"I represent Mali because I'm from Mali," said Diallo, whose first name is pronounced ‘Shek.' "I like to play for my country.
"It's very, very important. It's great."
The 6-foot-9, 210-pounder, who attends Our Savior New American (N.Y.), has been exposed to the top levels of high school basketball on the circuit this summer. He participated in the Nike EYBL, the NBPA Top 100 Camp, the Nike Big Man Skills Academy and LeBron James Skills Academy and the Nike Peach Jam/EYBL Finals.
At the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., Diallo was named MVP of the elite event, though he credited his point guard there for helping him earn the honor.
"It was good. I played older people," Diallo said. "I played [against guys with] experience because . . . older people are better than me. I like to play them - it gives me experience.
"[If someone] is better than me, I want to defend him. I want to get better."
Despite all of his success, Diallo is still new to the game of basketball. He said soccer was his first sport and he did not begin playing hoops until 2010.
"My dad told me, ‘You're so tall, you don't want to play soccer. You want to go play basketball,'" Diallo said.
Diallo, who measured a 7-foot-3 wingspan at Nike's camp this summer, listed offensive rebounding and defense as his primary strengths on the court, and said he aimed to improve his free throw percentage and wanted to become more efficient around the rim.
The five-star prospect went on to talk about his recruitment a bit as well.
"I have many offers," said Diallo, who holds 20 total. "Kentucky, Syracuse . . . North Carolina is coming, but I don't know yet [if they have offered]."
UNC head coach Roy Williams was on-hand to watch Diallo each of the past two weeks – at the Peach Jam and then the Global Challenge.
Diallo noted that he had the opportunity to watch North Carolina play on TV this past season, as well as Kentucky and Syracuse.