In 2006, the Seattle Supersonics made a suspect move to select Mouhamed Saer Sene with the tenth overall pick. Saer Sene, then a 20-year old Senegalese center, had only one year of professional experience-in Belgium no less-while Arutro’s hits of Renaldo Balkman, Rajon Rondo, and Paul Millsap. All three would become great NBA players, although Balkman never received much of a chance. Other solid players available included J.J. Redick, Thabo Sefolosha, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Lowry, Steve Novak, and Leon Powe. What Sene did have going for him was a 7’8.5″ wingspan, but height alone does not make an NBA player.
What Sene never got was a shot at a real career. To date, he has only played 260 NBA minutes in 47 NBA games, with no more than 169 minutes in a single season, his rookie season. Those 162 minutes were absolutely awful, but his 62 in the following year were not, and the 29 the year after were ridiculously amazing. All of these evaluations, though, suffer from extremely small sample size. In 2006-07 and 2007-08, Sene also spent a somewhat substantial amount of time with the Idaho Stampede of the D-League, where he played fairly well if not exceptionally. He was cut by Seattle in the middle of the 2008-09 season and was signed by the Knicks on April 9 after playing amazingly for ten games with the D-League’s Albuqerque Thunderbirds-he averaged nearly 17 rebounds, pace-adjusted, per 48 minutes! Cut by the Knicks at the end of the season having only suited up for them once, he went off to Europe, and that may be the last most people on this side of the Atlantic will ever hear of him.
However, the draft bust did not stop playing basketball. His first destination was Hyeres-Toulon of the French Pro A. He shot a good 56% from the field, and his rebound rate was even higher than it was in Albuquerque. Among centers with over 200 minutes played, only the immortal Nick Fazekas had a higher Win Score by a slim margin, and his sample size was only a third as large. (Note that I am not being sarcastic about Fazekas; in 269 NBA minutes, he produced wins at a .320 clip per 48 according to Wins Produced, and was an absolute beast in college as well.) Sene produced similar numbers the following season for BCM Gravelines Dunkerque, leading the league now that Fazekas was plying his trade with the D-League’s Reno Bighorns. In fact, his rebound rate rose to a whopping 18.6 per 48. In last season’s NBA, only Marcus Camby could exceed that for 1,000 minutes or more.
Now, the French league is not exactly made of world-beaters, so Sene traveled to Spain to play for Baloncesto Fuenlabrada, which in my opinion was a really awesome name, in the Europe’s best domestic league, the ACB. His dominance didn’t stop in France, though, as the man was third in the league for center Win Score Per 40 Minutes among those with more than 200 minutes, behind only James Augustine and Boniface Ndong. He has at it again this year as he is tied for fourth among centers behind Ognjen Kuzmic, Ante Tomic, and Lucas Nogueira. Draft buffs will recognize Kuzmic and Nogueira’s names from recent draft discussions, as Kuzmic was the No. 52 pick last year courtesy of the Warriors and the Brazilian Nogueira is No. 37 on the www.draftexpress.com Top 100 Prospects list. Tomic is a regular in Eurobasket competition and was selected 44th overall by Utah in 2008.
I honestly believe that Mouhamed Saer Sene should get another chance in the NBA. He has paid his dues overseas, and he feel like he has the right to examine what he can do, as the only players better at him at his position are either well-recognized Eurostars or players who have received legitimate NBA attention. NBA front offices love sinking further money and attention into sunk costs, but it seems to be working the other way here as they appear to have given up on him for good. In fact, he essentially got a raw deal to start with because of the aforementioned grand total of 269 minutes. It is definitely time for Saer Sene to serenade some scouts. Thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.