This article is part of a series on the 2015 recruiting class of Syracuse men’s basketball, currently ranked 2nd in the country.
The Syracuse Orange will be entering the 2015-2016 season with big shoes to fill in its front court. Rakeem Chistmas has played his last game in the carrier dome and backup center and Jamesville-Dewitt grad Dejaun Coleman’s status is uncertain as he missed all of last year with a knee injury. With the remaining big men on the current roster unproven, all signs point to incoming freshman and four-star recruit Moustapha Diagne.
The power forward/center out of Pope John XXIII’s high school in Sparta Township, New Jersey is currently ranked as the 55th best player in the 2015 high school class according to ESPN.com. He plays the game at a high level and is known for his shot-blocking ability and athleticism. Originally born in Senegal Africa, Diagne has flourished in his senior season and should provide immediate depth and competition among Syracuse’s bigs.
6’9”, 240 pounds
7’3” wing span
15 ppg, 12 rpg, 2 blocks per game in 2014-2015
Turns 20 in October 2015
Defense: Very similar to a former Orange commit named Christmas, Diagne has the ability to consistently impact the game on defense. He is a tenacious shot blocker and a very good rebounder.
Motor: Diagne plays with a lot of intensity and has a very high motor. He’s active all over the floor and brings plenty of energy to the game. He should be a fan favorite because of his hustle.
Athleticism: Explosive for his size, loves to block shots and throw down. Has a large frame and is quicker than he looks, able to jump the passing lanes. He’s in great shape.
Length: This dude has a wingspan of 7’3”. Another perfect recruit for the 2-3 zone defense.
Offense: While Moustapha is a game-changer on defense, he has plenty of room to improve on offense. He doesn’t currently have much in the line of effective post moves in a half court offensive set. Diagne scores a lot of his points on rebounds and alley-oop dunks.
Size: Just like the athleticism knock on Syracuse recruit Malachi Richardson, the size issue really is nitpicking. At 6’9”, he is slightly undersized for the center position and will need to continue getting stronger.
Along with potentially replacing Christmas in the lineup, Diagne’s overall game is very similar to the four-year starter. He is active on defense protecting the rim and is a very tough rebounder. While his offensive game is still raw, he is an excellent athlete and his post moves should improve with more work and repetition.
Moustopha’s role next year will largely depend on Dejuan Coleman’s health and his adjustment to the college game. The big fella could be inserted right into the starting lineup or start the season on the bench. However it plays out, Diagne will make immediate contributions on defense and with his hustle.
The nickname “Mufasa” seems inevitable for the prized-recruit and Syracuse nation will appreciate the effort he plays with. You can watch him next at the Jordan Brand Classic hosted at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 27th.