Mamadi Diakite has been a big part of Virginia’s run to the Final Four, hitting the shot that sent their nailbiter of a game against Purdue to overtime, and will be at the head of their push for the program’s first-ever national title. Here’s what you need to know about the Cavaliers center.
He is from Conakry, Guinea
Diakite grew up in Conakry, Guinea on the western coast of Africa. His mother was an obstetrician, and his father was the health inspector general of the country.
He came to the US because of Facebook
Unlike, say, Zion Williamson, Diakite wasn’t a YouTube mixtape star. He managed to gain some visibility by setting up his own Facebook page and putting his highlights up with the help of his sister. Eventually, he was discovered by a former D-1 basketball player who also hailed from Guinea, bringing him over to play as a high schooler at Blue Ridge School in Virginia.
He played soccer growing up
Like most kids from countries with a heavy European influence, Diakite played soccer growing up. He kept getting taller, however, and realized that soccer might not be the best way for a kid who ended up growing to 6’9″ to utilize his athletic talents. He tried basketball out, and the rest is history.
Why is his hair blonde?
It seems to be just a stylistic choice more than anything, and he doesn’t really need a reason to dye his hair blonde. But this Washington Post article says it’s a nod to his early days playing soccer in Guinea, which could also be the case. Either way, it certainly helps him stand out on the court.