Christ Koumadje has a name that’s not easily pronounced nor easily forgotten. At a daunting 7-foot-4, Koumadje is the tallest athlete in Florida State’s history, and that’s probably the least interesting fact about the sophomore basketball breakout.
Koumadje grew up in N’djamena, the capital of Chad, Africa. With a mom at 6-2 and an uncle at 7-3, Koumadje revealed that his extraordinary height does, in fact, run in the family.
“N’djamena is just a normal African city. A lot going on, neighborhoods, kids playing soccer,” Koumadje said. “I still get to keep in touch with my friends and family through Facebook and WhatsApp.”
When he was just 16 years old, Koumadje left N’djamena to attend school in Senegal. Little did he know that this decision would change his life.
Upon his arrival in Senegal, Koumadje was encouraged to take up basketball.
At that point, Koumadje had very little basketball experience. He instead played a great deal of soccer growing up.
Within just one year, Koumadje had moved from Chad, to Senegal, and from Senegal to the United States.
“The biggest challenge at first was the language and my accent,” said Koumadje. “I feel like sometimes I think I’m saying a word right, but to this day people will still ask me what I mean.”
Soon after his basketball career in the United States began at Montverde Academy in Orlando, Koumadje was noticed for his burgeoning basketball skills.
Seemingly in the blink of an eye, he had scholarship offers from Florida State, Connecticut, Louisville, Tennessee, UCLA.
The offer that caught his eye came from Florida State and head coach Leonard Hamilton.
“I liked Coach ‘Ham’ a lot, and also the tradition of their 7-footers,” said Koumadje. “With the success of Boris Bojanovsky and Michael Ojo, I can’t think of any other school that had that many successful 7-footers playing.”
Koumadje couldn’t have made a better decision for his basketball career, because although only a sophomore, he has improved his game immensely. In addition, he gained 30 pounds in his first two years in Tallahassee.
Koumadje says it’s his teammates and the Seminole coaching staff that push him to become a better player.
“Playing at Florida State always has me going against really good players,” said Koumadje. “It also helps to practice with other 7-footers, like Ojo, and he teaches me how to use my height.”
Koumadje says he couldn’t have asked for a better experience than his time spent at Florida State so far. His admiration and appreciation for his teammates and coaches is mutual.
Koumadje enjoyed a standout sophomore season as he helped lead the Seminoles to 26 wins, a second-place finish in the ACC and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. He played in all 35 games, averaged a career-high 10.1 minutes played, averaged 4.4 points and blocked 40 shots as a sophomore.
“I’m excited for the next few years with Christ,” said guard CJ Walker. “His energy and passion for the game is something that gives all of our teammates energy. Along with Christ and all of the returning players, I am looking forward to the future for our team.”
“The potential for Christ to keep improving is without limits,” said Ojo. “He is going to keep working with Coach Ham and the assistant coaches to keep improving. I know that’s his personality. He wants to keep working to improve. He works hard to continuously improve because that’s what he has made up his mind to do.”
Koumadje was presented with two awards as the Seminoles’ honors banquet at the end of the season by the Florida State coaching staff. He earned the award as the Seminoles’ top field-goal percentage shooter and was presented with the Sixth Man Award along with the members of the “Boom Squad” group of rotation players.
“’Big Christ’ is one of the nicest, but most highly competitive young men I have ever coached,” said associate head coach Stan Jones. “In fact, he has a bit of a mean streak when things get tough in the heat of a game. But you would never know that if you just see him on campus and spend time with him off the court. He has a tremendous sense of humor and is a great teammate. Christ really and truly wants to develop into an elite big man and as he gains more confidence through playing experiences, I think his future is unlimited as a basketball player.”
Koumadje is even more excited for what lies ahead.
“The future for our team is very bright,” said Koumadje. “The players joining our team are all going to contribute and keep our talent level among the best in college basketball. For me, I just want to work with my teammates to get better and help our team win games. We are all working to get better every day and our coaches are pushing us to be the best we can be. Next season has already started for me and my teammates.”
By Noelle Powell
Florida State Sports Information