The continuing rise of Tacko Fall

He’s a 19-year-old prodigy that commands the attention of his classmates at Liberty Christian Prep in Tavares, Florida just by his mere presence alone.

“Taaackoooo” shout a couple more of his admirers as he strolls into the gym during free period.

He smiles, acknowledges and then enters the gym and walks to a basketball hoop, stands underneath, reaching up with that same left arm and nearly touching the rim without lifting his heels. He poses for a photo. He’s used to that. He gets snapped wherever he goes, even without his permission.

Yep, you guessed it: He’s tall.

But, while most ballers are known for their height and athletic prowess, Fall is recognised purely for just his height. Standing at 7’6″, the wonder kid stands head, shoulder and probably waists above his classmates.

The prospect of Fall is that at 19; he might still grow some more.

Born Elhadji Tacko Sereigne Diop Fall, the big man originally hails from Dakar, the capital of Senegal but while he would normally walk into a room and be the tallest person there, there are no major height genes in the Fall family.

His uncle is 6’8″ but that’s about it. Tacko’s brother and half-sister are of average height, as are his parents. But they could only look on as he grew and grew … and grew.

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Even in his early days, Fall dwarved over 7-footer Shaquille O’Neal and coach Chris Fischer

As far as basketball goes, the sky is the limit, without the pun. But as a kid, Tacko was not thinking about slam dunks, he was thinking about football until a few years ago, when a man named Ibrahim N’Diaye spotted him and offered him a chance to train in his Senegalese basketball academy.

N’Diaye was credible: his brother, Mamadou, played in the NBA and is now an assistant coach at Georgia Tech.

Finally a friend of Mamadou N’Diaye who lived in Central Florida suggested Liberty Christian Prep. The new principal there, Tony Atkins, was also the basketball coach. But there was still an issue about where Tacko and one of his friends who came with him from Senegal, Ange Badji, would live.

A public relations consultant in the Tavares area named Mandy Wettstein, who represented Liberty Christian Prep as a client, heard about two Senegalese boys needing a home.

She wanted to help, but nobody seemed to know when they would arrive.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to think about it or prepare,” said Wettstein, who now hosts Tacko and Ange. “We were figuring this out together. We thought [we had] three days. It was 48 hours.”

And to this day, Tacko Fall is doing just fine. His English, a fourth language after French, Arabic and an African language called Wolof, is excellent. He has a 4.0 GPA and he’s decided on UCF for college, which will keep him near his host family and his friends. It will put him on the path to an engineering job; where he hopes to someday work for a tech company like Siemens or Microsoft.

Choosing a college also ends the rancor of recruiting, although his AAU coach is asked if he can be convinced to switch. Tacko can spend his senior season learning the game and enjoying the cocoon of a tiny school in an out-of-the-way place.

And his basketball dreams?

“I want to be a McDonald’s All-American,” he says with a smile.

The video below is all you need to know about Tacko Fall today.