Montreal’s own Abdou Karim Mane has made history by signing with the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Mane becomes the first player to join the league directly from CEGEP, having attended Vanier College from 2017 to 2020.
Playing for Canada at last year’s FIBA Under-19 World Cup, the 20-year-old put up impressive stats. The Dakar-born, Montreal-raised ballplayer averaged 11.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Mane’s signing also marks the first time two Montrealers play for the same team, with University of Nevada’s Khem Birch having joined the roster in 2017. “Welcome to the squad,” Birch exclaimed in a congratulatory tweet. Montrealers elsewhere in the league include 2019 Raptors champion Chris Boucher and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Lu Dort, the latter of whom also sent his best wishes to Mane over Twitter.
Mane bypassing the traditional NCAA route signifies a growing disdain for the system. The 2018 LeBron James-produced HBO documentary Student Athlete explores the predatory nature of the university sports world, a multi-billion-dollar industry that benefits substantially from its players without offering them anything of monetary value in return.
The forthcoming season of the NBA G-League, in which developing players face each other on a minor league level, will offer further incentive for players to go around the college system, with some once-NCAA prospects opting into six-figure contracts ahead of declaring to next year’s draft.
The Orlando Magic have only cracked the NBA playoffs three times in the past decade, two of which were in the past two years with first-round eliminations. The signing of Mane is a testament to the team’s “trust the process” approach, in which the Magic play the long game by letting players develop instead of signing “win now” athletes. ■
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