Virginia Cavaliers forward Mamadi Diakite has made his presence felt through the 2019 NCAA Tournament. While the 6-foot-9 forward has taken strides forward during his junior season, it’s also led to him receiving some attention on the NBA draft front. Although it’s likely that Diakite will remain in school for his senior season, he’ll be an intriguing prospect for the 2020 draft.
Diakite averaged a career-high in minutes per game (20.7) while increasing his scoring, rebounding and blocks across the board. Through the first 35 games of the 2018-19 season, he’s averaged 7.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. His start to Virginia’s run in the NCAA tournament has been a talking point as well, and his minutes have been the highest in his career.
After playing 27 minutes in the Cavaliers’ tournament opener against Gardner-Webb, he logged 28 and 35 in the two games to follow. Over that stretch, Diakiate has scored 38 points with 29 rebounds and five blocks. If this is a glance into the future at what next season may look like for the talented forward, there’s a good chance his draft stock could jump.
Mamadi Diakite NBA Draft Projections & Mocks
Diakite has showcased the ability to do a bit of everything throughout the early stages of his career, and one more year with Virginia could drastically impact his chances to be drafted. Although there aren’t many mock drafts out for 2020 yet, a few were released prior to the NCAA tournament.
One worth noting is the latest from NBA Draft Room which has the Virginia forward listed on the short list of prospects to watch just outside of the second round. They offer some positive outlook on Diakite, stating that he’s a “glue guy power forward who does the dirty work.” It also points out that he “has mobility, length and a fluid game.”
Based on Diakite’s play through the start of the tournament, there’s a very real argument that he should be in the second round of most future mocks. Whether that pans out will be the big question, but his upside is certainly there.
Mamadi Diakite’s NBA Draft Outlook
One key for Diakite could be adding weight, as he’s listed roughly between 225-230 pounds. When up against NBA power forwards and other bigs at the next level, he’ll need to continue to pack on muscle while evolving his game in the process. While he’s had little issue down low at the collegiate level, it’ll be a different beast in the NBA.
The positive side for Diakite is that his ability to rebound and block shots can’t be overlooked. He consistently causes problems for opponents in the paint, and if he sees the type of playing time next year that he has late in the 2018-19 season, there’s a real chance he could post a big stat line.
Overall, Diakite remains a name to watch, but he could benefit in a big way from having one more season at the college level.