When you interview as many guys like I have that have played from the NCAA to Juco, there are coaches that stick with me. When I prepared questions recently for Den Bosch forward Chris Ebou-Ndow, his ex coach Ben McCullum rang a bell. He had coached the Norwegian at Northwest Missouri State and I quickly checked the ex players that had played there the last years. Then it dawned on me that I had heard the name Ben McCUllum for the first time in 2015 when I interviewed an unknown Regionalliga player in Germany by the name of Elijath Allen. The American had no easy journey playing NCAA 2 ball and then paying his dues in Ireland and Germany’s fourth division. He climbed the basketball ladder playing 2 more years in the Pro B (3rd division Germany), but then with the combination of hard work and love for the game reached his pinnacle playing 3 years in the Pro A (Germany’s 2nd division) playing 100 games and being a consistent role player that did a little bit of everything. He retired a few months ago after a fruitful 10 year playing career. McCullum was vital for Allen becoming the player he would be in Germany. ‘Ben showed me how to have a good work ethic and how to handle myself off the court. He taught me to always be tough on the court. He was big on sticking to the basics and was very old school. He didn’t like the flashy. It was A&B and nothing extra with him. The values that he put in me I’ll keep forever’, stressed Elijah Allen. It wasn’t any different for Ndow who was able to profit so much under McCullum at Northwest Missouri State and take everything he learned and implement it to also having a fruitful career overseas. ‘Coach Mac built a culture there that is unmatched. One often thinks that getting the most talented guys will help win titles, but that isn’t the case. You need players that will buy into the concept of the team and do the little things to help make others better. He taught kids to play the right way and not worry about stats. He is a very special coach’, warned Chris-Ebou Ndow (201-F-1993, college: NW Missouri St.). He came to Northwest Missouri State with talent and athleticism and returned overseas being able to impact winning in any way
Chris-Ebou Ndow who lists current NBA player Grayson Allen as being the toughest player he ever faced on the court during school is a 29 year old 201cm forward that was born in Stavanger, Norway. He began his basketball career in Norway and played for clubs like Gimle BBK Bergen (BLN), Ulriken Eagles (BLNO) and Froya Basket (BLNO) where he won the league title. He then played briefly in Germany with the BiG Oettinger Rockets Gotha (ProA) playing only 2 games and played 7 games for Big Basketball Gotha 2 (Germany-2.Regionalliga) averaging 15.6ppg. He then returned back home and played with Laksevag (BLNO) averaging 18.5ppg, 7.3rpg, 1.2apg, 1.7spg, FGP: 56.5%, 3PT: 55.6%, FT: 70.0%. Even if it was 8 years ago that he was in Gotha, he feels as if time has really flown. ‘People told me to always enjoy the moment because time goes by fast. I remember Gotha as if it was yesterday’, remembered Chris-Ebou Ndow. He had 4 points in 5 minutes in his first game, but his stay was turbulent. ‘I remember Gotha being a very frustrating year. I was dealing with knee problems. I never got into the rotation or found my rhythm. My body just wasn’t right’, said Chris-Ebou Ndow. One player he has very fond memories of was undersized big man Torvoris Baker. ‘He was one of the older guys on the team. He was a great guy and I really got along well with him. The other guy that I got a long with really well was David Watson. Both are still friends today’, stated Chri-Ebou Ndow. He then made the trek across the pond to the United States and played at Northwest Missouri State University from 2015-2018 playing a total of 94 games and was able to improve his points, rebounds and assists average per season and as a senior averaged 13.8ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 71.6%. He helped the school win the NCAA 2 title in 2017. Americans are often in awe of having that college experience, but even guys form overseas love the experience. ‘It was a great time there. I went there not knowing what to expect. But the time was one of my funniest in my life. I was fortunate being in a positive culture and having a great coach like Ben McCullum. Not many D-2 schools have a coach like that. He is one of the best in the country. I took winning back to Europe with me. Playing there is a reason I am the player I am today’, warned Chris-Ebou Ndow. He saved his best for last pouring in 17 points and hauling down 18 rebounds in the title win over Fairmount State. ‘Yes I did. That is probably the most fun game that I ever played in. I rank it top 3. We were so ready. I can’t remember ever being so locked in for a game like that one. We were all on the same page. It was a perfect game’, remembered Chris-Edou Ndow. In his 3 seasons at Northwest Missouri State, he helped the school win 3 straight MIAA titles and was able to improve his scoring, rebounding and assist average each season and as a senior averaged 13.8ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 44.9%, FT: 71.6%. He came as a not finished player yet and left as a winner. ‘I was a lot smarter when I left. When I went there I was talented and athletic, but I didn’t know how to play the game and impact winning. Now I can impact winning in any way. Attention to detail was also crucial. That helps in winning. It isn’t about scoring 30 points, but what you do each possession’, warned Chris-Ebou Ndow who remembers beating teammate Brett Dougherty who was one of the best players he played against. Some of his bests coring games were against Central Mo with 27 points and 24 points against Lincoln Memorial.
