Minnesota adds 6-foot-9 freshman power forward to roster

Leave a comment

While Richard Pitino’s Minnesota Golden Gophers are off to an 8-2 start to the season, rebounding has proven to be an area that needs to be shored up ahead of the start of Big Ten play. Opponents have managed to rebound 33 percent of their missed shots, a figure that ranks 13th out of 14 Big Ten teams, and senior forward Maurice Walker leads the team with an average of just 5.3 rebounds per game.

Thursday afternoon Minnesota made official the addition of a freshman power forward, as 6-foot-9 Gaston Diedhiou is eligible to compete immediately according to Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Diedhiou, a native of Senegal who attended Canarias Basketball Academy, retook and passed an English proficiency exam that during the summer factored into his being denied admission to Minnesota during the summer.

Earlier in the day Thursday, Pitino said the team was waiting to hear about Diedhiou’s eligibility. “Any day now,” the coach said.

“I don’t have a whole lot of expectations for him right now, immediately,” the coach added. “That’s what those guys need: Playing time.”

According to the report Diedhiou has been living on campus and using the team facilities while also working towards improving his score on the aforementioned proficiency test. That being said, Diedhiou was not allowed to work out with the team during that period, so it remains to be seen just what he can provide the Golden Gophers.

Prior to the addition of Diedhiou the Golden Gophers had just nine available scholarship players. Diedhiou is one of two players added to the Minnesota roster Thursday, with walk-on guard Mike Lukashewich being the other. Minnesota’s next game is Friday night, when they host Seattle.

Minnesota freshman forward denied admission

Leave a comment

Minnesota was set to have two foreign-born players join the program this season, however, late on Tuesday night, it was reported that one of freshman big men did not gain admission to the university.

According to Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune, Gaston Diedhiou, a native of Senegal, was denied entry to the University of Minnesota. The 6-foot-9 Diedhiou passed the NCAA Clearinghouse as a full-qualifier.

From the Star Tribune:

Those sources told the Star Tribune that Diedhiou’s English proficiency test scores were cited as the major concern. Minnesota does not have any thresholds for proficiency test scores set in stone, director of admissions Rachelle Hernandez said, but the results are considered as part of a holistic review done for every applicant. After being advised by other members of the department, Hernandez ultimately makes the decision whether to admit the prospective student.

“Our assessment is really related to can the student be successful academically and can they be successful in an English-speaking setting,” Hernandez said, speaking generally about the admissions process. “Admissions decisions are never based on just one thing.”

This news puts pressure on senior big men Mo Walker, Joey King and Elliott Eliason in Minnesota’s frontcourt. They are accompanied in the front court by freshmen forward Josh Martin and center Bakary Konate, both three-star recruits, according to Rivals. The 6-foot-11 Konate is from Mali, and according to Rayno’s sources, also had difficulty with the admissions process, but was ultimately admitted and is eligible.

The best case scenario for Diedhiou and Minnesota is if he passes the Test of English as a Foreign Language before the start of next semester and can be eligible for the second semester.

This is the second time a recruit was denied admission this summer. In late July, Oregon signee Ray Kasongo, a three-star power forward, was denied admission from the university, the start of a long ordeal that ended with him committing to a junior college.

Minnesota ended the first year of the Richard Pitino era 25-13 (8-10 Big Ten), winning the NIT title over SMU in April.