Frankford’s Seydou plays big role outside for Pioneers

Frankford junior Seydou Ndiaye believes Frankford could be among the best in the Public League next year.

Seydou Ndiaye believes the Frankford High School basketball team could be among the best in the Public League next year. JOE MASON / TIMES PHOTO

In basketball, it’s a good problem to have.

For most of his life, Seydou Ndiaye has been one of the biggest players on his basketball team. It was that way when he was a youngster playing in Logan, it’s that way when he plays on the AAU circuit and it’s that way on the Frankford High School squad.

Typically, height isn’t a problem, but for him, it painted him into a big guy position.

“I was always one of the biggest guys, so I would play underneath,” said Ndiaye, a junior at Frankford. “I think it hurt me because I never got to play like a guard. I was always a big.”

Playing forward didn’t prevent him from being productive, but it did keep him from doing what he does best.

“I am a shooter, so I like taking outside shots, looking for 3s,” Ndiaye said. “Before I got to Frankford, I never got to do that. I could always shoot, but I’m doing it better now because I’m doing it more.”

On Thursday night, Ndiaye’s shot was on point, but it wasn’t enough to help the Pioneers, as they were knocked off by St. Joe’s Prep 55–47 in the third-place game of the District 12 Class 6A tournament at Archbishop Ryan. Prep advanced to the state tournament while Frankford’s season is over.

Ndiaye scored 16 points to go along with five rebounds in a game that was tight until the final minute, when the Hawks pulled away.

This was the second straight year the Pioneers were eliminated in the District 12 third-place game, but last year they were handled with ease by Archbishop Ryan. This year, the Pioneers gave their Catholic League foe all they could handle.

“Last year hurt a lot because when you lose like that, you don’t have another game to play, so it stays with you,” said Ndiaye, who transfered to Frankford after going to Washington during his freshman year. “We didn’t do what we wanted to do. We wanted to win. But I think we played pretty good. They’re a good team, too.”

Ndiaye has learned a lot playing for second-year coach Jamie Ross. The biggest thing he’s learned is how to play in a structured offense.

Frankford could run with teams, but when the situation called for it, they would turn to a half-court set. For Ndiaye, it was the best of both worlds.

“We run a lot different offense than we do with my AAU team,” said Ndiaye, who plays for the Philly Tarheels, an AAU team that is based out of Houseman Recreation Center in Summerdale. “Things are a lot different in AAU. We run a lot more there. Here, we play a slower style. I like them both.

“I’m glad I’m getting a chance to show everyone what I can do. I can play both ways. At first, it took getting used to playing here, but now I love it. It gets me a lot of open shots when we run plays, and that helps me score.”

Ndiaye is a scorer, and all season he’s been lighting it up for the Pioneers. But his goal is to continue to evolve as an all-around player.

Next year, he hopes to play point guard at times, and while he’ll still put up the big numbers when needed, he’ll also do the little things.

“I’m not just a scorer, I like playing defense and rebounding, doing all the things a team needs to win,” Ndiaye said. “I like doing all of those things. The biggest thing you need to do to play (for Frankford) is play defense. We all play defense together, to help each other out. That’s what we do before anything else.”

That philosophy has paid dividends for the Pioneers, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Playing in March is great, but playing in mid- to late March is even better.

“I’m not surprised we’re where we are, but I’m not happy,” said Ross, who won a Public League championship as a player at Frankford before he graduated in 1987. “I want to win a Public League championship and beat Catholic League teams. They’re good, and I know they played well, but I’m not happy. I want to win. I want to compete with the best teams out there.”

Ndiaye feels the same way.

He’ll start preparing for his senior season right away by playing with his AAU squad and by practicing by himself at Housman during his free time.

His goal is to earn a college scholarship and to have one final run as a Pioneer.

It helps that the team loses only a few seniors.

“We have a lot of good players coming back and there could be some other good players who come in, freshmen,” Ndiaye said. “Everyone is going to work, too. If we do, we could be really good next year. We play defense and we have scorers who work together. That’s how we won this year and it’s how we will win next year.”