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Photo by Alex Smyth

Michael L’Africain talks about Space Jam and its influence on his game

FOLLOWING LAST WEEK’S profile of the women’s basketball team rookie Kellie Ring, the Fulcrum decided to offer a similar spotlight to a first-year on the men’s basketball team. Michael L’Africain, rookie point guard of the University of Ottawa men’s basketball team, has proven he can be a powerhouse on the court, scoring 14 points and adding five rebounds in the Dec. 2 game alone. As a regular scorer and assist to fourth-year guard Warren Ward, L’Africain has the potential to play professionally, something he dreams about doing.

The Fulcrum: When did you first start playing basketball?

L’Africain: I first started when I was [in] Grade 4.

Were you into any other sports at that point? What made you decide to focus on basketball? 

[I played] soccer mostly. I watched Space Jam one day and decided to start playing [basketball] outside, and I fell in love.

Was there anyone in particular that motivated or helped you challenge yourself?

Michael Jordan always motivated me as a role model with his accolades and hard work, but my dad, my high-school coach, and my school teammates motivated me the most. We were really competitive. I’m pretty self-motivated; I always want to do better.

Why did you choose to attend the U of O?  

I chose the University of Ottawa strictly on a basketball basis. I felt the team had a tight bond, competitive drive, good work ethic, eager coaches, and a good atmosphere with the whole Carleton rivalry potential. I also picked [the U of O] because there are some players on this team I have, and still can, really learn from.

What have you learned since coming here?

What I’ve already learned is too much to list, but the main things I’ve learned are that basketball in the [Canadian Interuniversity Sport] is a job and that learning how to act like a pro can maximize your play.

How do you feel about your performance on the court so far?

My individual play is just like our team’s play—better each week, but nowhere near where we or I want it to be. It’ll come though, believe that.

After you graduate, is professional basketball something that you want to pursue?

Yes. Playing pro is the only thing I want to pursue … I want to make it big time.

If you could do anything or be anything, what would that anything be?

A national champion, with as many rings as possible, and being at the top level I can get to hooping professionally.

—Katherine DeClerq