When you’re a 7-foot 17-year-old, anonymity is elusive.
“Baye Fall is just a random kid,” remarks Baye Fall in the third person. “He’s playing basketball here in the United States, and that’s kind of cool.”
Fall is that 7-foot 17-year-old, and he’s one of the best high school basketball players in the country, ranked 3rd in the nation according to ESPN for the class of 2023.
But it’s not easy being Baye.
“It’s real hard, I’m telling you,” says Fall. “People just come up and [what they say] can be hurtful sometimes, like they’re mocking you or something.”
He feels like a misfit at the grocery store, but on the basketball court he’s a maestro.
“He’s a pro,” says his new head coach Ray Valdez. “I’ve talked to a lot of NBA scouts about this, they compare him to Kevin Garnett because his motor is so high, he’s so long, kind of lean, but really wiry strong.”
Valdez is the head basketball coach at the newly-formed Denver Prep Academy.
“We’re trying to give kids their lives back but also give them some straight lines and some roads to chase their dreams within their sports philosophies,” says Valdez.
Last season Fall played for Lutheran High School and won a state championship.
“Lutheran helped me a lot,” says Fall. “The coaches and the environment over there it helped me a lot to get better as a person. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them.”
The decision to leave Lutheran was a difficult one. Fall says he spent time talking things through with his family, as well as taking time alone to reflect and meditate.
“If i say I want to make it to the next level, I have to go to better competition and play against the best in the nation,” says Fall.
He’s out seeking competition and lifting up Colorado basketball in the process.
“Colorado basketball is kind of underrated, so why not just try to take it up there?” says Fall. “Like my dad says, 'write your own story.' I just created my own path. I started here I’m going to finish it here.”
“He’s such a special kid in so many ways,” says Valdez. “He’s kind of a modern-era kid with some old-school mentality.”
Baye marches to the beat of his own drum, and that rhythm fits in harmoniously at DPA.
“We really just want to make sure that these kids know it’s OK to be different,” says Valdez. “It’s OK to be outside the box; it’s OK to be fanatical.”
Someday, Fall would like to play in the NBA, perhaps become one of the greatest basketball players ever. He also wants to study architecture, like his father.
But most importantly, he’s hoping to live life as a good person.
“[I’d like to] be a good person for the people, help out people, be a good person for the community,” says Fall. “Do big things for people who can’t do something for themselves.”
“He’s probably the most inspiring player I’ve coached so far,” says Valdez.
Fall and his Denver Prep teammates begin play on a national circuit in the autumn of 2021.