Dawgman.com's Kim Grinolds caught up with Mamoudou Diarra, a 6-foot-8.5, 210-pound power forward from Mali - by way of St Louis Christian Academy - after his Gateway Basketball Club lost a one-point game during an AAU tournament in Las Vegas.
“I’m just a kid from Africa, Mali," Diarra told Dawgman.com. "And I love to play basketball. I don’t like to lose, and like always to win. I come to America for school and basketball, because African school is not that good. In the United States you’ve got better opportunities to be successful at everything.”
When Diarra made the decision to move to America, he made the trip on his own. He's now been in the States for two years. “It was really, really hard," he said. When I came here I didn’t speak any English. My English is not that good.”
Diarra started playing basketball in 2009. “I play soccer too," he said. "I play lots of other sports.”
He also speaks four languages, including French. “I speak a little Spanish too, but not really,” Diarra said.
On the court, Diarra is known for his ability to block shots and rebound, courtesy of his 7-foot-2 wingspan. During Friday night's game, he blocked at least eight shots. “Today was bad for me for rebounding because my knee is bothering me a little bit," he said.
Since Diarra is about to start his senior season at St Louis Christian, how is the recruiting process going for him? “The recruiting process right now, a lot of schools are trying to recruit me," he said. "Washington, Cincinnati, Marquette, New Mexico, and a lot of other schools.”
Diarra claims offers from 15 schools, including Washington. “I talk to Coach Romar every time," he said. "He’s a good guy. He was here today.”
Diarra said he doesn’t know any players at Washington and hasn’t been to Seattle yet. Aziz N'diaye and Malik Dime are two players that have played for Romar, but they are Senegalese.
“Mali and Senegal are kind of the same,” said Diarra.
When is he planning on taking official visits? “I will figure that out," said Diarra. "I don’t know if I’m going to visit now. This is our last game. I’m planning on visiting some schools.”
And a timeline for a final decision? “I’m not worried about it yet, but I will make a decision soon, where I’ll go to school," Diarra said.