Gonzaga freshman big man Oumar Ballo has been declared an academic redshirt, per a GU press release Monday afternoon. The man nicknamed “Baby Shaq” will miss the entirety of the season and have four years of eligibility remaining starting in 2020-2021.
Gonzaga freshman center Oumar Ballo has been declared an academic redshirt by the NCAA. Will not play in games this season, but remains on scholarship and can practice with team.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) October 28, 2019
Ballo will still be able to practice and be part of the team, along with keeping him athletic scholarship. As Coach Few points out in the release, “International academic eligibility can be complicated.” Between his schooling in Mali, then in Spain, then the NBA Academy last year, along with his reclassification to 2019, there were a lot of different factors that contributed to the complications.
A lot of people thought Ballo could be on a similar program to what Rui Hachimura did, in that he would play very sparingly in his freshman season before breaking out his sophomore year. The timeline of this does not change. He still has the ability to strengthen his body and his game with a redshirt year and will be a huge part of the 2020-21 team, especially without Killian Tillie and potentially Filip Petrusev leaving early for the NBA.
As for this season, the goals of the team don’t really change. If anything, it means we could see a little more Pavel Zakharov at the start of the year while Tillie eases his way back into heavy minutes. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Ballo dunk on poor souls until next winter.