The Journey of a Lifetime

Jon Surratt

Photo: Liz Flynn

From Africa to Maryland to a Quinnipiac basketball legacy, Abdulai Bundu has had one crazy ride.

Bundu is a senior forward on the Quinnipiac Bobcats men’s basketball team. He has been at Quinnipiac for all four seasons, and has had a remarkable career and legacy at the school.  

He did not originally grow up around basketball, and was not even born in the United States. Bundu was born in Sierra Leone, a country in southwest Africa, and grew up there for most of his childhood. He would eventually move to Maryland and meet his parents along the way.

“I was mind blown, baffled, that this is actually happening,” Bundu said. “Growing up especially from Sierra Leone, outside looking in, America was the place to be. To wake up the next morning, you are actually in America. I did not know my parents for the first seven to eight years in my life. To actually meet them, it was something crazy too.”

Bundu was introduced to basketball in seventh grade by his coach. However, he was originally the “waterboy”.

“I was a soccer player,” Bundu said. “Then in like eighth grade coach said just give it a shot. So I gave it shot. First thing I was taught was to make a layup.”

Bundu attended Largo High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland. At Largo, Bundu was a 2015 Capital Classic All Star and had a career high 54 points his senior season.

Then after high school, Bundu had to adapt to the college basketball routine. His coaches always pushed him to succeed, which helped coming to college.

“I was really thankful to have good coaches in high school,” Bundu said. “Adjusting was made a lot easier. I just had to adjust to the speed of the game and the different sizes of players. I was used to be being the biggest guy on the court most times. Now you got guys on the court like 6 foot 10 and up. Having to compete at that level with them and finding consistency and find that pace to fit in as a freshman.”

However, even with his high school coaches helping him adjust, Bundu had two other freshmen to help him on the journey as well. Now senior guards, Andrew and Aaron Robinson grew up and played high school basketball just 27 minutes away from Bundu.

“I think it made it a lot easier,” Bundu said. “Just knowing you have people from where you are from and understand the culture. I played against Andrew in Vegas and he played for Team Melo. Ironically, we were guarding each other that whole game. He came out the gates firing. He had about 16, I had a good 22 so I was fine with it.”

Bundu met Aaron and Andrew Robinson differently than most.

“I did not realize they were coming to Quinnipiac until I took my visit,” Bundu said. “It was toward the end of my visit and I am talking to the coach. I hear these two loud individuals in the hallway. We just met each other and bonded. Since then, roommates freshman year, sophomore year, junior year and now suitemates senior year.”

Now through four years, with coaching changes, player transfers and a “rollercoaster” ride at school, Bundu has amassed a legacy at Quinnipiac. Throughout his career he has totaled 686 points, 39 assists, 643 rebounds, 37 steals and 56 blocks. Bundu became the fourth player in Division I school history to amass 600 career points and rebounds.

“When the tweet went out saying I was 600 and 600, I was like wow,” Bundu said. “That was the last thing on my mind coming into the season. I am very blessed to have it.”

With stats aside, his favorite part about playing basketball at Quinnipiac are his teammates.

“I’m usually a quiet guy,” Bundu said. “When I am around them, I am relaxed and can be myself and just goof off.”

Now with Bundu being a senior, he has to show the ropes to the freshmen this year, just like he got shown his freshman year. He enjoys how much the freshmen get along and feels as if he is their mentor.

“It’s a lot easier to teach them the tradition,” Bundu said. “When we are not around, they know what to do. It makes our job easier. If they need help on a personal level, I’m willing to talk to them. If they are struggling basketball related, I’ve been there, so I understand how it all goes. Understanding that it’s okay to make mistakes, just learn and grow as a player, then by that time you’ll be the one teaching how everything goes.”

After Quinnipiac, Bundu hopes to play somewhere, but if all else fails he will always be around basketball. No matter what happens though, he will always keep a life motto.

“You’re already here,” Bundu said. “Might as well get the job done.”