HUNTINGTON, W.Va.– A journey that has taken Marshall Men’s Basketball center Yous Mbao a grand total of 8,482 miles from his hometown of Rufisque, Senegal is wrapping up, as he will play his final game Thursday night inside the Cam Henderson Center.
Mbao doesn’t like to think about putting on his No. 34 jersey for the last time
“It’s going to be real tough,” Mbao says. “It’s something I really don’t want to do, but I don’t have any other option. I wish I could be wearing that jersey every day and playing on this floor every day.”
The trek to Huntington began with a move to Simi Valley, Calif. to play high school basketball for Stonebridge Prep. From there, he went to Milwaukee, Wis. and played one season under head coach Buzz Williams before transferring to Marshall ahead of the 2010-11 season.
Mbao has appeared in 65 total games for the Herd after missing numerous games throughout his career due to knee, wrist, and head injuries. While his 25 career points do not sound like much, head coach Tom Herrion says Mbao is valuable to the team as a leader.
“Mbao and myself maybe wish he had a more productive statistical playing career, but it’s been marred by a ton of injuries and other variables,” Herrion says. “Our program is in better shape having had him in the program for four years, because he’s such a tremendous young man. I’m a better person for having had the opportunity to coach him the last four years.”
Mbao says he took the role of being a leader from the first time he stepped foot on Marshall’s campus.
“When I first arrived to campus, I knew I had to find a way to assert myself on the team especially having young guys around me, so I learned how to be a big brother to them on the court and off the court,” Mbao says.
One aspect of life that sets Mbao apart from the rest of the Herd is that Mbao has been thousands of miles from home in the United States on his own for six years since he went to Stonebridge Prep.
Mbao says he took on the role of being a leader even before he came to the United States.
“I was always a soldier of my own because I grew up in a family where I knew everything was going to be tough, especially knowing my dad was about to retire and nobody else had graduated college so I had to step up and take the responsibility of my dad and be able to help out with my family,” Mbao says. “So that’s what I did when I was young. I left the country to help out my parents and my young brother getting an education.”
Mbao graduated last May and is about to complete a second degree this spring, an accomplishment his family and friends could not be more proud of.
“Where I’m from, out of maybe 20 friends, maybe three or four of them graduated from college,” Mbao says. “They were surprised to see I graduated from college not only one time, but twice, with two different degrees.”
Mbao says he does not have any current plans for his future, besides wrapping up his second degree. He will celebrate his senior night by taking on the Charlotte 49ers alongside the rest of his Thundering Herd teammates for one last time inside the Henderson Center.
— Braxton Crisp