Oyedeji, Malick Badiane, Mamadou N’Diaye, Soumalia Samake, the list of uber-athletic freaks with incredible wingspans and little to no basketball experience goes and on and on.
Sene essentially represents everything the NBA draft stands for. Hit a home run and you might get a Samuel Dalembert with the 27th pick. Strike out and you might suffer through four listless years of DeSagana Diop like the Cleveland Cavaliers did after drafting him 8th overall.
Sene’s more likely scenario is that he develops into a more athletic version of what Diop has become today, a big body in the post who intimidates with his length, runs the floor, sets good screens, rebounds with purpose and scores when the opportunity arises. As ordinary as that might sound, there is a plenty of value in getting a 7-footer in that mold, particularly when you are drafting somewhere from 10-20. Anything more than that is absolute gravy for the team that drafts him, which is where his upside kicks in.
For more info on Saer Sene’s strengths and weaknesses, click on his name to read his recently completed scouting report. [Read Full Article] Word on the Street: Sene Highlight Reel Clip, Jordan, Trade Talk June 20, 2006 A team source informed us that the Chicago Bulls were blown away by Saer Sene’s “athleticism, upside and speed” at a workout he recently conducted at the Berto Center. According to the source, Sene “blew the roof off the workout” and is now considered a legitimate option for the Bulls at #16. "He might be the longest person in the world!"
When talking about potential problems he might face in the NBA with the speed the game is played at, the source was adamant about the fact that he tested out extremely well off the court and that his learning curve appears to be very sharp.
Similar questions we posed via email to a coach he worked with this past year in Belgium garnered the following response: “If you saw the progression he’s made you would be amazed. His talent to pick up fundamentals is amazing. In the games he wasn't always ready to catch the ball, but for me it was more inexperience than bad hands. He's a good kid, with a golden heart. With the necessary aid of personal coaches who take their time, I really believe that he has a great future in the NBA.”
Sene will be working out in Philadelphia today (20th) with Hilton Armstrong, Oleksiy Pecherov and Patrick O’Bryant. After that he has the Phoenix Suns scheduled on the 22nd, a second visit with the Supersonics on the 23rd, a second visit with his biggest fan Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz on the 25th, and potentially Houston before the draft. His range appears to be somewhere in the 10-21 area, with the New York Knicks being a major hindrance to Phoenix’s hopes of him being there at 21 after having watched him work out and fallen in love with him during the week of the Orlando pre-draft camp.
Sene’s potential is not lost on the shoe companies either, as he’s recently reached a three year marketing deal agreement with Nike.
Recent talk has the Phoenix Suns potentially packaging both of their picks (#21+#27) into the teens to draft him.
DraftExpress has exclusively obtained an 8 minute long highlight reel of Sene for our users to enjoy. The clip features plenty of plays from the Nike Hoop Summit in April, as well as game footage from this past season in Belgium with Pepinster.
[Read Full Article] Saer Sene NBA Draft Scouting Report June 16, 2006 Strengths
Sene is a physical specimen in the truest sense, with the type of attributes that would put him in a rare class in the NBA right off the bat. Standing 7 feet tall, he has terrific size for the center position, with a 7’8.5’’ wingspan that will make him the longest player in the league. Sene isn’t particularly bulky at this point in time, but his frame is good enough to lead you to believe that he’ll put on all weight he’ll ever need in his upper and lower body.
In terms of athletic ability, Sene passes the test as well. He is quick off his feet and has a terrific second bounce after his initial vertical leap. He has excellent footspeed and overall quickness, and runs the floor extremely well for a player his size.
Offensively, Sene is a massive target in the paint and is the type of player who you can potentially just throw the ball in the general direction of and let him go get it. He won’t always be able to catch it at this point in his development curve, but it’s impressive to see just how much potential he has as a target around the rim, particularly when running the floor in transition. If he does manage to catch the ball in a favorable position, his size, length and the quickness in which he gets off his feet usually do the rest, as he’s able to stick it the ball in the basket emphatically while barely leaving the ground. Watching him on film, he’s often able to avoid the initial challenge in the air from his defender and dunk the ball while already well on his way down, just before landing on his feet. If he has time to gather himself after catching the ball in the post, he shows some sparks of a raw jump-hook shot he can utilize.
