Centerville, Ohio— Coming off two straight district finals appearances and multiple close outcomes against nationally ranked Moeller, the Centerville Elks were looking to have historic seasons for the next two to three years. Sharpshooter, Tom House, has been one of Dayton’s many faces of this year’s stock rise Summer, along with 6’7″ stretch, Rich Rolf. Add in nationally known sophomore, Gabe Cupps, and the Elks were set to be a top contender to finally defeat Ohio’s most dominant team in recent years, the Moeller Crusaders.
The depth doesn’t stop with House, Cupps, and Rolf. ’21 Jayson Hayes is one of the city’s top guards. Varsity role players, Max Knauer, Tre Johnson, and Ryan Keifer, are all ready for role increases. JV starters, Irmuun Mandakh, Tristan Klumb, Quinn Hafner, Cam Smith, and Eman Deng all have the ability to contribute at the varsity level as well.
Possibly the biggest name throughout the Centerville program going into this upcoming season, was 6’8″ Kebba Njie. Njie was already a key contributor during the Elk’s 2019-2020 season, but would have to step up even more, with the graduation of his older brother, and former Centerville starting center, Mo Njie.
But, Kebba shocked the city when he decided he would be taking a different route to get to his division one dreams . . . La Lumiere Academy.
Lumiere is a profound prep school in La Porte, Indiana, located four hours away from his home. The perennial powerhouse has received six consecutive invitations to the GEICO Nationals, along with finishing the recent season with a MaxPreps ranking of 8th nationally, and a preseason ranking this year of 3rd nationally.
But, why would Njie leave an already stacked Centerville program with much to offer? There’s one simple answer. He simply wanted to take his game to the next level . . .
“Whether it’s from the competition in practice and games to developing my skill as a basketball player, I feel the need to take it all a step further. I chose La Lumiere because they are great school when it comes to what I was looking for. They have great players on their team so the competition in practice will be on a whole different level. This will give me the opportunity to show my skills everyday against D1 athletes,” said Njie.
Kebba Njie has managed to stack up an abundance of division one interest, but has remained under the radar when it comes to offers, yet to receive his first. With his transfer to Lumiere, we can expect to see one of his many interests to come forward and offer the 6’8″ forward. Will it be a native program like Dayton, Xavier, Cincinnati, or Ohio State? Or could it be a powerhouse away from home like Wisconsin or Purdue?
This is a huge gain for Lumiere, but an even bigger loss for the Elks. With the loss of Njie, they lose their key defensive presence down low, and a key contributor on the offensive end. He can rebound, run the floor, and catch & face to score around the perimeter, mid range, and down low. He was the unanimous lock-in for their starting center position. Even with the loss of two of the three Njie brothers, they certainly don’t lack in height with House at 6’6″, Rolf at 6’8″, and possibly their next in line at the five slot, Tre Johnson at 6’9″.
’21 Johnson had this to say about the loss of Njie, “When I found out Kebba was officially leaving, it sucked. He played a huge role. He went into every game with high expectations for us. He was my accountability partner, so we talked about everything from basketball to other things. Everyone respected him on the team.”
Johnson spent last season between Junior Varsity and some time contributing at the Varsity level. He’s had a big Summer, performing well in the AAU scene, participating in the Coach Render Rec Runs, and even earning an invite to our MVHV Dayton Elite Run. His raw talent and build combined with his work ethic could result in a huge role increase now with the loss of Njie.
“I feel like I’ve been ready for this role. Knowing the guys that will be returning for this season, I’m positive with our talent we will go far.”
Njie leaving is not only a sizeable loss for Centerville, but the Dayton basketball scene as a whole. He is the 26th player to transfer from or to another school that we cover in the Dayton area, just during this off-season. He’s only the 3rd Dayton player this off-season to transfer to a prep school. Belmont‘s Shawn Phillips decided to team up with arguably the best player currently in high school basketball, Emoni Bates, at Ypsi Prep in Michigan. And, GCL Co-ED‘s Larry Kocisko was the only prep transfer to stay in Ohio, heading north to ISA.
With Mo Njie reclassifying and heading to Florida, and Kebba Njie transferring to Indiana, Dayton has lost two of their best big men. Thankfully, Mo & Kebba aren’t the last of the Njie’s we’ll see suit up in the black and yellow.
The youngest of the three, Baboucarr Njie, will be enrolling at Centerville for his freshman season this upcoming year. Unlike his older brothers, he has yet to hit his growth spurt, only standing at 6’2″ and playing the guard position. It’s safe to say once he does hit his spurt, he will be a major threat, having Mo’s height, Kebba’s ability to stretch the floor, and his own ability to shift defenders off the dribble. Could Baboucarr be the best of the three Njie’s?
With Mo possibly returning to play in Ohio at the collegiate level, Baboucarr enrolling as an Elk, and Kebba hopefully suiting up for La Lumiere at Flyin’ To The Hoop, we’ll still be seeing a lot of the Njie’s dominance on the court.
Dear players & coaches, if you come across any misinformation about you or your players, be sure to let us know by contacting us on one of our social media platforms !