The long, lanky basketball prospect showed all-around skills last year, but he was just learning what his body was capable of doing. After leading Normal University High School to a runner-up finish in the Class 2A Illinois State championship as a sophomore, his confidence began to grow.
With college coaches encouraging more assertiveness, Keita Bates-Diop began to transform himself into a new level of ability. He has now enjoyed a spring and summer full of success. He is still humble, but his confidence is soaring.
"Over the past couple months, I've been working on being more aggressive, and I've accomplished that a little bit. I've been scoring points and rebounding."
He certainly has. One might say he became a star for the 16U Illinois Wolves AAU team, leading them in scoring and attracting college coaches to their games. With many new schools making contact, and some like Illinois and Michigan putting on a full court press, he feels really good about himself.
His Illinois Wolves team won the GBRA National Championship in their 16 and under age group in Fort Wayne, the last tourney on the AAU schedule. Bates-Diop summarizes their successful summer.
"After an okay spring, the Wolves did really well. We won two championships this summer. In Milwaukee last week, we won our pool but lost in the first round of the tournament. We played some really good teams."
Michigan appears to want him badly. Head coach John Beilein was front and center for all his games last weekend. Bates-Diop was asked if the Wolverines were pushing for an early commitment from him.
"Yeah, but I really don't know what I want to do yet."
Purdue, Louisville and all the other schools that have offered him scholarships are involved as well. Is Illinois still in the race for his services?
"Yeah. I like their coaches a lot. They're fun to be around and fun to talk to."
He thinks highly of head coach John Groce, and assistant Jamall Walker has made a strong impression as well.
"I also talk with Coach Walker. He's good and fun to talk to."
Groce has brought an attacking style of play to the Illini basketball program. Bates-Diop feels he would fit in well with that style.
"They're very aggressive. They push the ball, they shoot a lot and get shots up quick. I like that kind of system."
It will be tough to improve on last winter's results, but Bates-Diop is optimistic about his upcoming high school season.
"I played with my high school team in June. We went to a lot of camps. Last year was a good year for us. I think the upcoming season will be good for us too."