Incredible Journey Leads M'Bala to BC
Growing up in soccer-rich Europe, Borgia M'bala probably never envisioned becoming a basketball player or coming to a small college in Virginia.
January 26, 2011
By Johnathan Greene
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. — Growing up in soccer-rich Europe, Borgia M'bala probably never envisioned becoming a basketball player or coming to a small college in Virginia.
Borgia M'bala is a junior on the BC Rams Basketball team who came to BC from his home in Paris, France.
Yet, that is exactly what happened to the Bluefield College junior from Paris, France.
"I actually played soccer from about 7 to age 10," M'bala said. "Then, I moved to a big population city and I didn't know where to find a soccer club. Behind my house, there was a basketball court and that's all they did was play basketball. So I tried when I was 11. That's when I started playing."
From there, his journey has taken him from Paris to Gainesville, Fla., to Bluefield College. It was not an easy journey at first.
"It was hard," M'bala said of adjusting to the United States. "My first year was really hard. I nearly went back to Paris because I felt uncomfortable. I couldn't say anything I wanted to.
"I had so many things in my mind, but I couldn't say anything because of the language barrier. I took me about two years to be almost fluent in English. And now, I think I'm doing good."
Good might be an understatement for player who first picked up a basketball nearly 10 years ago.
The 6-foot-3 guard is averaging 12.4 points per game. Not bad for a kid who had few offers coming out of high school.
"Coming out of high school, I didn't have a lot of options," M'bala said. "I had a few junior colleges looking at me, but I wanted to go to a four-year college and get a degree.
"I came for a visit and I really liked it. I liked the team, the atmosphere and the school even though it was small. I thought it was a good place for me."
It was a place his family was glad to see him go.
"I've always been in small schools because my parents wanted the best for me," M'bala said. "I have two sisters and they always told my parents they wanted me to go to a school that would benefit me and help with my career later.
"I've been to two Christian schools in France and the high school in Florida I went to was also a Christian school. I'm use to small environments and schools."
Even though M'bala was not recruited by current head coach Richard Morgan. Morgan is happy to have him.
"He was recruited by coach (Jason) Gillespie," said Morgan, who replaced Jason Gillespie two years ago. "Coach 'G' had him here and he was already here when I got here. What a fantastic piece to the puzzle to have in your program. He's played well for us this year.
"He's been a game-leading scorer at times. He's a great guy to coach. I can get on him and he'll turn it up another notch. He's been a delight."
With so few years of actual playing time, Morgan said M'bala seems to improve each day for the Rams.
"He gets better and better every day," Morgan said. "He's one of those guys where the more practice he can get, the better he's going to be. I'm looking forward to next year where he's going to be the go-to guy and seeing how he handles the role."
The man currently in that role, Rob Wright, has become great friends with M'bala.
"When I first met (M'bala) I thought he was kind of cocky," Wright said. "But once you get to know him, he just does that for laughs. I've grown to like him a lot. He became a good friend of mine.
"He's a good player. An awesome shooter, better than I've ever will be. I just want him to stay focused and take his senior year more serious than I did this year."
While the start of his next chapter in life is still over a year away, time has not stopped M'bala from looking to the future. The junior is currently on track to graduate next spring with a major in business, along with a minor in criminal justice.
"Like every basketball player, I really want to keep on going with basketball," M'bala said. "Hopefully, overseas. If not, I have a back-up plan with school. That's why I'm trying to get a degree from here. Hopefully, I'll find a job related to my major."
His amazing journey may not have the next destination picked just yet, but the sky is the limit for M'bala. On the court and off.