The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Senegal native smiles so much on the court – and even off of it – that sometimes it can be taken the wrong way.
However, Dia's mental approach has been different since he returned to South Kent – and it's also translated on the court.
``He's one of the most improved players on our team," South Kent coach Raphael Chillious said. "It was more of a confidence thing for Papa. He has a much better feel now. We all knew he was talented, but now he's finally understanding the work ethic and he has the intensity and focus."
``My game has gotten a lot better," Dia admitted. "When I got here a year and a half ago, I had no post moves. I wanted to stay out on the perimeter and now I can score inside and my shot has gotten much better."
Dia is versatile for his size. He's capable of knocking down shots from 3-point range and also can score with his quickness in the post.
Part of the problem when he arrived in the United States was his inability to communicate.
``I wouldn't speak English and didn't have a lot of friends," Dia said. "I was lonely. Now my English has gotten better and I have a lot of friends."
This coming from a kid who often had to wear sandals while playing basketball in his homeland.
``I have three brothers and three sisters (one sister is in Philadelphia)," Dia said. "We don't have much."
Dia had a list that included primarily mid-majors – including Manhattan and SMU – until recently.
``I just want to find someplace that's going to be a good fit for me," Dia said.