Cheick Diakate made great advances this year at Bridgton Academy and his recruiting interest level really picked up, especially in late winter. Virginia Tech had been on him for a while and had been the presumed leader since last fall. They decided late to offer him and the player that he might most remind followers of the program is Mbindo Dongo.
Dongo arrived from junior college as a 6-9, 235-pounder or so and Diakate is very close to that same stature. Like ‘Do, Cheick is a very physical player who plays the game with passion and intensity. He is a very coachable player and wants greatly to elevate the status of his game and will be a very earnest worker in the program.
Talk to his coach, Whit Lesure, and you hear nothing but superlatives concerning Cheick’s work habits, how very coachable he is, how much he improved this year, and what a terrific kid he is and how he will be a very high quality citizen and representative for the program and University.
Like Dongo also, Cheick is very athletic and has the body to bang inside, which is greatly needed in this program. His strengths right now are his ability to rebound the basketball and play defense inside. He really gets off the floor very well, also like Dongo, and is a fine shotblocker on the court. He doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well now, he isn’t a player that you can send down to the low block, post him up and throw it in there and let him score. His points come right now from tip-ins, working the offensive glass, dunks and getting out and running in transition — basically, hustling in transition for points, cleaning up the trash inside and using his athleticism to go over people to score.
Diakate has no low post game to speak of currently but does have the mindset, athleticism and physical nature to be able to earn some early minutes because of his defense and rebounding ability. He also can be the type of player who can be expected to be a sponge as far as learning low post offense, with the fine coaching he will be getting at VT.
There is no question that Diakate has great hunger and a burning fire inside to be the best he can be, much like many of the foreign kids who arrive in the States. They have an eagerness to extract everything they can from their time in the U.S. and don’t feel entitled like some of our kids.
Also like Dongo, how quickly Diakate is able to get some early minutes might be predicated on how rapidly he picks up the offense. That was the single biggest...
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