The defensive stopper who credits Justin Pitts, Stephen Brown, Thomas Van der Mars, David Skara, and Shawn King as being his 5 best teammates of all-time returned back home in 2018-2019 to ball for the Kongsberg Miners (Norway-BLNO) averaging 20.6ppg, 9.8rpg, 2.7apg, Steals-4 (2.2spg), FGP: 58.5%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 78.3%. His winning in the NCAA 2 rubbed off on his teammates on the Miners as they won the league title. ‘When I came home and began playing for the Miners, I realized just how much my game had grown in the NCAA 2. We won the title and I was MVP. It was a nice valudation for all the hard work that I had put in. It was even nicer being able to play in front of family and friends’, remembered Chris-Ebou Ndow. He scored in double figures in 32 of 34 games and scored 20 points or more 20 times and had a 35 point explosion against Tromso and 30 points against Gimle BBK. He also registered 16 double doubles. He then played 2 seasons with Denain ASC Voltaire (France-ProB) averaging 11.3ppg, 4.7rpg, 1.6apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 57.1%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 71.1% and in his second season averaged 10.5ppg, 6.5rpg, 2.1apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 29.2%, FT: 73.2%. It wasn’t an easy time with Covid being present, but he did the most of the situation. ‘I took that season game by game and my focus was being consistent. We had a low budget and weren’t expected to make the playoffs, but landed in fourth place. We had momentum and that kept everyone motivated.. I also felt that responsibility to lead the team. This was the best team that the club had ever had’, expressed Chris-Edou Ndow. He played a total of 56 Pro B games and scored in double figures in 35 games including 25 points against Paris. Last season was another tough season as he played briefly with Boulazac Basket Dordogne (France-ProB) averaging 1.7ppg, 1.7rpg, 1.3apg, and then moved to Leyma Basquet Coruna (Spain-LEB Gold) averaging 9.3ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 52.0%, 3PT: 35.2%, FT: 71.9%. Even if the France gig didn’t work out, he finished strong in Spain and dueled against former NBA player Marc Gasol 4 times but lost everytime including being swept in the playoffs. Being able to play against Gasol is something he will be able to tell his grandchildren. ‘Last season the situation didn’t fit. I learned from that experience that it is important to be wanted. Now I’m in a place where I’m liked. I remember the games well. He used last season to get back into shape. The team wasn’t doing so well, but began to play in mid season when I joined Coruna. He is a great player. His size and ability to move so well and shoot the three is a match up nightmare for everyone. It was tough facing them in the playoffs. He was a very great guy and I remember him being very humble’, added Chris-Ebou Ndow. He scored in double figures in 7 games including 18 points against Lleida.
The former Norwegian U-18 national player who has Lebron, Jordan, Kobe, and KD on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore this season has taken on the new challenge of playing for Heroes Den Bosch (Holland-DBL). He didn’t waste anytime by winning the cup already. It is obvious that he is in love with his new team. ‘The organization is very professional from top to bottom. They handle things the right way and take good care of their players. That is something that isn’t promised on each team. This is one of the better teams that I have played with in my career’, warned Chris-Ebou Ndow. He has had no adjustment period in the BNXT league filling the stat sheet like a Lebron averaging 13,3ppg, 7,0rpg, 2,9apg and 2,2spg and in the Fiba Europe Cup is averaging 13,8ppg, 8,7rpg, 3,3apg and 1,2spg. He has played in various leagues in his career and sees differences to the BNXT league and France Pro B. ‘France Pro B was a tough league. I believe that it is the best second league in Europe. The play varies a lot in Holland from top to bottom. The top teams like Den Bosch or Leiden are very good, but the gap is very big from the top to the ones at the bottom. That wasn’t the case in France’, said Chris-Ebou Ndow. His versatility is seen on a daily basis and battling experienced American Donte Thomas on a daily basis in practice has helped his game evolve as well. ‘We have a lot of smart players. I really enjoy the team. The players understand how to play and the coach does a good job as well. My job is doing a little bit of everything. I take it game to game and do what the team needs of me. Some games it will be scoring while in other games passing or defense. Donte is a real competitor. Sometimes the best practice that we get is when we play against each other daily in practice. He really makes me have to step up my game to match his energy. He is a great teammate and friend’, stressed Chris-Ebou Ndow. His game resembles Miami Heat Jimmy Butler as he loves how he plays defense. ‘. My big strength is my defense. I can guard 1-4 and help the team win. I’m the kind of player that can score 5 points and still impact the game. But I can also score 20-25 points in a game. It is all about what the team needs’, commented Chris-Ebou Ndow. Scoring and rebounding stands out right away when examining his game, but he also has other attributes. ‘I feel like I’m an underrated passer. I think I can get my teammates involved. I try to make the right play and don’t chase stats’, warned Chris-Ebou Ndow. As he approaches his thirties, he knows exactly on what area’s of his game he needs to focus on most. ‘I think now at my age it is all about continuing to read certain situations and having the IQ intact. At the same time I continue to polish my skills’, stated Chris-Edou Ndow. It will be interesting to see where his basketball journey will take him in the next years. But one thing is for sure as long as he can continue to impact winning, he will surely always get a basketball job somewhere.