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Rayno: With Diedhiou set to sign, Pitino hoping to add center from Mali next

  • Blog Post by: Amelia Rayno
  • April 15, 2014 - 12:53 PM

On Friday, Minnesota received a commitment from Gaston Diedhiou, a very under-the-radar 6-9, 225-pound big man from the Canary Islands in Spain. 

Now, with the spring signing period starting on Wednesday and one of three available scholarships accounted for, another big remains the Gophers' top target.

Six-eleven, 230-pound center Bakary Konate could make a decision as early as tomorrow and Minnesota appears to be on good footing. 

The Mali native, who attends Sunrise Christian Academy, would be Minnesota's fifth recruit for the 2014 class. The Gophers signed power forward Josh Martin and guards Nate Mason and JUCO Carlos Morris in the fall, and Diedhiou -- a 20-year-old who is originally from Senegal, and was minimally recruited otherwise -- is expected to pen his National Letter of Intent tomorrow.

Otherwise, Minnesota's recruiting efforts remain elusive. The Gophers have long been interested in Djuan Piper, but academic issues could force the Seattle wing to go the JUCO route. Power forward Abdoulaye Gueye, a Senegal native playing in Birmingham who visited Georgia Tech over the weekend, seems in no hurry to make a decision. Recently, he also told rivals.com that his top schools are Texas Tech and Georgia Tech.

A short list of names that have been tossed around in association with the Gophers seems to hold little substance. Minnesota appears to have cooled on Kentucky power forward Jackson Davis and North Carolina power forward Jakeem Yates. Interest in Anthony Allen, a 7-foot JUCO that has been speculated about, appears to be low right now.

If Konate commits to the Gophers soon, coach Richard Pitino and his staff could turn their focus to 2015, saving the remaining scholarship for that class.

Konate is still considering four schools: Minnesota, Texas A&M, Tulane and Creighton. The big man is unranked according to rivals.com, but his size and ability to step out on the perimeter and make shots has intrigued an array of notable programs.

The Gophers have two centers on the roster in Mo Walker and Elliott Eliason, but both will be in their final year of eligibility next season.

© 2014 Star Tribune