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Jimmy Dolan is a college basketball coach who wants a big promotion. To get it, he needs to make a dramatic find. He ends up deep in Africa, hoping to recruit Saleh, a huge basketball prodigy Jimmy glimpsed in a home movie. But Saleh is the chief's son and has responsibilities at home, since the tribe's land is threatened by a mining company with its own hotshot basketball team. Written by
College coaches are known for going to great lengths to woo their recruits. They meet the family, the athlete, and try to present themselves as being just like them, with similar views and values. They kiss up to the parents while singing the praises of the fine institution which pays them. In Jimmy Dolan's (Kevin Bacon) case, his limits are tested when he finds a star player, Saleh (Charles Gitonga Maina) in a documentary video of an African school sponsored by an American. Once he sees Saleh, it's off to Kenya.
In Kenya, Dolan meets with the predictable culture shock and skepticism/hostility from the locals, who wonder why a white guy from America would travel all the way to their land. He "befriends" the local nun/missionary, Sister Susan (Yolanda Vasquez), who advises him of the futility of trying to recruit the firstborn son of the tribe leader, who is duty-bound to his people. Enter an evil mining-company owner from a neighboring tribe who is trying to steal the Winabe tribe's lane, however, and the next thing we know, Dolan has joined the Winabe tribe (a swipe at American coaches who no doubt have bonded with their recruits in similar ways), and is their player-coach for the big game, a game where the Winabe land and Saleh's promise to play at St. Joe's if they win are on the line.
Bacon captures Dolan's essence very well, as an unsympathetic character placed into a very sympathetic situation. The movie is his coming-of-age tale, as we watch him mature from self-centered assistant coach to full-fledged mentor.
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