Hoops Recruiting: Diarra Is Big-Time Talent

Mamadou Diarra has only been in the United States for 15 months but it didn't take that long for certain people – especially college coaches – to take notice of the 6-foot-11, 230-pound standout from Stoneridge Preparatory School in California. Diarra answered some questions that we emailed to him last week and we also visited with Stoneridge adminstrator Mike Mahoney about Diarra's recruitment.

The question most Oklahoma State basketball fans want to know is if Diarra will be making an official visit – along with James Anderson, Jai Lucas, Tracy Smith and Nick Sidorakis – the weekend of Oct. 20-22? Diarra was noncommital in his answer to that question, but Mahoney gave us an idea (without answering the question).

"We do not have any visits scheduled right now and we won't make any decisions until (Stoneridge head basketball coach) Babacar (Sy) gets back (from being out of the United States) on Oct. 7," Mahoney said today. "I will say that a visit has been discussed with Oklahoma State."

Diarra began playing basketball just four years ago in his native Mali (a country in West Africa), and his family then moved to France. "A lot of kids who are good in athletics have a hard time getting out of Africa, and if a member of their family is working for a company that allows them to move to France or another European country they often do that. That was the case with Mamadou's family," said Mahoney.

Diarra then made his way to the United States a year ago when head coach Babacar Sy spotted him playing in France. It didn't take long for Sy to convince Diarra that his best chance to develop his game was in the United States.

"He's made a lot of improvement in the past 15 months," Mahoney said. "He has NBA three-point range, and he's slightly under seven foot right now. He runs the floor real well, he can hit the three, and he can post up inside. His best position is the four, and I think that's where he'll play in college."

Diarra knew little English when he moved to the U.S. last year but is quickly picking it up. "He's worked diligently at it. His idea of going to bed at night is reading the dictionary," Mahoney said.

In addition to learning English, Diarra also has had to begin preparing to take the SAT, which he will do next month. "He'll continue to take it until he gets the score he's happy with," Mahoney said.

Oklahoma State head coach Sean Sutton and assistant Kyle Keller made the trip to California for an in-home visit with Diarra last week. He wasn't the only head coach making the trip to Stoneridge. He had sevreal other in-home visits, including those from Auburn and USC. Diarra did take an unofficial visit to USC last weekend, and watched the Trojan football team defeat Nebraska.

Mahoney said that he does not expect Diarra to sign during the early signing period in November. "There's no rush to commit anywhere," he said. "I think it's healthy for a kid to take one or two visits before the season starts as a reward for their hard work and effort they put in over the summer, and then take the rest of their visits after the season."

That means that even if Diarra joins Anderson, Lucas, Smith and Sidorakis in Stillwater for OSU's homecoming it appears that he may not be making a decision until next spring.

What follows are Diarra's answers to the questions we emailed to him last week.

Go Pokes: How did you end up at Stoneridge Prep?
Diarra: Babacar Sy scouted me from France.

Go Pokes: How long have you been attending Stoneridge Prep?
Diarra: This is my second year.

Go Pokes: Why did you come to the United States?
Diarra: To reach my highest potential in basketball.

Go Pokes: How long have you been playing basketball?
Diarra: Four years.

Go Pokes: Did you play other sports while growing up?
Diarra: Soccer.

Go Pokes: Were you any good in that sports?
Diarra: Yes.

Go Pokes: What prompted you to begin playing basketball?
Diarra: My height.

Go Pokes: Did you know English when you came to the United States, or did you have to learn after getting here?
Diarra: I knew some but not a lot.

Go Pokes: How difficult has it been for you to get used to life in the United States?
Diarra: A little bit, mainly because of the English.

Go Pokes: What do you like most among the United States?
Diarra: I really like my school, sports and the great comfort about my daily life because of Babacar Sy bringing me here and Mike Mahoney helping with the team and taking care of our daily needs.

Go Pokes: What's been the most difficult thing for you since coming to the United States?
Diarra: Language, learning to interact with others and playing in a different system.

Go Pokes: In basketball, what are you best at doing?
Diarra: My strength is my height and athleticism, my shot blocking, rebound and overall blocking.

Go Pokes: What areas of your game do you need to improve?
Diarra: Work harder on my dribble and rebounding.

Go Pokes: What colleges are recruiting you?
Diarra: Baylor, USC, UConn, Tennessee, Fresno State, Cal, Ball State, Auburn, Texas, Oklahoma State.

Go Pokes: What colleges do you plan to visit? Can you tell me the dates you plan to take your visits?
Diarra: I do not know yet. We will schedule in the future.

Go Pokes: What coach is recruiting you for Oklahoma State?
Diarra: Coach Sutton and Coach Keller.

Go Pokes: How tall were you the last time you measured?
Diarra: 6'11"

Go Pokes: How much do you weigh?
Diarra: 230 lbs.

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