Syracuse Orange basketball fans have been worrying about what Jim Boeheim will be able to do to replace the departing Rakeem Christmas, but with every scrap of information that comes out about Moustapha Diagne, things seem to be looking up as far as post play is concerned heading into next season. The 6-foot-9, 230 pound big man led his Pope John team to its first ever Non-Public A New Jersey state championship yesterday, crushing CBA 71-35 to win the crown.
Diagne didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but that’s mainly because he didn’t have to. Pope John led 19-3 after the first quarter and never looked back, meaning Diagne spent a significant amount of time on the bench in the runaway victory. Diagne hit 5-of-9 shots to finish with 10 points and five rebounds in his limited action. Diagne only spent about 20 minutes on the court.
And now, Diagne and his Pope John squad will keep playing for the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title, which pits the public and private high school champs from throughout Jersey against one another in a winner take all tournament. Think of it as the Game of Thrones, only without the dragons, murder, and hopefully twincest.
Also competing in the Tournament of Champions will be Roselle Catholic, the school that knocked off Malachi Richardson’s Trenton Catholic the other day in the Non-Public B semifinals. Roselle, led by Kentucky signee and former Syracuse target (and Dion Waiters clone) Isaiah Briscoe – who first came on the national radar as the backcourt mate of Tyler Ennis a few years ago – is expected to be the top seed. Hopefully, Diagne will get a chance to exact a little vengeance for his future teammate Richardson, who scored 21 against Roselle but couldn’t fend off Briscoe and his 34 point effort in that game. Roselle, you might also remember, is the former high school of current Syracuse forward Tyler Roberson, as well.
Diagne is an enticing prospect for Jim Boeheim next year. He could play either the power forward or center position, and his 7-foot-3 wingspan must have Boeheim salivating when thinking about him manning the back of the zone. He’s also still fairly raw, but is a lot more polished offensively than he gets credit for, so depending on Dajuan Coleman’s health and however the Thomas Bryant situation turns out, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Diagne getting meaningful minutes in the post next season.