Have you ever heard of CSU Northridge freshman Lamine Diane? Most likely not, but don’t worry, unless you live on the west coast you are probably not alone. Let’s start with the basics.
Diane is a 6’7″ 200 pound freshman from Dakar Senegal who played played at Findlay Prep. He was ranked as a 3 star recruit by both Rivals and 247 Sports. Rivals did not have in ranked inside the top 150 high school players, and 247 had him at number 166. After receiving interest from schools like USC, Baylor, and Missouri, Diane ultimately ended up at CSUN coach by Mark Gottfried. He was a member of the Class of 2017, and then redshirted last season. Diane’s father played for the Senegal national team, and was a star in Senegal pro ball, so the pedigree was there. He participated in the Adidas Nations tournament alongside Louisville star Jordan Nwora.
Now to the present. After redshirting last season, Diane has exploded in his first year and is currently averaging 23.8 points, 10.9 rebound, 2 assists to go with 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. He has shown the ability to handle the basketball and get to rim, but also possesses a touch on short jumpers. Much like any player he has he flaws. The CSUN freshman has not yet moved his game behind the 3 point line going 5 for 18 (27.8%) on the season, though that is obviously not a large sample size. Only shooting 97-190 (51.1%) on free throws is a problem as well, and Diane will need to spend a lot of time in the gym working on his shot to get to the next level. One other possible red flag is that CSUN is 10-17 on the season and has lost 7 of their last 9 games. You can’t pin a teams record entirely on one player, but when a player is an NBA talent in a lower conference that should show up in wins at some point.
With that said, scouts will not ignore a player who in his first season has dominated the way that Diane has. Averaging almost 11 rebounds a game at 6’7″ is no easy task, and it is symbolism for the passion and drive that he plays with.
What does all of this mean to his future? Right now, that part of the story is unclear. Playing in the Big West conference is not the best competition that college basketball has to offer, however Diane has performed well against the bigger schools so far. He dropped 32 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks against Pac-12 member Washington State, then had 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks against San Diego State from the Mountain West. Although Yale is an Ivy league member, they have some solid talent as well as a possible draft pick in Miye Oni. Against the bulldogs Diane had 35 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 steals. He has good athleticism, rebounds at a high level, and has shown wing skills in handling the ball to go with his length. Diane’s length allows him to play much bigger than 6’7″ which only helps his evaluation, and given the way the league has moved to essentially position-less basketball, he is exactly the type of player that is being valued now more than ever before. Given his shooting flaws and the lack of team success, Diane should definitely be returning for his redshirt sophomore season but if he declares and goes to the combine, as we have seen with players like Kevin Huerter, you never know what will happen when teams like your potential. There is also a parallel to someone like Kentucky’s PJ Washington, who also happened to play at Findlay with Diane. Last season Washington was just not a good shooter from behind the arc or at the free throw line, but after returning for his sophomore season he has shown off impressive improvement with his stroke and is trending upwards towards a possible lottery selection in this years draft. If Washington had entered the draft last season, he may have been selected in the late first round, but most likely would have ended up in the second round and playing in the G League this season.
As long as he extends his game to the 3 point line and becomes efficient in that regard, Diane will be playing at the next level in the near future.