February 25, 2003: Headlines: COS - Tunisia: Sports: Basketball: The Mercury News: Basketball Player Amadou Gallo Fall discovered by Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Peace Corps Tunisia : The Peace Corps in Tunisia: February 25, 2003: Headlines: COS - Tunisia: Sports: Basketball: The Mercury News: Basketball Player Amadou Gallo Fall discovered by Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia

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Basketball Player Amadou Gallo Fall discovered by Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia

Basketball Player Amadou Gallo Fall discovered by Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia

International aide: Scout keeps Mavericks abreast of global game
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS - (KRT) - It was probably a good thing that Amadou Gallo Fall hadn't been in the United States long when he played against Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning.

A 6-8 freshman center at the University of the District of Columbia, Fall didn't know he was supposed to be intimidated by Georgetown's twin towers. Word of their prowess hadn't reached him in his native Senegal.

"Students were asking me if I was ready for Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning," Fall said of the days leading up to the biggest game on UDC's schedule in 1989. "I'd never heard of these guys. I didn't realize how big they were and how talented they were. I wasn't intimidated, because I didn't read the stories about them."

That may have been the last time Fall, in his first season as the director of scouting for the Mavericks, didn't do his homework. These days, he makes a living learning just about everything he can about players all over the world.

At a time when basketball is more global than ever, when a player from Senegal can be just as coveted as one from Syracuse, Fall prides himself on knowing his stuff. He's widely considered one of the top international scouts in the NBA.

"It's an information business," he said. "You never want to be off the beat."

In the 1980s, Fall was playing in a basketball clinic in Tunisia when a Peace Corps worker stumbled upon him. The man passed along Fall's name to a coach at UDC, and Fall soon found himself in Washington, attending college.

Fall never made it to the NBA, at least not as a player. He said a broken wrist as a junior at UDC helped convince him to pursue other avenues in basketball. But he had his moments on the court, including the four shots he blocked against Georgetown, with one swat coming against the 7-2 Mutombo. He won a tip against Mourning.

"I used to be a very good leaper," Fall said.

Changing positions

That's about as close as Fall got to the spotlight.

Fall, or Gallo as he's known around the team, began free-lance scouting after college. He attended as many international basketball tournaments as he could, quickly developing contacts.

"I met Donnie (Nelson) at a bunch of international tournaments, and we stayed in touch," Fall said.

The Mavericks offered Fall his first NBA scouting job five years ago, and it has been a fruitful union.

While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach-general manager Don Nelson grab the headlines for trades and signings, Fall generates much of the information used in acquisitions.

Fall scouts college basketball games in addition to his work overseas. He said he spends about 20 days a month on the road during college basketball season. He tends to spend more time scouting overseas during the summer.

"He's an excellent talent evaluator, and he's got great relationships with all kinds of people in the basketball world," said Donnie Nelson, Mavericks president of basketball operations. "He's just a really valuable source of information. He's got a cool head in tense situations, whether it be in a draft room or key decision-making moments. If you didn't know his capabilities, he'd be one of those guys that would slip through the cracks because he's very unassuming."

Fall shies away from commenting on the players he's scouted heavily who eventually signed with the Mavericks. But Donnie Nelson said Fall's contributions have played a role in every acquisition. Before taking over as the director of scouting, he coordinated the team's international scouting efforts and assisted in player personnel matters.

"This organization wouldn't have had its international success without the help of Gallo," Nelson said. "If there's a right-hand guy that I have in the organization, he's it. He's instrumental in a lot of the decision making that takes place in the international forum for me."

Senegal pipeline

After college, Fall said he began to see ways of helping young men in his native country better themselves by getting an education through basketball.

Fall estimates that with his guidance, about 30 Senegalese have come to the United States to play college basketball.

His relationship with former Georgetown coach John Thompson helped lead to the recruitment of Senegalese stars Boubacar Aw and Ya Ya Dia.

The pipeline also includes the most highly sought of his countrymen, 7-footer DeSagana Diop. Fall directed Diop toward basketball power Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, where Diop honed the skills that made him the eighth pick of the 2001 NBA draft straight out of the prep school. He's now in his second season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Along the way, Fall began helping the Senegalese basketball federation. In 1997, the national team he assembled won the African Championship.

He returns to Senegal during the summers, and he donates shoes and equipment and organizes basketball camps. In a country with one indoor basketball court, help is greatly appreciated.

"Amadou is a really terrific guy off the job, so to speak," said Jeff Weltman, an assistant general manager with the Denver Nuggets who's known Fall for years. "I know he cares a lot about the people in his home country, and he tries to open up avenues for kids there so they can be successful."


© 2003, The Dallas Morning News.

Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at http://www.dallasnews.com

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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Story Source: The Mercury News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tunisia; Sports; Basketball



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