Mamadi Diakite has become accustomed to winning. He lifted Dyke (Va.) Blue Ridge to an independent school state championship this past season, and over the weekend he played a key role for Team Loaded VA as they triumphed in Greensboro.
After drawing widespread acclaim during the high school year, however, Diakite’s travel season opened inauspiciously. He toured with Team Takeover on the EYBL circuit but never carved out a niche for himself, as he wasn’t able to practice with the team often and ultimately did not establish himself the way he’d anticipated.
Enter Team Loaded. Diakite changed teams and combined with another fast-rising big man, Javin DeLaurier, to form one of the country’s most formidable frontcourt duos.
”I played a tournament with them and I liked my teammates,” Diakite said, “so I decided to play with them. If I like a team, I like a team.”
Diakite’s prime asset remains exceptional run/jump athleticism. He’ll be a combine darling down the road because of his no-step vertical leap, which enables him to literally catch shots rather than merely block them. He’s also a terror in transition, a contributor on the offensive glass and is at least somewhat skilled from the high post — particularly as a passer.
He’ll need to get stronger, improve his free throw shooting and ideally catch the ball more cleanly than he does now. Still, his contributions on both ends of the court have drawn multiple major offers.
”Louisville is trying to get me to make an official visit to campus,” Diakite said. “I don’t know yet, I have to talk to my parents about it all and figure out what to do next.”
His timeline may be more advanced than most. Diakite demurred when asked if he might be ready to decide this summer, but many believe that the Cavaliers stand as the team to beat.
Some also wondered if Jay Huff’s recent commitment would impact UVa’s standing, but although two top-100 2016 big men already are headed to Charlottesville — Huff and Sacha Killeya-Jones — Diakite isn’t concerned about any diminishing opportunity.
”Tony Bennett told me about (Huff’s commitment),” Diakite said. “It doesn’t affect me at all. I would like to play some on the perimeter, anyway, because I’m not a five, I’m a stretch four.”
Diakite has a clear understanding of how the Wahoos would employ his services.
”Coach Bennett wants me to play inside and out,” he said. “Pick and pop, pick and roll sometimes, that’s the way he wants me to play. They think I would be a great shotblocker and a great defender.”
As for the ultimate winner, Diakite and his inner circle — his parents, both medical professionals, arrived in the United States early this year — will make a group decision in his best interest.
”It’s between my dad, my mom and my guardian,” he said. “I’m involved with it, too, of course, but we are all thinking about it as a family.”
Diakite is Scout’s No. 43 overall prospect and No. 9 power forward.