This is a part of a regular series on prospective American Family Insurance ALL-USA basketball players. Cheick Diallo, a 6-9, 229-pound senior power forward from Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) was the Most Valuable Player of the NBPA Top 100 Camp this past summer. He is originally from Bamako, Mali in West Africa and was a member of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason boys basketball team.
Recruit ranking: Listed as the No. 6 player overall in the 2015 class by 247Sports.com’s composite rankings.
Style of play: Non-stop motor and way-above-average athleticism make for a nice combination. For now, he’s better on the defensive end, but is an excellent finisher in transition and is capable of knocking down a jump shot from 18 feet in.
Adapting to a new country: Diallo said the hardest thing about playing in the United States is leaving his family behind in Mali while he chases his dream of one day playing in the NBA.
“It was hard at first, because my parents weren’t here,” Diallo said. “It was a lot of switches for me. It was crazy, not seeing my family, my four brothers and my friends.”
Working on: “I’ve improved a lot,” Diallo said. “When I first got here, my jump shot was bad and my post moves were not that good. I’ve improved my scoring and my post moves at the same time. I work hard every day.”
Last season: He averaged 16.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots a game.
This season: Is averaging 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks a game through Thursday.
Big games: He had 24 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in a 82-55 defeat of Life Center Academy (Burlington, N.J.) on Jan. 30. Had 13 points (missing only one shot) with 13 rebounds and four blocks in a 59-54 defeat of Haverford (Pa.) School in the Slam Dunk to the Beach in Lewes, Del., on Dec. 29. Had 10 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocks in a 82-64 defeat of Upper Room Christian (Raleigh, N.C.) on Dec. 9.
Compared to a pro: Has the motor and athleticism of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with a better shooting touch and a longer (7-3) wingspan.
They said it: “He’s only been playing organized basketball for three years. He’s not completely polished in all the intricacies of the low post. He’s going to keep getting better. I’d rather have his talent and lack of experience than someone else’s experience and lack of talent.” — Our Savior New American coach Rev. Ronald Stelzer.
Headed to: His recruitment is wide-open. He has made visits to Iowa State, Kentucky, Kansas, St. John’s and Pitt.
“I don’t like when people ask me where I’m going,” Diallo said. “I like to keep things a secret.”
Whoever lands Diallo could also get, in 2016, OSNA teammate Kassoum Yakwe, who is also from Mali and is Diallo’s closest friend on the team. Yakwe is a 6-7 athletic shot-blocker.
“I would like for us to go to the same school,” Diallo said. “We both want the same thing, but it’s not my choice because Kassoum is a year younger than me.”
Soccer, first, then basketball: Diallo said he gets his high motor from playing soccer in Mali.
“I was a midfielder in soccer but my dad told me to play basketball because I was getting too tall for soccer,” Diallo said. “He told me I had to find a different sport.”