OK, maybe that’s not entirely fair to Cheick Diallo, the newest member of the Kansas men’s basketball program. But that’s the quick take on the 6-foot-9 center out of Our Savior New American High in Centerreach, New York, who announced his commitment Tuesday afternoon via Twitter …
… and patched at least one hole, on paper, for the 2015-16 Jayhawks in their pursuit of a 12th straight Big 12 title and an NCAA Tournament run of more than one weekend. All together now: Rim protector.
Diallo’s game is not terribly dissimilar from — if anything, it’s more advanced than — the last great shot-swatter to put on a Jayhawk uniform, Embiid, a 7-footer who stormed through the Big 12 in his first and only season in Lawrence. Diallo’s narrative isn’t dissimilar, either, having grown up in Mali and only recently taken up basketball before moving to the United States.
The big man was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 5 center prospect in the country. More important, Diallo reportedly recorded a 7-4 wingspan and a 9-1 standing reach at the Nike Hoop Summit.
The Jayhawks (27-9) were fairly challenged — and that’s putting it kindly — this past winter when it came to scoring inside and shot-blocking in the post. KU completed just 56.0 percent of its attempts at the rim, which ranked 251st nationally, according to Hoop-Math.com.
The Jayhawks had been chasing a true big man on the recruiting trail to push 6-10 center Landen Lucas and 6-8 power forward Jamari Traylor, neither of whom are natural shot-changers at the collegiate level.
And it’s no coincidence that Self’s biggest gets for the 2015 haul have both been big men. KU landed 6-9 forward Carlton Bragg out of Cleveland back in January; Bragg is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 3 power forward prospect in the country and is expected to immediately push for a starting role. The Jayhawks, at present, must replace two starters, both one-and-done freshmen: wing guard Kelly Oubre, who projects as a lottery pick in June, and power forward Cliff Alexander, likely an early second-round selection.
As with Oubre and Alexander before him, Diallo is already on NBA radars before he enrolls at KU: DraftExpress.com projects the Africa native as the No. 14 selection in its 2016 mock draft.