KANSAS CITY, Mo.–Sagaba Konate is one of the Big 12’s top defenders but he hails from a family of 13 children and had to work hard at making a name for himself.
Growing up in a big family had its perks and downfalls but at the end of the day, family is what’s important.
“It wasn’t hard but it was hard,” Konate said. “I had a big family because my dad had two wives. So sometimes we fight but it’s your family. We support each other.”
The sophomore came to the United State from Mali, like five of his brothers in search of better educational and athletic opportunities.
For Konate, it wasn’t the easiest transition.
“It was hard,” he said. “Being away from your family is hard. Trying to be here sometimes, English is a difficult language so you have to keep focused and chase your dreams.”
Konate’s primary language is French.
Bakary is a senior center at Minnesota. He averages 1.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest
Fousseini and Lassana played basketball at Point Park. And the oldest brother Ibraham played at Boston College from 2005 to 2009.
Being in different places and having opposite schedules makes it hard for Sagaba to remain in close contact with his brothers and sisters.
“Sometimes we talk but not a lot,” he said.
Growing up, the Konate brothers were all very into soccer and didn’t get into basketball until an older age. Sagaba began playing basketball in 2011.
Since they were an athletic family, there was a lot of competitiveness in the house.
As far as Sagaba’s success goes, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward just worked hard and figured it out on his own.
“No one taught me to block,” he said. “I just kind of figured it out on my own.”
During his sophomore season, fans have gotten the chance to see Sagaba emerge as an all-around complete player this season.
He averages 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Sagaba is one of the nation’s top blockers with 101 blocks on the season.
“When I started playing basketball, all I was doing was defensive stuff like blocks, dunking the ball,” he said. “I really wasn’t into scoring the ball. Since I got into college, I started to work on my offense and defense was there.”
One day Sagaba may get to chance to be what Lebron James and Ben Wallace were to him to some other budding basketball star.