ITV talks with Barton Coach Ryan Woods about Diakite's progress
The Barton County Cougars are off to a 16-2 start this season and ranked #9 in the latest NJCAA poll. And 6'10 University of Louisville signee Nouha Diakite is a big reason for the Cougars success this season.
Diakite is averaging 11.2 ppg and 6.6 rpg this season and according to Barton County Head Coach Ryan Woods Diakite is playing extremely well this season.
Diakite, who came to the United States last year and played as a reserve at Barton during the 2001-02, averaged 4.5ppg and 5 rpg as a freshman reserve for the Cougars.
Then it happened.
Diakite exploded at the Jerry Mullin Shootout this summer and college coaches took notice of Diakite's shot blocking and rebounding ability, his incredible athleticism and vast potential. Big time programs like Cincinnati, Alabama and others heavily pursued Diakite but the coveted power forward prospect ended his recruitment early and committed to Louisville and Rick Pitino in July.
Inside theVille called to check on Diakite's progress and the report received was good!
So what's the biggest difference between Diakite play last season to this one?
"He just worked his butt off during the off season. His confidence is much higher and he has tremendous commitment to get better." Woods explained.
"Nouha came here last year and had to adjust to the American game and lost some of his offensive confidence. But this season he's knocking down the 10 footer and dunking it in traffic," Barton SID Mike Marzolf explained.
"He's playing really well this season." Woods said.
"He had some problems with his knees around Christmas time that slowed him down a bit and he went back to France over the holiday and is doing better," Woods said.
With all the improvement, what does Diakite still need to improve?
"He needs to get stronger to play at Louisville" Woods said. He has trouble holding position down low...but going against Rob [UC signee Robert Whaley] each day in practice makes him better" explained Woods.
According to Woods, "Frenchy shoots the ball pretty consistently to 17-18 feet."
Playing the power forward spot this season, Diakite often plays the high post while Whaley plays down on the block. According to Marzolf, teams have begun to play a lot more 2-3 zone defense and really pack it in against both Whaley and Diakite trying to shut them down.
The zone defenses that Barton faces has forced Diakite to become a "good passer from the high post" according to Woods.
While a good passer, Diakite has struggled somewhat with his ball handling and according to Marzolf, "most of his turnovers this season come when he's handling the ball."
Diakite is also doing well in school and attends class everyday, according to Woods. "All the teachers like him and want to see him succeed because he works extremely hard," Woods said.
Soon, "Frenchy" will bring his work ethic, athleticism and potential to Louisville where he'll team up with a coach known for developing kids with similar characteristics.
Diakite will be a solid addition for the Cards next season.
According to Coach Woods, Pitino was very interested last fall in 6'3 Justin Rose, a freshman guard for Barton County C.C. Rose, according to Woods, is a "great shooter and ball handler who can play the 1,2, or 3 spots."
Pitino has also shown interest in 6'7 freshman forward Rodney Epperson. According to Woods, Epperson is a "great talent. He's our leading three point shooter and is a Tracy McGrady type." Woods then clarified, "I don't mean he's as good but that's how he plays."
"Schools are just starting to call on him. He will get a lot of D1 looks." Marzolf said about Epperson's recruitment.