One of the best shot-blockers in the nation has made his home in Brooklyn Heights for the past three years. The 2014-15 Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year is regaining form as his senior year nears its completion.
Senior Amdy Fall, who once again leads the NEC in blocks with 2.2 per game after swatting a league-high 2.8 per game last season, has been one of the best defensive players in the conference throughout his tenure at St. Francis.
“I don’t know if I’m going to win Defensive Player of the Year again,” Fall said, but in regards to whether or not he actually deserves the award, his feelings were clear, and rightfully so.
“Oh of course, I don’t think anyone impacts the game the way I impact the game,” he said with a confident smile.
Surpassing his season-high in blocks with eight in a 79-72 late season win over Bryant on February 25th, Fall also became only the second Terrier ever to record 200 or more career rejections, and the first to do so in less than four seasons.
The 6-foot-7 swat machine and Senegal native also grew up in Harlem, New York. He said it was easier on his parents to have him and some of his siblings leave Africa before eventually coming to New York.
Despite what his impact may indicate, Fall’s father did not initially see basketball as a positive route for his soon to take.
“At first, my father didn’t want me to play basketball, he just wanted me to go to school and get good grades because he thought basketball was just a distraction,” Fall said. “Entering my junior year in high school, he didn’t want me playing basketball. That summer I was supposed to travel with my AAU team to go play. He told me to go get a job over the summer and wait for school to start. Of course I didn’t listen, I still went on that AAU trip, he was pissed about it for a while,” Fall added with a laugh.
After originally attending Washington Irving High School in New York City, Fall transferred to Wings Academy in the Bronx. It was there where he as able to earn some quality exposure after earning some all-important playing time.
“When I got there at first, I played decent minutes, and toward the end of my junior year I started playing a lot,” he said. “In the city playoffs we played some really good teams like Lincoln. By the end of my junior year I had a name. After the playoffs and over the summer I started to get looks but I didn’t get offers.”
While getting attention, the offers did not follow originally, but that changed in his senior campaign. As a senior, Fall averaged 12.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 8.6 blocks while helping lead the way for Wings to reach the PSAL “AA” semifinals.
Fall began to have some big showings as a senior early on, and then the offers came rolling in after some enormous defensive performances.
“I started to have very good games. I think it was against Kennedy; I had like 15 (points), 10 (rebounds) and 16 blocks,” he remembered. “Then from December to February I had like 10 offers.”
With an obvious knack for disappointing opposing players who slash through the lane by blocking their shot, Fall says that he doesn’t know how his gift of rejection came about.
“I never worked on it, I didn’t realize it until my junior year,” he said. “I used to get a lot of spectacular blocks – that would have the crowd going crazy.”
Fall ultimately and originally chose Radford University in Virginia to continue his blossoming basketball career before having to sit out the 2011-12 season at Radford. He later decided to transfer to the College of Central Florida, a junior college in the northern part of the sunshine state.
That decision couldn’t have created a better result for the forward as he calls his time at Central Florida the best year of his life, and it was capped-off with the best honor imaginable, a coveted National Championship.
“It was wonderful. We went to a tournament in the pre-season and lost every game. We started the season, we were playing decent, but then we really came into our own,” he said. “We lost three games that whole year. I played with great guys; it was wonderful, man. Great experience, great community, great coaches, and I think that was the best year of my life.”
After making the rounds to Virginia and Florida, Fall, who once recorded a record nine blocks at the Big Apple Classic in New York, decided it was time to return to the City. He says he knew he wanted to be back, and St. Francis came around at the right time.
“When I spoke to coach Braica during the recruiting process, I knew I wanted to come here because he didn’t tell me any nonsense,” Fall said. “He just told me ‘if you come here and work hard, you’ll play.’ I believe in my work ethic, I came here, did that, and played.”
In his first season at SFC as a sophomore, Fall averaged 5.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 16.8 minutes per game.
Minutes were hard to come by at first, but Fall ended the season on a high-note, most notably recording 21 points, nine rebounds and 10 blocks in a win over Bryant shortly before the NEC playoffs. The 21 points and 10 blocks still sit as career-highs for Fall.
“When I got here at first, I came in with a lot of talent (around me). Wayne (Martin) was here, Jalen (Cannon), Matt Milk, so when I first got here I didn’t know if I was going to play,” Fall said, reflecting on his previous uncertainty. “Toward the end of that school year I had some real good games. One of the best games of my life I had it against Bryant.”
Last season, Fall left an even bigger impact en route to earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Fall finished with 6.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and a league-high 2.8 blocks per game, which also placed him tied for 14th in the country.
His contributions played a significant role in the Terriers earning the NEC Regular Season Championship title after a remarkable regular season, which included a staggering (15-3) in conference play.
“I had a great year; I was blocking shots, I had a decent scoring year, and I wasn’t really healthy because I had some back issues,” he said. “But I think last year was a great year overall.”
Fall’s main focus now is helping his team win the league, which he feels they’re capable of doing after coming so close to winning it all last season. Fall says that the team is coming along well, hitting their groove right before playoff time, and this is after what he felt was an inconsistent start to the season.
“Right now I think our team is really starting to mesh together. We’re winning games – the team is playing better; guys are making shots, which helps,” he said. “Yunus (Hopkinson) has been playing great, Tyreek (Jewell) is making shots also, and we’re just playing better as a group. We want to win the league, that’s our main goal, and losing last year the way we lost it still crosses my mind sometimes, we almost had it – I think we can beat anybody in this conference.”