Dia Focusing on Task

Papa Dia has been a guy teetering between the mid-major and high-major level since arriving from Senegal more than a year ago. Now it appears as though the skilled 6-foot-9 forward has finally found himself - on and off the court.

Papa Dia's talent has never been in question. It's the South Kent senior forward's work ethic that has always been what has concerned high-major college coaches.

Until now.

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.

Now Louisville, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Maryland have expressed interest – along with Clemson, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Seton Hall.

``I just want to find someplace that's going to be a good fit for me," Dia said.


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