TAVARES, Florida (WTSP/CNN) — In the little Lake County town of Tavares resides the tallest high school basketball player in the country.
Sixteen-year-old Elhadji Tacko Fall is anything but a uniform student at Liberty Christian Preparatory School. The 7-foot-5 junior strolls the halls a yard above his fellow schoolmates.
The iPad he totes from classroom to classroom looks like an iPhone in his nearly foot long hands.
Affectionately known at school as “Taco,” his fellow students have to look up to smile hello, while looking out for his size 22 shoe. The same shoe size as Shaquille O’Neal.
But Fall has four inches on the legendary center.
A native of Dakar, Senegal, Fall came to the United States to learn the game of basketball, while trying to take advantage of his gifted traits. He just started playing the game six months before he came to the United States in 2012.
He’s since been embraced by the Lions at Liberty Christian Prep, living with another family as a part of an international host program.
“I haven’t been playing basketball that long,” said Fall. “When I first got here it was very fast, now it is just a game.”
A game he’s looking to excel at, like he does in the classroom.
While the school doesn’t have a desk big enough to fit Fall, he’s managed just fine, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and excelling at chemistry and math.
He also speaks four languages.
Asked if he’d like to keep playing basketball, Fall said, “Yes. Hopefully yeah. If I don’t, I want to be a biochemist.”
“I could do better if I really applied myself,” said Fall. “The academics are much more difficult in Senegal.”
But difficulty is a situation Fall is familiar with during his time away his native country, and his goal is a familiar one in the U.S.
“I hopefully will be able to make it one day playing basketball and earn enough money to take care of my mother and brother to have a stable environment,” said Fall.
Fall is still trying to stabilize his own situation on the court, just a year-and-a-half in to learning the game.
“I’m much better than where I started and I’m hearing from a lot of division one colleges,” said Fall.
While the goal is to join the ranks of Yao Ming and Manute Bol as seven foot immigrants to capture NBA glory, Fall admits he’d be perfectly happy as a biochemist too.
Already taller than any player in the league, the sky appears to be the limit for this young man, who can nearly touch the clouds.