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Potential YSU players familiar with one another

Myles Hunter saw that smiling face nearby. It’s one of his closest friends, Cheick (pronounced Shake) Traore.

The two have been playing for the Charlotte Aces, an AAU team in North Carolina, for the last couple of seasons.

The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Traore is not only a talent shot blocker and rebounder, but a genuine, good person on and off the court.

“He cares about you a lot,” said Hunter, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound guard. “I think he would sacrifice himself in some cases for you.

“He’ll text me sometimes and say, ‘How was your day?’ He gave me some advice with this recruiting process. He’s overall great person and a great friend.”

The two recently made their verbal commitments to Youngstown State University’s men’s basketball program. They cannot officially sign letters of intent until Nov. 13, nor can college coaches comment on recruits until they officially sign to their respective school.

William Dunn, a 6-7, 187-pound forward, of Quincy (Mich.) High School also verbally committed.

Traore had offers from UNC-Ashville, Winthrop and Presbyterian, while Hunter had looks from Presbyterian and Hampton. According to reports, Davidson had some strong consideration in Traore.

Traore averaged nine points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game last season with Concord (N.C.) First Assembly Academy, while Hunter was part of a state championship team last year at Carmel Christian in Matthews, N.C.

Traore said his friend is a good guy, a go-to person wherever the two might be – giving the best of himself to others.

Good hands. Definitely.

Court knowledge. Absolutely.

“I know if he can shoot, he’s really dangerous,” Traore said. “Being one of the first people when I came here and one of my best friends, I can tell you he’s a good guy.”

Homesick. Players, not just at YSU, have felt this way before – coming from a far distance to Youngstown. It happens.

Not for these two North Carolina-based players.

“We’ve been teammates before,” Hunter said. “Our chemistry is going to be good. We’re going to adjust to how they play. I think it’s going to be easier for us to do it together because of our history.”

Traore is from the Ivory Coast of Africa, between Liberia and Ghana.

He only started playing basketball six years ago when he literally outgrew soccer.

Traore, dreamed like other children, of being like Ivory Coast professional players like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure,

His feet grew to size 15, which in the Ivory Coast, a French-speaking country, is difficult to get, especially in soccer cleats. Getting anything above size 13 was too expensive for Traore’s family.

Basketball. It became an option. He could even play in his school shoes.

“To be honest, I didn’t know basketball could take me from my country to here,” Traore said. “I just wanted to try. One day, my coach asked if I would come with him. I went with him and got MVP just by blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, having some fun.”

Initially, through the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders and Aces owner Kevin Ligon, Traore came to the United States in 2017, as said in an article in the Charlotte Observer. Traore was given a five-year visa.

He’s in American for an education and to play basketball, something he’ll continue at YSU.

“All of this is a blessing for me,” Traore said. “I never imagined the way my family was living that living level we had that God could bless me with something like coming from Africa to America and play basketball. It was unbelievable to me. I’m always thanking God for making it happen. That’s why I keep playing hard anytime I’m on the court. I don’t think about the next game. I’m just think about the one I’m playing now, give everything and have no regrets.”

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