COLLINGWOOD has landed one of the biggest recruiting shocks in recent memory, signing a Senegalese basketballer who has never played a game of football and is currently in his home country.
Bassirou Faye, 18, has committed to the Pies on an International Rookie Scholarship and will endeavour to return to Australia in coming weeks.
The athletic 202cm ruck prospect impressed in summer trials with NAB League club Oakleigh Chargers before being forced to return to Senegal due to visa constraints.
Faye originally arrived in Australia in the hope of chasing a basketball career before switching his focus to football late last year with the help of former Richmond and Hawthorn forward Tyrone Vickery.
Through a close link with Chargers regional manager Jy Bond, Vickery put Faye through a two-month training program across January-February before joining the club for several sessions.
Training alongside Collingwood father-son-in-waiting and potential 2021 No.1 pick Nick Daicos, Faye impressed Pies recruiters who acted swiftly to secure his signature.
Faye is expected to be back in the country inside a month where he will be required to complete a two-week quarantine block.
He is also expected to be granted AFL approval to play the 2021 NAB League season for the Chargers and replicate Geelong Category B rookie Paul Tsapatolis who is starting the year with the Western Jets.
The International Rookie Scholarship player sits outside the club's maximum list of 44 players and acts in a similar manner to an Academy program.
For Faye to be eligible for AFL selection he would need to be upgraded to the AFL list at the end of the year or future years in the official player movement window.
The Pies also signed Mason Cox through the International Rookie system in May 2014 before he debuted for the club on Anzac Day 2016.
The most recent example at a club was Papua New Guinean Hewago Paul Oea who was upgraded to the Suns' category B rookie list last November as an international scholarship holder.
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Wearing goggles – reminiscent of NBA champion Horace Grant – Faye tested at the NAB League testing day in early March alongside 2021 draft prospects.
He ran a sub-three-second 20m sprint and recorded an 84cm running vertical jump after testers were forced to increase the height limit to accommodate his jump.
The Pies hold a strong link to the Chargers with eight current players previously calling Oakleigh home – Josh Daicos, Jordan De Goey, Isaac Quaynor, Trent Bianco, Will Kelly, Reef McInnes, Darcy Moore and Finlay Macrae who will debut against West Coast on Friday night.