Bigs are not in short supply for the Cincinnati Bearcats, who boast a roster that has top playmakers like Gary Clark and Kyle Washington as well as promising youngsters like Tre Scott and Nysier Brooks. Both Scott and Brooks carved out roles for themselves as freshman and look to be key pieces both on the glass and on defense for the next few years.
But the college game doesn’t allow for complacency so there will always need to be that next guy. In that regard, Mick Cronin and his staff did well in recruiting for the 2017-18 season, adding even more height and depth to the frontcourt. One of the key additions to the cause was Mamoudou Diarra.
Diarra was born in Bamako, Mali but he developed as a basketball player at 22 Feet Academy in Greenville, South Carolina. A 6’9 forward, Diarra is a lanky fellow, weighing in at 215 pounds, but his height and wingspan cannot be ignored. Using his natural talents, Diarra projects in much the same way as Scott, with the ability to defend in the paint and grab rebounds at a high level. He was ranked a three-star recruit by 247Sports and committed to UC pretty shortly after making an official visit. Considered the No. 3 prospect out of South Carolina and a top 200 player nationally, Diarra picked UC over UConn (victory!), Washington, Colorado, Evansville, Kansas State, Long Beach State, Marquette and Missouri.
During his senior season, Diarra fit the prototypical mold of a UC big man, swatting shots away with regularity while racking up rebounds. He netted 18.5 points per game as well, but it was his 10.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks that really stood out, especially since the team will have to find players to replace Clark and Washington after this season. He also is used to winning, as 22 Feet Academy went 29-9 with Diarra spearheading the charge last season.
Of course, blocks and rebounds will be Diarra’s key contributions, at least early on, but he will also be making the highlight reel for his play above the rim. Expect plenty of alley-oops and put-back slams from him in the next four years.
And now, some video.