Once the NCAA stepped in and declared Moustapha Diagne ineligible last year, it kind of seemed inevitable he and Syracuse would eventually part ways. According to various reports, that time has come, and the former Orange commit is headed to Western Kentucky.
The 6-foot-8 post player was first connected with Western Kentucky a few days ago, when it was reported he was taking an official visit to the school.
Former Syracuse signee Moustapha Diagne to visit WKUhttps://t.co/3nbCXe5Gvw
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) July 31, 2016
Today, the word is coming out from people including Adam Zagoria that Diagne will indeed sign with WKU, ending any possibilities of him ever wearing orange. It’s a bit of a blow for Syracuse, as the Orange were still pursuing him to be part of what will likely need to be a huge recruiting class in 2017. But as I mentioned, it wasn’t totally unexpected to see him heading elsewhere.
It’s been a rocky trip to the D1 level for Diagne. After being denied by the NCAA last year, he wound up at a junior college in Florida. Following a single season there, he decided to test the NBA Draft waters. Unbeknownst to him, the rules that enable NCAA players to return to school without losing eligibility after declaring for the draft do not exist at the junior college ranks. Diagne then lost a season of eligibility, leaving him with only two more. Meaning, wherever he was going to wind up, he was going to have to sit out the upcoming year no matter what.
Perhaps the biggest hiccup this causes for Syracuse is simply a factor of the numbers game. There’s a very real chance that the Orange will only return either four of five players to the 2017-18 roster. Tyler Roberson, Dajuan Coleman, and John Gillon are all in their final year of eligibility. The same is true of Andrew White, if he ever actually does commit to the Orange. Tyler Lydon is a projected first round pick next year and Jim Boeheim has already pretty much said he’s as good as gone. Tyus Battle has the talent to be a one-and-done player.
Add in the fact that Syracuse will have at least one open scholarship (or two – again, depending on what happens with White), and you’re looking at a class of between five and seven players. Frank Howard, Paschal Chukwu, Taurean Thompson, and Matt Moyer are the only four players who are almost definitely going to be back, with an outside chance either Lydon or Battle stays another year.
What’s my point here? Well, let’s say that Battle and Lydon both go pro. That leaves Syracuse with four players and seven open scholarships. Bringing in seven freshmen to fill up all of those open roster spots would make the 2017-18 team one of – if not the – youngest teams in Syracuse basketball history. Having one of those incoming players being a junior, two years out of high school and more physically mature, would have been beneficial for a few reasons.
The first being that whole “more physically ready” part, and the second is simply to space out the scholarship situation a little bit more. If the Orange wound up bring in seven freshmen, added to sophomores in Thompson and Moyer, that’s nine players who are still barely out of high school. Given the fact that – due to the logjam at forward this year – both Thompson and Moyer may wind up at the end of the bench as freshmen, you’re looking at a whole lot of inexperience, too.
But, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it’s time to wish Moustapha Diagne well. I was always a fan of his potential, but that potential is off to Western Kentucky. Good luck, Tapha.