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October 7, 2002

African Big Man to Visit This Weekend

Diarra (inside)An original report from Rivalshoops.com had him on campus last weekend, but power forward/center prospect Konimba Diarra will visit South Florida this weekend, according to Our Savior New American Head Coach Ronald Stelzer.

Diarra, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound rebounder/defender, was on the campus of St. Joseph's (Penn.) on Saturday and Sunday for the first of the three official visits he has scheduled. Following his trip to Tampa, Diarra will visit SUNY Stony Brook.

A native of the small African nation of Mali, Diarra, came to the United States three years ago and enrolled at Our Savior, a budding international basketball factory coached by Stelzer, who is also the school's headmaster. New American's basketball program was initiated just five years ago and is already considered one of the nation's best.

In addition to Diarra, the team boasts a slew of other potential Division I players. Senior forward Oumar Sylla (6-6), another Mali native, has verbally committed to Valparaiso. Junior forward Juan Palacios (6-8) is generally considered one of the top 50 prospects in the class of 2004 and has interest from Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse, UConn and others. Senior shooting guard Gene Selimi (6-5) and junior shooting guard Walter Murray are also expected to sign Division I offers.

Stelzer said Diarra is one of the hardest-working players on his roster and has continually improved his skills. Diarra averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots last season and is rated the nation's No. 26 center prospect by Rivals.com. He had a solid summer, which included participation in the prestigious addidas ABCD camp, generally considered the top showcase of high school talent.

"He plays with a lot of energy," Stelzer said. "He rebounds well and he's a presence under the basket. He hasn't scored a lot for us because he's playing on a pretty good team, but I think he will this year. He's been working hard on his post-up game."

An excellent student, Diarra is rapidly learning English and will be successful on the collegiate level both academically and athletically, Stelzer said.

South Florida's coaching staff has already made several trips to Centereach to visit with Diarra. Stelzer said he expects Diarra to sign during the early period, Nov. 13-20, but he is not aware of any favorite for his developing post man at this point in the recruiting process. Other schools which have shown interest at one point or another are Villanova, UConn, Louisville, Kentucky, Hofstra and Marquette.


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