San Antonio – When he closes his eyes, Moses Sundufu can still see the burning buildings and the helpless people roaming the Sierra Leone streets.

But that’s about all the St. Mary’s guard has allowed himself to remember of his homeland’s civil war.

Born right around the time the diamond-fueled war began back in 1991, Sundufu fled Sierra Leone with his brother, Michael, when he was just 6 years old. They quickly left for Guinea, a country in West Africa, before moving on with their aunt to Gambia.

By the time he was 9, they fled as refugees to the United States, where they rejoined their mother in Hopkins, Minn.

“We were very fortunate to get away,” says Sundufu, whose Rattlers host Texas A&M International at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Bill Greehey Arena. “Even staying there two or three more days than we did, we’d have been stuck. It would have been, really, really bad.”

Once in the U.S., he found himself practically in an entirely different world.

“I had never really spoken English before,” said Sundufu, who spoke Krio, the native language of Sierra Leone. “But I made friends, was put in an ESL (English as a second language) class and picked it up really quick.”

Almost by chance, Sundufu then went on to pick up the game of basketball. More familiar with soccer, Sundufu went to the park to play a pickup game with a friend one afternoon. By the sixth grade, he was playing competitively for his school.

“Ever since then, I’ve been playing, playing, playing,” said Sundufu, who led his high school team at Hopkins High to the state championship as a senior.

Having transferred to St. Mary’s this year with the reputation as a lockdown defender, Sundufu has also emerged as one of the Rattlers’ premier 3-point threats. He leads the team in percentage, shooting 45.5 percent with 25 makes from beyond the arc while averaging 9.2 points per game.

Teaming up with fellow newcomer Daryell Taylor, Sundufu’s former junior-college teammate at San Jacinto, Sundufu has helped provide the Rattlers with a 3-point-shooting duo they haven’t had in years.

“It’s pretty crazy how things turn out,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t make it out. They didn’t have the opportunity I had. I thank God and try to make the best out of it.”

Because when he closes his eyes, he sees what could have been.

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