MIAMI - Two months after Mali were denied a place in the Final of the FIBA Africa U18 Championship, Ibrahim Doumbia is moving on.
Although they arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, as one of the favourites and reached the Semi-Finals with a 5-0 mark, Doumbia and his teammates - the tallest team in the competition - returned home with a third-place finish and a ticket for next summer's FIBA U19 World Championship to be in staged in Cairo, Egypt.
Yet Doumbia, who turned 18 last week, feels the team could have performed better but also believes better days are yet to come for Mali basketball.
Talking to FIBA.com, the 2.00m forward admitted that they could have finished on the top step of the podium.
"But we will come back stronger, better, faster, and hungrier than ever before. The whole team is trying their best to bring back more wins for our beautiful country of Mali," he said.
A senior at Miami Country Day High-School, Doumbia - who is rated as one of the top college prospects - has committed to the 2017 class of the South Carolina University.
And the world of US collegiate basketball has started to take notice.
Doumbia said he made his decision based on the school's education system but admitted the dream of playing under head coach Frank Martin played a part.
"The school has the top business programme in the nation, so my decision was made a little easier. I believe that I will flourish and thrive in this programme both on the court and off. I'm looking forward to getting my business degree and playing for such a prominent basketball program."
Back in Kigali, Doumbia averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds, but it was Egypt and Angola who reached the Final with the latter lifting the trophy and being crowned Africa U18 champions.
"Playing with my national team helped me discover my strengths and weaknesses," Doumbia offered. "It also allowed me to play against tough competition, which in turn, made me better as a person and a player."
Over the past few years, Mali has provided fantastic players but it's New Orleans Pelicans rookie Cheick Diallo who is motivating the country's new generation of players.
"Seeing Cheick grow first-hand has been a great pleasure," Doumbia said. "He has worked very hard over the past few years in order to achieve what he has accomplished. With Cheick being in the NBA we finally have someone to look up to.
"The best way to discover hidden talent in Mali is through the annual Mali Hope Camp hosted by Tidiane Drame, who brings more than seven American coaches each year. There are a lot of basketball academies in Mali. The kids from Mali are really enjoying and loving the game of Basketball."