VALPARAISO | Howard Little knew he wouldn’t see any of his former teammates when he returned to Valparaiso to watch an offseason workout in August.
Walking down the halls of the Athletics-Recreation Center, the 2011 graduate talked about how strange it was that every player from his senior year had moved on from Valparaiso.
Just as Little was getting the last words out of his mouth, the door to the locker room opened and out came Alabama transfer Moussa Gueye.
Without missing a beat, Little grabbed the unsuspecting big man and started to give him a little grief.
“You were supposed to come play with me,” Little said. “What took you so long?”
Gueye, the one-time Valparaiso commit, smiled and shrugged his shoulders before giving a reassuring “I’m here now.”
The Senegal native hasn’t spent much time concentrating on the past since he announced in May that he would be playing his final season with the Crusaders. Gueye originally verbaled to Valparaiso in 2009 when he was a freshman at Lake Land College (Ill.) and was set to join the program for the 2011-12 season. By 2010 Gueye decided to open up his recruitment and ultimately chose the Crimson Tide over Valparaiso.
Now after two years with Alabama, Gueye finally feels comfortable with the Crusaders.
“This is the right program for me,” Gueye said. “This is the right place to come in and get better. This is my home.”
Just because Gueye was comfortable with Valparaiso the second time around didn’t necessarily mean that Bryce Drew and the coaching staff were going to feel the same way. Drew did his due diligence after receiving word that Gueye was interested in transferring.
“We had a good relationship with Moussa in the past, but we wanted to have him for a visit and talk to him,” Drew said. “The campus had changed and we wanted to see if he had changed. What kind of kid was he? Did he fit in with the guys? Guys look for things differently the second time around we found that it was a great fit.”
Drew made a point to have a discussion with junior center Vashil Fernandez before finalizing the offer to Gueye. Knowing that the two played the same position, Drew wanted to gauge Fernandez’s take on the situation.
“You never know how a guy is going to react, but we wanted to have that conversation,” Drew said. “I think Vashil has welcomed Moussa to the team more than maybe anyone else has. These two just make each other so much better in practice every day and it really helps both of them.”
Neither Drew nor Gueye have set any expectations on the upcoming season, a far cry from when Mohamed Kone arrived on campus in 2005 with claims that he was going to dominate the opposition.
Gueye’s purpose is to help the Crusaders win games, return to the NCAA tournament and then sign a professional contract.
“I just want to keep everything simple,” Gueye said. “I’m pumped up right now to start this season. I’m just very excited to play here and to go out and get wins.”