In the early signing period, Virginia Tech inked two solid power forward prospects in 6-9, 235-pound Hyman Taylor and 6-7, 215-pound Terrance Vinson. Tech landed yet another solid looking frontcourt prospect yesterday, receiving a verbal commitment from 6-9, 225-pound power forward/center Cheick Diakite (pronounced Check Jah-kah-tay). The Bridgton Academy (North Bridgton, Maine) standout will sign with Virginia Tech this week.
“Yeah, he did commit and he’s going to sign this week,” Bridgton Academy head coach Whit Lesure confirmed.
A native of Mali, Diakite transferred to Bridgton Academy for his senior year. He progressed throughout the season and averaged 10 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks per game, helping Bridgton to a 30-6 record including a NEPSAC Championship. Diakite turned it on in the playoffs, scoring 16 points in each of the final three games including a 16 point, 14 rebound and 10 block effort in the semifinals.
Virginia Tech wanted to add more rebounding and defense to its frontcourt and appears to have done just that.
“He’s a very athletic front court player,” Lesure said. “He played center and power forward for us. I like to use the Detroit Pistons analogy when describing him. I think the closest way to describe him is that he is a Ben Wallace waiting to happen. He’s an old style frontcourt guy. He’s very aggressive defensively, a great rebounder and someone who’s offensive skills will come along.
“When he first got here, he was a player with some skills. But as the season went on, he went from a player with talent to a go-to-guy for us down the stretch. He’s an inside presence. He made a lot of plays for us.”
Georgia, Providence, SMU and many Atlantic 10 teams were showing serious interest before Diakite committed to Virginia Tech. Had Virginia Tech decided not to offer, Lesure believes his star still could’ve ended up somewhere in the ACC, Big East or the Big 10.
Virginia Tech assistant coach Ryan Odom played a significant part in Diakite’s recruitment and was one of the reasons why the Hokies were able to land a commitment.
“One of the things is that the Odom family has dealt with international players for years,” Lesure said. “Ryan was familiar with several kids from Mali while he was at American. So it’s a good fit. Cheick looked at it as an opportunity to play on the highest level, he likes the climate and there was a sprinkle...
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