In a move that seemingly nobody saw coming, the Gophers received a commitment from Gaston Diedhiou for 2014, and there is pretty much zero info out there about this guy. Most of the recruiting sites didn't even have a page for him until he signed. Here's what we know:
- He's 6-9, 225 lbs (maybe, but listed anywhere from 206-240) with a long wingspan over seven feet. He fits a need at PF, specifically a physical power forward, and hopefully he can be a rim protecting center when Eliason and Walker move on as well. If he can play.
- He's from Senegal and played at the Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain last season. He's the fifth player from there in this class to sign with a D-I program (Maryland, Louisville, Pitt, and UC-Riverside got the others) so they at least seem to put out decent talent. They've had 15 other guys sign with D-1 programs the last four years, but the best of the list is Boris Bojanovsky at Florida State.
- He will be 21 when he starts his career. That's right, a 21-year old freshman.
- It's irresistible to compare him to Gorgui Dieng, given their similarities and the Pitino connection. This kid is not Dieng. He may become him, but he's not him at this point at all.
Given that there aren't any scouting reports out there about him all you can do is watch a couple of youtube videos and I'm cautiously optimistic here. Keeping in mind that the level of competition looked rather sub-par and that this was a highlight video with the whole point being to showcase the best of his game, Diedhiou showed a few nice things.
He's definitely big and athletic, and he looks strong, although we'll see how that translates to the Big Ten. He appears to fundamentally understand rebounding and has good instincts, his free throw form and results look good, and they even showed him hitting a couple mid-range jumpers. He's comfortable putting the ball on the floor from the top of the key to get to the rim, and looks comfortable in the post going to his right either for a lay up if he can get around his man or a smooth looking jump hook. He only went left from the block once in the video, so that's likely something he'll need to work on.
You will hear him called a project, and maybe rightfully so, but he looked more polished in that video than I was expecting, and as a 20-year old he should be. Again, level of competition, highlight video and all those caveats but I was impressed. Hopefully I don't end up looking like an idiot. I'm getting kind of tired of that.