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Diabate emerging as an option for Kentucky in 2020

Another international big man is drawing interest from Kentucky.

High School Basketball: Hoophall Miami Showcase Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It’s well known that Kentucky will be looking for help in the frontcourt next season.

EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks Jr. may all be looking to enter their names into the NBA Draft and with Nate Sestina graduating, no one would be left to have a foundation down low for next season. Lance Ware Jr. and Isaiah Jackson are both very talented, but you’re going to need more than just two freshman bigs to compete at a high level.

As this issue has progressed, more and more names have seemingly jumped into the mix. Five-star forward Greg Brown and four-star center Cliff Omoruyi have been the most consistent names, but four-star forward JT Thor has reemerged as an option, and John Calipari hosted international recruit Kai Sotto on a visit earlier this week.

There has been talk of other players joining Terrence Clarke and Devin Askew in reclassifying to 2020, and the newest name is Moussa Diabate.

At 6-10 out of France, Diabate is a top-10 player in the class of 2021. His highest ranking is No. 8 overall by ESPN while holding offers from the Michigan Wolverines, Memphis Tigers and Florida State Seminoles among others.

Diabate currently lives in Florida and is in his first year at IMG Academy. He even got to represent for his country at the FIBA U18 Championships last summer, as he averaged 11.2 points and 11.5 rebounds for the French team.

Rivals’ Corey Evans spoke with Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader about the recent improvements in Diabate’s game and his recruitment.

“I think he’s transformed over the past five, six months from being a rim-runner, low-post guy that can face the basket a little bit to, now, being a face-up power forward that can handle the basketball and can shoot it some,” Evans said. “He’s a gifted athlete. He has long arms. He can guard all over the place. You have to love his placement in today’s game, with versatility in mind. His progressions have been tremendous, and that’s why he’s a top-10 prospect in that ‘21 class.”

The Wildcats have been showing more interest in Diabete this fall, and Roberts added “the Herald-Leader was told Thursday that Kentucky also has serious interest in his recruitment and has been aware of the possibility that he could move to the 2020 class.

Evans said that a college decision, whether about where or reclassification, is still months out and he expects Diabate to play in the spring and summer circuits next year before making that call. That’s a lot of time for Calipari to both make any moves on Diabate and still see where the frontcourt goes from here.

Kentucky is very talented across the board for next season and that’s not even counting who could be returning to the roster after this year. You’d have to think that it’s more of a “when?” than an “if” when it comes to Kentucky adding at least one more big to a recruiting class that’s currently the best in the country, whether it’s a recruit or even a grad transfer.

It may take some time and we don’t know who or how many, but you have to like the chances and the options within Kentucky’s reach, especially when you now add Diabate to the list.

Be sure to read Roberts’ full report for more insight into other 2020 targets for Kentucky.

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