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February 16, 2013

2014's 'Dwight Howard' gets Monty's attention

Don't know who Idrissa Diallo is? Just wait.

Healthy and - if scholarship offers are any indication - happy, the 6-11 manchild has been living above the rim for Cathedral High's national prep team (The Phantom) after spending much of last season sidelined by injury.

From Senegal, Diallo is one of 2014's most explosive players. He's also wide-open in his recruitment, meaning every coach with a business card has stopped by to pay him a visit.

"He's got over thirty (offers)," Diallo's coach William Middlebrooks told GoldenBearReport on Friday. "I quit counting. Unless the head coach has been in here and shook my hand and made the offer - those are the ones I take most seriously. Cal brought the whole staff out; those are the kinds of offers that I look at."

Good thing, too.

Middlebrooks - who prides himself on not overhyping his players and has mentored a litany of Division I products - believes this latest talent has something special.

"He could be an NBA all-star if he keeps going," says the former Ribet Academy coach now with Cathedral. "I think he could be a Dwight Howard type; he has a very similar build and he'll only keep getting bigger, but his game is very similar."

Diallo doesn't just move well for his size, either. Though nearly seven feet, the coveted junior can get from baseline to baseline in 3.5 seconds.

"He can rebound, he can shoot the midrange shot, he can shoot free throws pretty well, he's a great shot blocker, and he can guard the perimeter," notes Middlebrooks. And, like any athletic big, he likes his teammates "to throw the ball up there so he can go get it."

A 3.33 gpa student, Diallo can hold his own in the classroom, as well.

"That's been the main thing we focus on," remarked Middlebrooks, "just getting better and keeping his grades right."

And while Middlebrooks hasn't sent a player to Cal yet, the Bears are making a compelling push.

"I brought him up there (Berkeley) on an unofficial last year so he's been on campus - walked the campus - he loves it."

Added Middlebrooks, "I'm pretty close with Allen Crabbe so when we were up there we got to spend some time with Allen and hear about how much he likes it, and I've known Mike Montgomery and Gregg Gottlieb for quite awhile so I trust those guys."

Trust them enough to nurture one of his most talented prospects to date?

We'll see.

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