CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With no NCAA Tournament this year, UVA senior forward Mamadi Diakite is adjusting to the ‘New Normal.’
“All I do is stay at home, stay away from people," says Diakite. "I just started working out at John Paul Jones, by myself. I’m using the Gun to get shots up, and I’m doing some conditioning on the bike. I try not to go to public places, or share places with people.”
The loss of the 2020 postseason was difficult, but necessary, for Diakite.
“Safety first," says Diakite. "I understand that people are dying around the world, so I understand that we had to stop it, but I was trying to be a part of something that was very special, and we were trying to make something happen again this year. It hurts. It hurts a lot of people, including me, too. But it is what it is, we’ll have to deal with it.”
Diakite didn't speak English when he enrolled at the Blue Ridge School in 2014.
He'll graduate from UVA with a major in French and a minor global culture and commerce.
And he helped lead the basketball program to its first-ever national championship.
“Being able to realize I was part of something very special is big for me," says Diakite. "I’m coming from a country which is very poor, a third-world country. Me being able to be on that stage where everyone isn’t able to get to, or where everyone doesn’t get the experience of, was very big for me.”
Diakite is looking to make the leap to the NBA this year.
He went through the draft process last season, before returning to school for his senior year, and he says he’s ready to join the league.
“I’m hearing some good stuff about myself," Diakite says. "All I can say is, I’m a player. Whatever you want to play me, I’m ready for. I’m just here to do the job.”
Mamadi Diakite finished his college career with 997 points.
He’s second all-time in program history in blocks, behind Ralph Sampson.
The NBA Draft is on June 25th.