Celtics

A tall order for Celtics' Tacko Fall to prove he has more to offer than incredible height

A tall order for Celtics' Tacko Fall to prove he has more to offer than incredible height

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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Do the Boston Celtics need frontcourt help?

Do the Boston Celtics need frontcourt help?

The Boston Celtics are off to an 11-3 start to the 2019-20 campaign, which currently has them tied for first place in the Eastern Conference.

But if you're going to pick out one weakness on this year's C's squad, it's probably the frontcourt. It begs the question: Should they go out and get a legit big man on the trade market, or can they get by with the guys they have?

NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin and A. Sherrod Blakely weighed in on that very subject on the latest Celtics Talk Podcast.

"I am very hopeful when it comes to the frontcourt," Chin said. "I think that we have seen Robert Williams take steps particularly on the defensive end that I wasn't sure he could make, and I think if he continues on that trajectory and kind of figures out his positioning and hustles and plays hard, I think that that's going to be a huge help to the Celtics.

"And then additionally, Grant Williams. I am high on Grant Williams. The guy is so smart, and I know he is so undersized, but he's got so much heart and he is almost like a Marcus Smart 2.0 and he just wants to make plays. He just wants to impact winning, and I think there's value in that."

"I look at their situation the way that I would look at getting a new car," Blakely said. "How much is this going to cost me? How much am I going to have to lose in order to gain this new nice shiny vehicle? And to me, that's the issue that Danny Ainge has to grapple with.

"Because right now, he can get by with the group he has and they can make a little bit of noise in the playoffs, but you know that it is a weakness. You know that if you get a certain matchup, it could spell the end of your season. So you're going to need some luck on the way if you stick with the group that you have and make no significant changes."

Listen to the full episode below (frontcourt talks begins at 10:00 mark)

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Positive signs from Celtics west coast trip, Thanksgiving superlatives

Celtics Talk Podcast: Positive signs from Celtics west coast trip, Thanksgiving superlatives

A. Sherrod Blakely is joined by Abby Chin to break down the Celtics West Coast trip. They discuss their impressions of the Celtics now, and how they have changed from the start of the season. We also have some fun giving out some Thanksgiving superlatives. 

2:30 - How do we feel about the Celtics West Coast trip so far?  

5:00 - Has Jayson Tatum showed he can make the ‘leap’ to the next level? How much has he impacted the Celtics?

8:30 - Where do the Celtics rank in the Eastern Conference? What order is the top 3 right now? 

10:00 - Do the Celtics need some front court help? or as we confident in what they have now? 

13:30 - Is the buyout market the best spot for Danny Ainge to add a big man? 

16:00 - We give out our Thanksgiving-themed superlatives. Who’s the devourer of the drumstick? Stuffing the stats is...? Side dish superstar? 

30:00 - Who has been the biggest surprise player for the Celtics so far?

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.