Defensively is where Sene is probably the most attractive. His length alone already makes him a force as a shot-blocking threat, but the raw timing he shows leaves even more room for optimism in his potential as a game changer in the paint. Sene recovers extremely well and is quick to get over and challenge slashers that dare enter the paint. His nimble feet allow him to stay in front of players much smaller than him with his lateral quickness and force them into some extremely difficult shots high off the glass over his outstretched arms. For every blocked shot that he comes up with, he alters countless other just with his mere presence and the intimidation factor he establishes early on. With Sene manning the post, opposing guards need to bring it strong into the paint, or they will most likely be denied. A part of his game that really shows just how freakishly long he is when being posted up. On numerous occasions on film we’d see Sene stripping his man clean while being posted up on a one on one back to the basket play. When the post-entry pass comes, Sene can just stick his long arm out and around his man from behind and deflect the ball free.
More reasons for optimism are left when watching just how hard he works on this end, as Sene is anything but a lazy player and has no problem mixing things up and getting dirty in the paint. It’s not rare to see him hit the deck for a loose ball. Effort never seems to be an issue with him.
Much of what makes Sene so intriguing as a shot-blocking presence is also what impresses with his rebounding potential. Sene’s size, length and athleticism are always on full display in this part of his game, as is the tenacity in which he works the glass. He fights for every rebound and enjoys a lot of success here almost solely off his physical attributes, bouncing off the ground repeatedly in the post trying to get his hands on loose balls, going after long rebounds with his tremendous reach and being fairly effective on the offensive end as well to get 2nd opportunities or easy baskets for his team.
In terms of his upside, there is absolutely no doubt that Sene’s ceiling is just about as high as anyone in this draft due to his incredible physical attributes. Consistent reports from people that have worked with him, including his coaching staff at Belgium, say that his work ethic and personality are terrific and that he’s very hungry and motivated to become the best basketball player that he can possibly become. Seeing the way he works out on the court, it’s hard to dispute that. Sene has improved quite over the past few years according to unbiased professionals in the basketball world who have followed him, coached him and watched him in person, and should continue to improve over the next few years.
Sene is probably one of the more raw first round prospects we’ve evaluated in the past few years. Playing for a middle of the road team in the semi-underrated Belgian league, his numbers are unimpressive at best. His minutes were extremely inconsistent and the only part of his stat-sheet that really jumps out at you are his rebounding numbers, with 5 rebounds in just 12 minutes per game. There is little doubt that he is a long-term project who will demand plenty of work and patience from whichever coaching staff that ends up landing him.
Offensively, Sene is extremely limited, as most of his damage comes within five feet of the basket. His footwork is virtually non-existent and he lacks any type of go-to move he can use to score in one on one situations. Most of his points come off drive and dish situations, in transition or through his work on the offensive glass. When attempting to do more, Sene displays poor touch as he tries to just throw the ball in the basket rather than use a polished move to caress it in. When he gets to the free throw line, his mechanics here look very poor, with a bad hitch at the very end of his shot, and it’s not rare at all to see him miss both attempts. He shot just 14-38 from the free throw line this past season, or 36%.
As you would expect from someone who has only been playing the game for a few years, Sene’s fundamentals are well below average for a player his age. He sets poor screens for example, and does not do a good job boxing out for rebounds.
From a physical standpoint, Sene has plenty of work to do as well beyond the raw explosiveness he shows. He is fairly awkward making short, quick movements, and lacks the coordination at this point to fully take advantage of his rare tools. It’s not rare for example to see him get in the way of one of his teammates as they go up for a rebound or slash to the basket, as his feel for the game just isn’t there at this stage in his development. He lacks great balance and it’s not unusual to see him knocked to the ground or being out of position. Sene still has work to do on his lower body strength, as he struggles both establishing position in the post (regardless of whether he has the skills to do something after doing so) as well as holding his spot on the block.
The most noticeable thing that comes from watching him is the fact that the game just moves too fast for him right now. More often than not, you’ll see the ball bobbled or bounced off his hands when trying to catch a rebound or catch a post-entry pass. Sometimes he’ll be able to come away with it after the first catch attempt, but this is one of the reasons that his teammates are often hesitant to throw him the ball even when he looks to be in great position to make a play. He will have to improve his hand-eye coordination considerably to be able to make the impact that his potential says he should in the NBA.
Something that we don’t have a great handle on at all and will be strictly up to the teams to attempt to evaluate is his age. Birth certificates are not kept in Senegal and there really is no way to estimate just how old he might be since he’s only been on the radar for a few years. There really isn’t anything concrete to go off of in this case besides the fact that almost all African prospects in the past were suspected to be older than their listed age, but this is something that could legitimately affect how much upside he is perceived to have if deemed an issue for concern.
