PADUCAH — Mali native Cheick Diallo is considered to be one of the best prospects in high school basketball, but he's not quite ready to dive into the world of college recruiting.
Diallo — a 6-foot-8 power forward in the Class of 2015 — is in his second full season with Our Savior New American (N.Y.), which is ranked among the top 10 teams in the country. Before he got to the United States, Diallo had less than two years of experience playing basketball in Africa.
Though relatively new to the game, he's managed to land reported scholarship offers from Kansas, Arizona, Ohio State, Louisville, Syracuse and several other top schools.
That's a testament to his hard work on the court, said Our Savior assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch.
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"He's a sponge," Jaklitsch told the Herald-Leader. "He's got a lot to work on still, but he's a willing learner. He wants to learn and that's his biggest thing. He's the ultimate competitor.
"He plays so doggone hard that his will to win is just about as good as anybody's."
For the time being, Diallo is fully focused on his junior season with Our Savior, which suffered its first loss of the season Thursday night to Huntington (W.Va.) Prep. The Pioneers bounced back the following night to defeat Carlisle School (Va.), another nationally ranked team playing in this weekend's Mustang Madness at McCracken County High School.
In the loss to Huntington Prep, Diallo had 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots while playing all 32 minutes. The fourth quarter of that contest highlighted what he does best — swat shots, get loose for open dunks and overpower defenders to earn trips to the free-throw line. It was more of the same the following night, when Diallo had 15 points and again dominated the boards in a rout of Carlisle.
While Diallo hones his game, Jaklitsch has been tasked with managing his recruitment. The assistant coach didn't want to mention the specific schools that have been in the most contact, but he noted that the list was long.
Jaklitsch said he has spoken to coaches from Kentucky regarding Diallo but hadn't heard from them in awhile.
Scout.com ranks Diallo as the No. 6 overall player in the Class of 2015.
Mudiay makes the rounds
When his appearances at two events in Western Kentucky were finalized last year, many expected five-star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay to be signed with the Wildcats by the time his team arrived in the state.
Of course, Mudiay pulled off a surprise in August — committing to hometown Southern Methodist instead of UK.
Still, the Texas native has received a warm welcome in his two trips to Kentucky this season. Mudiay got a nice round of applause when he was named MVP of his game at the Marshall County Hoop Fest last month. He got the same reception Friday night at Mustang Madness.
After Friday's victory, he signed his game-worn shoes — a pair of silver Under Armours — and two kids in the crowd were brought down to the court to shoot free throws, with the winner taking home the souvenir.
"They're great fans out here," Mudiay said. "They still treat me real well. God bless 'em, man."
Mudiay went out of his way to compliment the McCracken County High principal on the new school and gym, and he was all smiles when posing for pictures with UK fans. No hard feelings, it seems, for a kid who once seemed destined to play for the Cats.
"I've still got mad respect for this state, that school, Coach Cal and all of them," he said.
Bolden gets hot
Holmes point guard James "Beetle" Bolden scored just two points in the first half of Saturday's 66-44 victory over McCracken County, but he erupted for 13 points in the third quarter and finished with 18 despite sitting out the last few minutes of the rout.
After the game, Bolden said Butler and Xavier are the two schools at the top of his list. He also has offers from Purdue, West Virginia and Ohio. The Class of 2015 prospect added that Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Clemson are close to offering scholarships.
Bolden said UK's coaches are still interested in him but he doesn't hear from them much. He's never had any contact with Louisville.
California guard Tyler Dorsey committed to Arizona early Saturday morning. The 6-foot-4 prospect is considered the No. 7 overall prospect in the Class of 2015.
Coach John Calipari visited Dorsey at his high school last September, and UK was expected to stay involved in his recruitment. He did not have a UK offer.