FRANKLIN, Mass. -- Tacko Fall has heard the question time and time again.
“How tall are you?”
“Five-11,” quipped Fall who has learned to have some fun with the all-too-common question that you kind of expect to be asked of someone like himself who stands well north of 7-feet tall.
It’s easy to lock in on his 7-foot-7 frame and not think about him beyond that.
But there’s so much more to Fall, a rookie signed to an Exhibit 10 contract earlier this summer by the Celtics.
His Exhibit 10 contract guarantees he’ll get a small signing bonus and an invitation to training camp.
Beyond that, the perks aren’t great.
And yet despite an uncertain future with the Celtics, you would think he was bound for the Hall of Fame with the amount of attention he has received seemingly wherever he goes in New England.
“Sometimes I feel like my height … obviously I am very tall,” Fall told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s gonna stick out. But a lot of times I don’t want to feel like a freak show. I feel I’m a lot more than that, I’ve shown I’m a lot more than that. Things like this, I try to show the type of person I am and keep building from there.”
The “this” Fall was referring to was the Home Makeover program sponsored by Arbella Insurance which brought him to Franklin, Mass. to participate in some basketball drills in addition to seeing the Celtics-themed room renovation.
Being 7-7, Fall has to be careful of how he navigates his way in and out of houses.
But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Fall understands angles so well considering his academic background.
A native of Senegal, Fall learned at an early age how to manage both academics and athletics.
“When I was a kid, my mom was really strict about school,” Fall said. “Growing up, that was my mentality. I approach everything the same way, whether it’s in the classroom or on the court. I try to be the best at everything I do.”
Fall is indeed a late bloomer when it comes to basketball, but has proven himself both on and off the court as being able to pick up things quickly.
It took him about eight months to become fluent in English once he arrived in the United States.
And his SAT scores in high school ranked among the 95th percentile, with him taking advanced math and science courses soon followed by him majoring in Computer Science at the University of Central Florida.
Now, Fall finds himself being more of a student of the game, looking to continue his unexpected basketball ascension while making the most of every opportunity that comes his way.
Following his senior year at UCF, Fall did not get an invite to the NBA Combine.
However, he was among the 80 players invited to the NBA G-League Elite camp, with the top players in that camp getting an invite to the NBA Pre-Draft combine.
Fall earned a spot at the NBA combine, and made his presence felt by setting several records including tallest height in shoes (7-7), wingspan (8-2 ¼) and standing reach (10-2 ½) which allows him to dunk without jumping.
But Fall knows regardless of the stats or the adulation he has received, he comes into training camp next month with no guarantees other than the opportunity to play his way into a guaranteed roster spot with the Celtics.
“I know what I am fighting for,” Fall said. “That hasn’t changed since I got here. I know what I am capable of and where I want to be and where I need to be. I’m gonna fight every day to be in that position and stay there. I love the game of basketball and there’s no better place to do it than the NBA. Night-in, night out, play against the best players in the world. For me, that’s fun.”
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