Sene has reportedly only been playing basketball for slightly over two years. In February of 2004, his current Senegalese/French agent Bouna N’Diyae traveled back to his native country of Senegal with one of his scouts to sign the player they hoped would pan out as a worthy investment after 3-4 years. He was placed at the SEED academy in Thies, Senegal, founded by Dallas Mavericks Director of Scouting and African basketball expert Amadou Fall.
From there he was sent to work out for NBA scouts in June of 2004 at the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, and according to reports was laughed at for how raw and uncoordinated he was. He then went to play in the 2nd Division of Belgium, and put up excellent numbers there. Thinking that he was at least 3-4 years away, Sene signed a 4 year contract in May of 2005 with Belgian Charleoi, who currently play in the ULEB Cup. Sene was then loaned to Verviers Pepinster for the current season, where he has struggled to get minutes for one reason or another. In two of the four occasions that he received over 17 minutes in a single game, Sene twice notched double-doubles (10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 points, 14 rebounds in 17 and 20 minutes respectively). On the season, Sene averaged 4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1 block in 12 minutes per game. His coming out party in the States was in the week leading up to the Nike Hoop Summit in Memphis as well as the actual game itself, where he captivated scouts during the practices and had an excellent game against some top high schoolers with 15 points (6-8 FG), 6 rebounds, and 9 blocks in 27 minutes.
Sene reportedly has 3 years left on his contract, but has a clear buyout sum of $425,000 this year or $375,000 next year should he decide to stay another season in Europe. He will almost certainly stay in the draft and is considered a likely first round pick with a more than decent chance of slipping into the top 20. Teams like Phoenix, Utah and Sacramento reportedly have the most interest in him.
[Read Full Article] 2006 Nike Hoop Summit Game Recap April 10, 2006 Sene put on an awesome display, tying Kevin Garnett’s Hoop Summit record of 9 blocks in the game. Though the official stat sheet said 9 blocks, I counted 11, and various other people we talked also counted more than 9. Three of them came on one possession, and he had a few on athletic wing Gerald Henderson. Considering that he’s only played basketball for a couple years, it is really hard to believe how good Sene’s anticipation skills are. On offense, he is quite raw, though he does have the ability to step outside and hit a 15 footer when left unguarded. Sene made one in the flow of the game, and also knocked down 3 of his 4 free throw attempts. Despite this, he lacks footwork in the post, and when trying to make a move, he just turns and puts up a hook on a prayer that it will go in. He did have one sequence where he did a drop step and ended up with a dunk, but this was the only time all week where he created for himself out of the post. Sene has good hands when catching the ball down low, and usually waits until the time is right before he goes up to dunk a ball. When rebounding, his hands didn’t seem as good, and he will have to work on using his body to get position, and anticipating the ball to catch it at the highest point in his jump.
Sene has everything physically that you could ask for in a center prospect. He stands a legit 7 feet tall, and his 230 pounds are well distributed throughout his frame. His combination of length and explosive leaping ability is jaw dropping. Sene was the talk of all of the NBA scouts in attendance during the practices, and he was even more impressive during the game, though the U.S. team didn’t have any player who could match his combination of size and athleticism. Centers with the tools he has to work with are rare, and though he is raw at this point, he is young enough as to where he can develop a respectable offensive game. Sene doesn’t receive a whole lot of minutes with is team in Belgium right now, but his game is much more suited to the NBA style of play. He told DraftExpress after the game that he is considering entering the NBA draft this year, so it will be interesting to see if he does, and where he goes if he decides to declare. It’s hard to imagine him not getting some serious looks throughout the first round. European scouts we spoke with throughout the week claim his true age is a bit of a question mark, though, as it often is with many African prospects. [Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit Preview: International Team April 7, 2006 The main attraction on the International team is no other than Mouhamed Saer Sene. There are other very talented players, but likely none of them feature the kind of potential that this center from Senegal displays. He is also much more of an unknown that Datome, who has enjoyed exposure at Euroleague level. Far fromthe top European showcase, Saer Sene fights for playing time in the Belgian League, and not very successfully. He only averages around 10 minutes, and averages 3 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block per game. Sene has been blessed with perfect physical characteristics for a center: excellent size, terrific athleticism, and a nice frame, tools that make him a very prolific rebounder and shot blocker. However, he's still a very raw basketball player. Having taken up basketball very late, he still hasn't learned the game. Still, the potential is there, and it will take him all the way to the NBA if he manages to fulfill it to a certain degree. [Read Full Article]