Eastern Michigan center Boubacar Toure discussed his upbringing, what he misses most about Senegal, when he first started playing basketball and his optimism for the Eagles 2019-20 season.
The fifth-year senior was born in Dakar, Senegal and came to the United States around six years ago to play basketball.
Toure explained that he misses his family and food the most from Senegal.
“Family 100%,” he said. “I have a really big family. I have one brother and four sisters, you know, and growing up I have always been around. I have never been by myself like around here, i’ve always been around family growing up.
African food is a lot better, a lot more ingredients. And I would say variety. You can have a lot more variety, a lot more options over here, but you know, my food is definitely better.”
Toure is also an avid soccer fan when it comes to watching the sport or playing video games. His favorite team is FC Barcelona.
“Everywhere you go around the world, soccer is the number one sport,” Toure said. “I guess, watching them, they’re just one of the best leagues in the world, I just enjoy watching them.”
Toure mentioned he speaks three languages: English, French and Wolof.
“In Senegal, like in the United States, when you go to school, they teach in French, so it’s the national language, but Wolof is the traditional language,” Toure said. “I am a people person, so I usually try to reach out with friends, try to hang out with people, teammates, and sometimes I play video games.”
Toure later touched on when he first picked up a basketball.
“First day I started playing basketball, I just had a tunnel vision of ‘Okay, I might have the chance to make something big out of this sport,’” he said. “I wasn’t just playing to play, I was playing to be a pro, to make money out of it, to make a living out of it.”
He also had the opportunity of attending a prestigious basketball camp in Johannesburg, Africa’s biggest city and the capital of the Gauteng province.
Toure explained: “There was NBA coaches that was out there, and just seeing myself compared to those other players and just seeing that sometimes I stand out I think, ‘Maybe I might make a living out of this.’”
This basketball camp was chock full of NBA talent as well.
“All the African players were there,” Toure said. “Serge Ibaka was there, Luol Deng was there, Joel Embiid was there and even some of the American players. I remember Nick Collison; he’s retired now. I remember coaches from Indiana were there, coaches from OKC and the Toronto Raptors were there, and me and Pascal Siakam were in that same camp.”
Siakam currently plays for the Raptors, and he won the 2019 NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year. He also helped Toronto win its first championship last summer. Toure has high hopes for his future in basketball, especially when compared to these types of players.
“The ultimate result is to make it to the NBA for sure,” he said. “I definitely think I can make it: I have got the height and athleticism, and I believe you can always work on the skills, and I have got a long way to go. I think I have a chance. You can drop me in the coldest city, in the coldest state in the country. I would be out there.”
However, volleyball is the only sport that has threatened to take Toure’s talents away from the hardwood.
“My volleyball coach was trying to make me quit basketball so I can focus on volleyball,” Toure explained. “I’m not doing that. I thought it was very effeminate, and I did not think of it at the time. I just misjudged it at the time. It did allow me to play basketball, though.”
Toure considers his mentality to be his strongest competitive feature.
“It does not matter who I’m playing against, I’m coming at you,” he said. “I’m a winner. It doesn’t matter if it’s basketball or something else. I’m doing it to win. So, I guess that’s that drive. Even if I work everyday, I have to play basketball. I guess it’s part of me.”
Toure is very optimistic on the team this year, setting the bar at a Mid-American Conference championship. He is also very pleased with the team’s chemistry. The big man is one of the team captains, and sees this team going far. He said they have the potential to surprise a lot of people.
“I think everybody has a genuine love for each other,” Toure said. “We are together as a team. I’m a fifth-year senior, I’ve been on five different teams, and I think what we have this year is very special. I’ve been on all different teams, but this one is special because everyone sticks together, everybody buys in.”
Toure and the Eagles are off to a 6-0 start after their victory over North Carolina A&T on Sunday, Nov. 24. Eastern Michigan is undefeated through six games for the first time in five years, and the Eagles will try to keep the momentum going as they continue competing in their non-conference slate.
“I think with every possession we have, people are selfless enough to make plays for each other, and we have coaches who can put us in the right situation and in the best position to win games,” he said. “They picked us to be last, and it is just motivation for us. That means we have nothing to lose, and whoever we face, there is pressure on them to beat us. And that is extra motivation for us.”