University of Arkansas 5-star center signee Baye Fall was humbled by the outpouring of support from the Razorback fans while attending the Kentucky game on March 4.
He also visited Fayetteville for last year's Kentucky game.
"This year was a little different from last year, it was more amazing than last year because the people had already gotten familiar with me, so just coming in there walking around with my family was a blast for us," Fall said. "We really had fun with people acknowledging us. I'm really grateful for that."
He along with his cousin, Assane Diop, a Colorado basketball signee, came to the U.S. from Senegal in 2019 to pursue educational and basketball opportunities.
Fall, 6-11, 205 pounds, of Denver Accelerated Schools inked with the Razorbacks over Auburn, Rutgers and Seton Hall while also having scholarship offers from Kansas, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, UCLA, Southern Cal, Kansas State and others.
On3.com rates him a 5-star recruit, the No.3 center and the No. 19 overall prospect in the nation for the 2023 class.
Being a signee allowed Arkansas to introduce Fall during the game on the big screen inside Walton Arena.
"When they showed me on the big screen that was really great, too, and I really appreciate that and my family did as well," Fall said. "It will be a moment I will remember for forever. I never had that before. That was my first time to be exposed to that many people on the big screen."
Fall was moved by the moment and stood up and acknowledged fans while also putting his hands together to form a heart.
"Just a lot of emotions man, mostly just love," Fall said. "Love for the fans, love for the team. Just the love they showed that just really motivated me and put it into my head that moment and seeing how the fans are so into the team, and the players like me, and all the other players.
"During those 15- 20 seconds, I felt a lot of love that's why I put up the heart with my hands. It just made me feel like I have to come out here and bring joy to the fans and bring winning."
Fall, who plans to report to Fayetteville in late May, averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks while playing for the Colorado Hawks on the Adidas 3SSB circuit last year.
He was named a McDonald's All-American in January and will take part in the game on March 28 at Toyota Center in Houston. Fall is the fourth Razorback signee to be named to the prestigious event the past two years.
Leaving his homeland to pursue his dreams has given Fall a refreshing appreciation for his opportunities in America and as a Razorback,
"It's just how I grew and how I was raised," Fall said. "I think everybody should be that way because those fans are just amazing. I've never [seen] anything like Arkansas fans, like ever. I've been watching sports. I've been following sports for a lot of time, but I've never seen that and then they're not getting paid to do that. When feelings are expressed to me I try and give it back."
Being in the locker room prior to the game and listening to Coach Eric Musselman's pregame speech was eye-opening for Fall.
"That's something I have to get use to," Fall said. "Me and Coach Muss have a great relationship. Sometimes we talk, but I didn't know he was that hyped. The speech he gave before the game was really motivating. I'm just looking forward to experiencing that myself."
With Arkansas having one of the best home court advantages in college basketball, Fall is looking forward to playing in front of the Razorback fans.
"I think the crowd will impact how I perform because I love big games with big crowds," Fall said. " I'll get to have that a lot at Arkansas, so it's really exciting and it's telling me to work more, so I can bring showtime over there."
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]