From Senegal to Huntington

Herd basketball player benefits from SEED project

Marshall’s Cheikh Sane rushes past Anton Grady and Marlin Mason as the Herd mens basketball team takes on Cleveland State University at the Cam Henderson Center.

Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal, better known as SEEDS, offers boarding and after-school programs that use education and basketball to inspire the next generation of African leaders.

Cheikh Sane, senior power forward on Marshall University’s basketball team, attended SEEDS through grades 9 through 12.   

“When I was back home in Senegal, I played soccer when I was young,” Sane said. “One day a guy came up to me on the soccer field and started telling me about basketball. I went on to play for my national team and that’s when I got recruited by SEEDS.”

Sane said he is still involved with the SEEDS program. During the summer, he went to Senegal for four months to work with some of the kids who are currently in the program.   

“Last summer, I went back home to give them feedback and tips,” Sane said. “I just try to talk to the kids, tell them what to expect, because they all want to come to the States. I showed them my highlights and my film. I told them how you have to make sure you get good grades in the classroom and work hard outside class. I just wish some school will give them a chance, like they did me.”   

Sane said the SEEDS program has gotten his life off to a great start. He added the SEEDS program has no financial motive, despite what others may believe.     

“It’s just a program to help the kids,” Sane said. “You don’t have to pay anything, everything’s free. Most of the time, people think they bring a kid here and try to sell them or get money from the school. That’s not true. They just want to help the kid find a school and reach their dreams.”

One day a guy came up to me on the soccer field and started telling me about basketball.

— Cheikh Sane

Sane said he is not the only success story to come from the SEEDS program—in fact, there are several.

“We’ve got a couple guys that are playing professional ball,” Sane said. “Gorgui Dieng, that played at Huntington Prep, used to be my roommate, and he’s in the NBA now. We’ve also got players around the world playing professional ball in France and Japan, and of course, there are other college players across the country.”

Sane said getting accustomed to life in the United States was a challenge on and off the basketball court.

“English was my biggest challenge, and I’m still learning,” Sane said. “Also, the game is a lot different here. The people are faster and stronger.”

Despite the initial language barrier, the team has embraced Sane and his work ethic.

Sophomore Ryan Taylor said Sane brings a lot to games and practices.

“It’s fun playing with him,” Taylor said. “The energy and effort he brings to every game and throughout practice is contagious. He plays hard. And even though he doesn’t do everything right, he makes up for it with his work ethic.”

Malcolm Walton can be contacted at [email protected].