Ohio State men's basketball recruiting | 2019 center Ibrahima Diallo takes official visit

Adam Jardy
In a white sweatshirt, Ibrahima Diallo, a center in the class of 2019, sits next to Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith as the Buckeyes go through pregame warmups before hosting Wisconsin on March 10. Diallo was on campus for an official visit. (Adam Jard | Dispatch Photo)

During his life, Ibrahima Diallo has gone from Senegal to Florida to now California, where he just completed his senior season for Napa Prolific Prep.

For his next step, the 7-foot center likely has a Midwest move in mind. Diallo, an unranked recruit among the major recruiting services, completed an official visit to Ohio State during the weekend and has taken another to Pittsburgh.

Those two schools appear to be leading for Diallo, according to Prolific Prep coach Billy McKnight.

“I think it’s just going to be those two and I think he’s going to decide between those two,” he told The Dispatch on Monday night. “I know LSU was in the picture a little bit for a while as well, but with the stuff going on down there I don’t know.”

LSU recently suspended coach Will Wade after a Yahoo! Sports report revealed that he was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing a recruiting “offer” aimed to help land a recruit.

After playing for Victory Rock Prep in Bradenton, Florida, Diallo transferred to Prolific Prep for his senior season. It was then that the Buckeyes started to become involved in his recruitment, according to McKnight.

“We started making some phone calls on his behalf,” he said. “Pittsburgh was a phone call that I made to (coach Jeff Capel), because I know Jeff, and one of our other directors had called Ohio State. They came out and watched him play in Dayton, Ohio, when we played in ‘Flyin’ to the Hoop.'"

At the annual event, Diallo had 20 points and 14 rebounds in a win against Springfield, Ohio, then had 10 points and five rebounds two days later in a win against Geneva (Ohio) Spire Institute.

“They saw him and were like, it’s obviously a no-brainer,” McKnight said of Ohio State. “I don’t know actually how involved Ohio State was before that, I just know that after that it really picked up from there.”

Diallo was on hand Sunday afternoon at Value City Arena to see the Buckeyes rally from a 22-point deficit in the final six minutes against No. 21 Wisconsin only to fall, 73-67, in overtime. Before the game, he watched Ohio State’s warmups from a courtside seat next to athletic director Gene Smith and was seen talking with student coach and former No. 1 NBA draft pick Greg Oden.

McKnight said it’s been a team effort from the Ohio State staff concerning Diallo’s recruitment but that assistant coach Mike Schrage has been the primary recruiter. As of Monday night, the two had not yet talked about his Ohio State visit as Diallo spent the day in transit back to California.

The Buckeyes have one scholarship available for next season after Micah Potter transferred out of the program at the start of the season. They signed three players in November that comprised a top-10 class according to the composite rankings.

McKnight said Diallo possesses a 7-foot-8½ wingspan and has room to grow as a player.

“He just completely changes a game when he’s in there as far as his ability to block shots and rebound,” he said. “Offensively, he’s not super polished, but that’s not what big guys are anymore anyway. They block shots, set great picks, roll, dunk, that’s what he’s good at doing. He’s somebody that can certainly play at that level and affect the game in a very positive way. He’s under the radar, but we’ve had our fair share of really good players come through here and he can certainly play at that level.”


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