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Entering senior season at UO, N’Faly Dante has the chance of a lifetime

The Oregon center could be playing in the NBA after some humble beginnings.

Pac-12 Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Peanut Butter. It’s great, and most people are fans. Whether as a spread, a dip, or even a side dish, peanut butter is a fan favorite.

For Oregon Center N’Faly Dante, however, it was a way of life during his childhood in Bamako, Mali. Dante’s mother made it from scratch every day in order to provide for her family, and when Dante was able to attend his first basketball camp in Mali, she wouldn’t hear of any giving up.

Dante confessed that after the third day he was sore and tired, and told his mother he didn’t know if he wanted to continue. His mother, very succinctly, informed him that he had only just started and to get his (rear end) back out there.

Her motivational tool worked, and Dante worked his way to the United States through basketball. While in the States, Dante marveled at the ease of which peanut butter was readily available. Having witnessed his mother’s white-knuckled work, he would certainly never take a single jar for granted.

BASKETBALL: JUNE 01 Pangos All-American Camp Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coming out of high school, Dante was an ESPN five-star recruit ranked 17th in their class, and plenty of universities had come knocking. This was the kind of opportunity his mother had been working to help give him, and why she hadn’t let him quit.

Dante ended up becoming a Duck, and though he had his moments through his first couple seasons, they were also riddled with injuries and inconsistencies.

Finally, in his junior year last season, Dante played through a full season, appearing in 32 games with 27 starts. He averaged 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, shooting a Pac-12-leading 67.5 percent from the field. Dante improved his offensive post work and became a force on the defensive end with his blocking and shot altering.

With his senior season about to begin, Dante has an opportunity now to give back to his mother for all of her hard work. Not only can he become a college graduate, but he has a chance of being drafted into the NBA if he plays well enough.

Post scoring isn’t as valued as it once was, but rebounding and shot blocking are always welcome, and as long as he can stay healthy and continue to improve, the 7-foot Dante could become a pro, allowing him to provide for his mother financially the way she provided for him as a child.

Let’s all raise a jar of peanut butter and hope he can get it done.