When Michigan had Hunter Dickinson, a center, earn All-American
honors as a freshman last season, finding another young big to pair
with him was likely not in the mind of Wolverine fans. However,
head coach Juwan Howard has brought in the most talented players
irrespective of position.
That is seemingly the case with a consensus five-star recruit
from IMG Academy, Moussa Diabate, who has become one of the biggest
risers in scouting circles and is consistently climbing up
analysts' draft boards this season.
So if you had your hopes up that your favorite NBA team could
snag the 6-foot-11 center in the second round, you might want to
begin tempering those expectations. Diabate is a long, surprisingly
skilled big man with a 7-3 wingspan who has been on the radar of
NBA scouts dating back to his time in France.
Of Malian and Guinean descent, Diabate was born in Paris, where
he began his youth basketball career at 12. He quickly opted to
come to the United States at 14, and he joined perhaps the most
vaunted high school basketball program in the country, Montverde
Academy. After one year at Montverde, Diabate spent time bouncing
around prep schools before eventually landing in Bradenton, Florida
with the prestigious IMG Academy.
The move to join the Ascenders came on the heels of a successful
FIBA stint with France. As an underaged player at the 2019 European
U18 championship tournament, Diabate averaged 13.1 points, 11.1
rebounds, and 2.1 blocks over seven games against the best players
from Europe in his age group en route to a fifth-place finish.
Diabate's move to Bradenton helped reload a squad fresh off a
championship at GEICO Nationals. During his junior season, Diabate
found plenty of room to operate to the tune of over 14 points and 7
rebounds per game. This was in spite of playing with prominent big
men Mark Williams (Duke), Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (Tennessee) and
Zach Edey (Purdue). The Ascenders ran their way to a 19-7 record,
and it looked like another GEICO national championship was on the
horizon. That, however, would not come to fruition, as COVID-19
wiped out the season.
Headed into his senior season at IMG, Diabate penned his
National Letter of Intent to head to Michigan, headlining the No.1
recruiting class in the country alongside fellow five-star recruit
Caleb Houstan. Diabate chose the Wolverines over Kentucky, Arizona,
Florida State and more. The Ascenders enjoyed another wildly
successful season last year (21-3 overall) before falling to
Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) in the semifinals of the GEICO
Nationals. For his efforts, Diabate was named both a McDonald's
All-American and Jordan Brand All-American, despite neither game
being played due to COVID.
Along with perhaps the most heralded Michigan recruiting class
since the "Fab Five," Diabate arrived in Ann Arbor to an NCAA
preseason top-10 team that returned Dickinson, an All-American.
With such an accomplished team staple entrenched in Diabate's
natural position, playing time was hard to come by early in the
In his first five games, Diabate only crossed the 20-minute
threshold once. Over his last seven games, however, Diabate has
averaged 24.0 minutes per game despite only logging 7 minutes
against San Diego State before getting injured. Diabate has shown
just what makes him so intriguing during those six healthy
I spoke with our Sr. NBA Draft Analyst, Matt Babcock, to get his
thoughts on what the French big man could bring to the next
“I watched Diabate last season when
he was in high school at IMG Academy. I was most impressed by his
physical profile, mobility and motor. This season, I’ve watched a
lot of film, and had the opportunity to see Diabate in person when
Michigan played at North Carolina. I still like everything about
him that I did before. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, as
he’s shown me that he has more upside on the offensive end of the
floor than I had initially thought. I think he has a chance to be a
good NBA player.”
Rim-running, shot-blocking prowess and overall defensive
versatility make Diabate a compelling prospect. I was able to see
Diabate up close in Michigan's loss to the UCF Knights, and he
flashed more skill than I had expected. He hit a three-pointer and
a mid-range fadeaway in the post, and defensively, he switched onto
Watching Diabate during warmups was also very insightful, as I
was able to get a better idea of who he is as a person. Diabate
seems highly outgoing just by watching him do his post-up routine.
Speaking with some folks around the team, there was nothing but
positive reviews for Diabate.
It has been a meteoric rise up draft boards thus far for the
19-year-old from Paris. Diabate is certainly a prospect for the
scouting community to watch. We look forward to continuing to track
his progress here at BasketballNews.com.