Mamadi Diakite: Junior Primer

There’s a lot of uncertainty and disagreement over Mamadi Diakite. Not whether he’s good — because anyone can see that — but how good, and when to expect him to fully ripen as a player.

How he got here

Tucked away in the mountains of Virginia at Dyke (Va.) Blue Ridge, Mamadi Diakite quietly emerged during the 2014 spring. A 6-9, 185-pound native of Guinea, he emigrated to the United States last January to pursue his basketball dreams while his parents remained behind with the plan to come over later.

Diakite initially struck me as a lower high-major who had legitimate power forward height and length but spindly legs, just okay quickness and very little discernable ball skill.

Diakite’s profile could rise considerably over the next six months

But following a summer touring with the Boo Williams program and attending various team events, he elevated himself into a new category. At the South Central Challenge this past fall, Diakite looked like the kind of prospect who could explode into the national top 30 by the end of his rising senior summer.

He’s had some less dominant scoring performances this season when matched with equivalent prospects and will need to fully establish himself on the national circuit, but suffice it to say his overall trajectory appears to be very steep.

His recruitment always has outpaced his attention. Virginia had the leg up and offered early, while others such as Texas A&M, Maryland, Kentucky, Florida and USC also have been in contact. According to a profile that ran in The Roanoke Times in the fall, he’s close to former Maryland signee Hassan Fofana and relying on his expertise at least in part to manage his recruitment, at least until his parents can become fully acquainted with the process.

To 2015. …

Diakite isn’t an established guy who needs to show off new wrinkles; a lot of coaches and scouts still don’t really know him. He’s our No. 99 junior at this point, a number that frankly may be low. But he has to prove it on the national circuit against his peers, no matter how much an undiscovered gem I believe he may be.

He won’t need to do anything out of the ordinary to win acclaim for his athleticism. Diakite boasts elite, explosive leaping ability and quickness. He’s capable of rebounding well outside his area and bursting right back up to finish with a slam.

He’s also a talented shotblocker and potentially devastating defender at both forward positions thanks to his lateral quickness and length.

Meanwhile, Diakite looks far more comfortable now facing the basket. He wields a smooth jumper that’s inconsistent but looks capable from 15-17 feet, and potentially all the way out to the three-point line. He also scraps and competes ferociously despite lacking strength.

He’ll need to prove he has good hands. We’ve noted at times that he drops some balls he should have caught cleanly, and of course his ability as a traffic finisher will be linked closely to his sure-handedness. Diakite also must not rely too heavily on jump shots, because in the post his spin moves and short turnarounds could become highly effective if he chooses to concentrate on them.

To be clear, he has far more upside than downside at that No. 99 ranking. With length and athleticism like his, he’s far more likely to continue rising than he is to fall.

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