Michigan basketball’s Moussa Diabate enters NBA draft, maintains collegiate eligibility

Detroit Free Press

One big man decided to stay, and the other big man needs more time to decide.

The morning after Michigan basketball center Hunter Dickinson announced he will return to Ann Arbor for a junior season, freshman power forward Moussa Diabate made public his intention to test his 2022 NBA draft prospects while maintaining collegiate eligibility. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft was 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

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“Michigan, it’s been my dream to take my game to the next level,” Diabate wrote in a statement released Monday by the athletic department. “With that in mind, I feel now is the right time to explore the NBA draft evaluation process. I am excited to learn and go through the processes I have heard so much about. It is important to say the support and guidance Coach Howard and the staff has given me has been such a gift. I have appreciated all they have done for me, and my family. I will be entering my name into the 2022 NBA draft process.”

The deadline for early entry players to withdraw from the draft and return to college is June 1, with the draft scheduled for June 23.

MICHAEL COHEN: Staying or going: Evaluating the draft stock of Michigan basketball’s top prospects

The 6-foot-11, 210-pound Diabate was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team by the coaches following a season in which he averaged nine points and six rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game. Diabate began the year as the team’s sixth man but quickly vaulted into the starting lineup and held that position through March.

Though his freshman campaign was defined by ebbs and flows — Diabate reached double figures in scoring 13 times but also committed four or more fouls in 12 games — the former five-star recruit has been on NBA radars for several years. Diabate averaged 13.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in seven games for the French national team during the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship after playing with the U16 team earlier in his career.

He was the No. 17 overall recruit in the Class of 2021 by the time he enrolled at U-M, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Diabate’s unique blend of height, length and athleticism make him an appealing prospect at the next level, where he could guard multiple positions and continue expanding his offense. He was projected as a borderline first-round pick before playing his first game at Michigan but eventually dropped out of most mock drafts by the end of the year. He’s a fringe second-round pick according to most experts.

Contact Michael Cohen at mcohen@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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