Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PHILADELPHIA — It is possible that no player in the Mary Kline Classic on Sunday has a higher ceiling than Cheick Diallo.
The 6-foot-9 2015 big man from Our Savior New American put up 23 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks as Team Inspiration beat Team Bravery, 119-114, at Philadelphia University.
“I played very, very great out there because this is my first time I played this all-star game,” Diallo told SNY.tv. “I had fun.”
Going forward, his upside appears almost limitless.
Diallo is the youngest of five children from Bamako, Mali.
Like many African players, he grew up playing soccer before coming to the U.S. to pursue his dreams of a basketball career.
“I played football before and after I’m going to play basketball,” Diallo said. “Soccer is so hard.”
He has only been playing organized basketball for three years, but his 7-4 wingspan certainly gives him an advantage.
“His upside is tremendous because he runs the floor like a cheetah,” Our Savior assistant Erik Jaklitsch told SNY.tv. “He’s so fast down the floor, he just beats every other big guy down the floor and he’s only really kind of scratched the surface of what he’s capable of doing.
“He’s an extremely hard-working student and player, and he’s a student of the game. He keeps learning and he keeps getting better. He’s only going to be a junior so he’s got two more years of playing basketball. He’s got a whole summer of playing and practicing. He just keeps getting better and better incrementally, and he’s probably one of the hottest prospects this entire spring right now.”
Diallo, who will attend the Amar’e Stoudemire/ Anthony Davis Nike Big Man Academy later this month in New Jersey, holds an offer list as long as his arm.
Kansas, Louisville, St. John’s, Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Iowa State, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, UNLV and Providence are among those who have offered. He also has interest from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio State.
“Outside of Duke and North Carolina, everybody has called about him,” Jaklitsch said. “But we’re not really worried about recruiting right now because he’s going to be able go to whatever school he wants to go to and he just wants to keep getting better.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.