Hamady Ndiaye has been on a worldwide quest to become a better basketball player.
Since being waived by the Kings before the 2012-13 regular season, Ndiaye has played in China and Africa.
That's led him back to Sacramento, where he hopes to do enough to earn a spot on the Kings' roster after receiving a training camp invitation from the team's new coaching staff.
The Kings have 14 guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, one below the league maximum.
But with Carl Landry out three to four months after surgery to repair a torn left hip flexor, the team has 13 players that figure to be ready for opening night on Oct. 30.
"I'm not sure what (general manager) Pete D'Alessandro's plan for that last spot is right now, but I think 'H,' as we call him, has done a lot to showcase his abilities as to why he should be on this team," said Kings coach Michael Malone.
Ndiaye (7 feet, 235 pounds) was a second-round draft pick (56th overall) by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 out of Rutgers. His rights were traded to the Washington Wizards not long after, and he appeared in 19 games in two seasons with the Wizards.
After not making the Kings' roster last season, Ndiaye played for the Tianjin RongGang of the Chinese Basketball Association. He led the team with 3.9 blocks per game.
From there, Ndiaye played for Senegal in the African Cup, winning bronze and a spot in the World Cup next year.
"My goal coming into this season is to definitely show I'm an NBA big, however that happens," Ndiaye said. "I kind of realized after everywhere that I've played, I've played well and everyone had kind of the same vision of playing in the NBA. That's always been my goal. Going overseas was a plan for me to get better."
Ndiaye offers length and shot-blocking ability, and the Kings could use both while adding depth behind DeMarcus Cousins.
With Landry out and the Kings down a post player, it increases the odds, which were slim to start training camp, of the Kings holding on to Ndiaye.
"You need at least five bigs in the NBA in your rotation because, knock on wood, somebody else gets hurt and you're down to three guys," Malone said. " 'H' has done great."
The Kings don't have the option of waiving Ndiaye and placing him on their NBA Development League team in Reno to call up during the season. Ndiaye was selected in the D-League expansion draft by the Delaware 87ers and they hold his D-League rights.
Ndiaye hasn't played much in the preseason (2.5 minutes per game), but he's shown improvement in his game after international play.
"This is my 13th year in the NBA and Hamady Ndiaye is an NBA big man," Malone said. "That guy comes to work every day, has (a) tremendous motor, he runs the floor, he defends. Defensively, he has a great voice and a presence. He can block shots, and he's fairly skilled. He can shoot the ball, which people don't realize."
Kings forward Jason Thompson has known Ndiaye for some time. Ndiaye played AAU basketball with Thompson's younger brother, Ryan.
"I've seen him grow literally and maturity-wise, learning the basketball IQ and developing a jump shot," Thompson said. "When (I saw) him as a young guy, he was raw, but now he's developing into a guy who can score, and obviously for his energy defensively with blocks and things like that."
Ndiaye said this training camp has been "more fun" because of the competition and the veterans telling him how he's improved as a player.
"Everything I did got me to improve so much and gave me so much confidence in my own game offensively and defensively," Ndiaye said. "Now I think it's kind of time to take that next step, hopefully with this team, and we'll see how it goes."
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
In the Kings' game tonight against Phoenix:
Full focus: Coach Michael Malone thought the Kings had too many lapses in execution with a big lead on Monday. The Kings can't afford to be lax while learning a new system.
Consistent Cousins: DeMarcus Cousins has put up good numbers in the last two games, but more will be demanded of him defensively.
More minutes: Greivis Vasquez played 11 minutes in his first game after offseason ankle surgery. Expect him to play more to prepare for the regular season.
Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.