Brad Underwood realizes that his success at Oklahoma State is going to be determined by the student-athletes he recruits to play for him. The first-year head coach kicked off his first recruiting class with the announcement Wednesday night of the first player to ever sign to play under his direction for the Cowboys.
Underwood signed versatile 6-8 forward Souleymane Diakite (pronounced: SOO-luh-MAIN DEE-uh-cot-EE) of Canterbury Academy (CIBA) in Spain to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
In addition to Diakite, also expected to sign letters with the Cowboys are South Miami (Fla.) High School teammates Zack Dawson (pictured above) and Latravian Glover.
Dawson, a 6-4, 180-pound point guard, committed to Oklahoma State in June. He had offers from Arizona, Louisville, Kansas State, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, Florida Gulf Coast and Florida International.
Glover, a 6-7, 215-pound wing, is Dawson's high school and summer league teammate. He has been lightly recruited because he was unable to play throughout the summer after suffering a knee injury. The OSU coaching staff reportedly fell in love with Glover while they were watching Dawson.
Both Dawson and Glover could sign their LOIs as early as Thursday.
Diakite (Mali, Africa) is considered one of the most versatile forwards in Spain thanks to his 7-foot-1 wing span and superior passing and rebounding ability. Listed at 6-8 and 230 pounds, Diakite has the ball-handling skills to play any position on the floor, including bringing the ball up at the point.
“First of all, he has a readymade body,” Underwood said in a release from the OSU Media Relations office. “He’s a very strong, athletic kid. His versatility is his biggest strength. He’s a guy who can play multiple positions. He’s actually played some point before at 6-8, 230 pounds. He’s got an uncanny ability to pass and sees the floor really well.”
Diakite helped CIBA place fourth in the Spanish National U16 Championships, where he led the team in scoring. He earned MVP honors at the Tenerife Tour, and was an All-Spanish League selection in 2016.
Diakite is originally from Mali, Africa, and plans to major in business at Oklahoma State.
“We’ve all been just fascinated with his ability to pass and how it fits into what we do from an offensive standpoint,” Underwood said. “Here’s a guy that can lead the break, and can someday be our leading rebounder as well. His versatility is a tremendous plus for us and we’re excited to have him here and get him involved in our program. He’s going to be a great fit for Cowboy basketball for the next four years.”
The Cowboys open the 2016-17 season and the Underwood era on Friday at Gallagher-Iba Arena when they host Campbell. Underwood boasts an 89-14 record, which ties him for the most wins in the first three seasons of a coaching career in college basketball history.