At long last, Mamadi Diakite finds NBA home in Milwaukee

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Mamadi Diakite

Mamadi Diakite dunks against Louisville.

Former Virginia standout Mamadi Diakite has signed a two-way contract with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.

One of the key figures in Virginia’s 2019 run to the national championship, Diakite averaged 13.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game last season when college basketball shut down its postseason events. Diakite was a mobile 6-foot-9 leaper, who boasted a 7-3 wingspan. He was particularly known for his powerful dunks and his defensive mobility when he became a strong rim protector.

While he played power forward for Tony Bennett, the Bucks are hoping he can slide to the center position to begin his pro career. However, should he develop his 3-point shot, he could remain as a lethal stretch four. Milwaukee believes the former Wahoo could be a player who can help them down the road if they are patient to wait on him to develop his offensive skills. He’s already there defensively.

At age 23, Diakite is a little older than most players coming out of college and into the NBA.

Diakite tested the NBA waters after the ‘19 season when teammates Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter were all drafted. Diakite was not invited to the NBA Combine, but did participate in the G-League camp and worked out for several NBA clubs.

After returning to UVA for his senior season, Diakite was a significant contributor and was hoping to be drafted last week but was passed in the NBA Draft. The Bucks, which are allowed to sign two, two-way players, used their second on Diakite.

Last season, Diakite averaged 33 minutes a game, shot 47.8 percent from the field, 36.4 percent from behind the arc, and 75 percent from the free throw line as he was selected for the All-ACC second team.

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