Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng, President Obama share mutual respect

The Sengalese center had the opportunity to meet his hero at the White House on Tuesday.

In a recent trip to Senegal, President Barack Obama kept hearing one name pop up over and over.

"Everybody was very excited about Mr. Dieng," the United States commander in chief said.

As in Gorgui Dieng, the Minnesota Timberwolves' 21st overall draft pick out of Louisville.

Dieng and his former college teammates were in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to be honored by Obama for their 2013 NCAA tournament championship run. For the 6-foot-11, Senegalese center, it was a chance to meet one of his heroes.

In his biography on the Louisville website, Dieng listed the president as the person he'd most like to meet.

Following a complimentary speech where Obama praised Dieng, razzed Rick Pitino and mentioned the coach's son, Richard Pitino, whom the Minnesota Gophers hired as their head men's coach this offseason, the president and Dieng exchanged a handshake and smiles.

The elder Pitino presented Obama a commemorative Louisville Slugger bat and a jersey with the No. 1 and "Obama" emblazoned on the back.

The president sent Dieng and fellow draft pick Peyton Siva on to the next step of their careers with words of support. "Both Gorgui and Peyton were taken in last month's NBA Draft, and so we wish them all the best of luck in their next endeavors."

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