Official Visit Primer: An Interview with 2016 VCU target Alpha Diallo [INSIDER]
Swish, swish, swish.
That is the sound fans of whichever team Alpha Diallo chooses are hoping to get accustomed to for the duration of his college career.
Alpha Diallo, who hails from Denver, Colorado, is one of the more intriguing prospects in the Class of 2016. Diallo is a versatile guard/wing with a unique array of skills at 6’6″. He has a very deliberate, measured, approach to the game and displays good shooting mechanics for his size. He is a willing and able passer with a very good handle which allows him to project anywhere from the 1 to the 3 on the court in college. Diallo also possesses the mentality, length, and versatility to guard those same positions on defense. His skill-set, size, mechanics, and potential have many D1 coaches excited about the possibility of cultivating his ability within their programs.
While Diallo was considered a good D1 prospect regionally, he sat out his entire junior season after transferring from 4A Denver West High School to 5A Abraham Lincoln High School last year because of a ruling by the Colorado High School Activities Association that rendered him ineligible to play. He subsequently flew way below the recruiting radar and decided to move back to the East Coast to enroll in Preparatory School, develop his game, and increase his exposure. His profile really exploded this summer on the AAU circuit with the Colorado Hawks under coach Art Williams and especially at Adidas Global Nations 2015 in Southern California. He was noticed by Coach Babacar Sy of Team Africa after getting the opportunity to practice with the team. Alpha’s parents hail from the west African nation of Guinea which afforded him the opportunity to run with Team Africa despite being born in New York. Diallo practiced well, made the squad, and didn’t squander the opportunity to display his considerable abilities. Coming into the event as a relative unknown on the national stage, Alpha Diallo proved he belongs in the conversation with the very best players in the 2016 class.
Alpha Diallo in the Rankings:
ESPN: #90 in 2016 ESPN100 (4-stars, 80 grade)
Rivals: #110 in 2016 Rivals150 (4-stars)
247Sports: #97 in 2016 247Sports Top 100 (4-stars, 91 grade)
Scout: 3 stars, unranked
Teamed up with elite-level 5-star talent in Hamidou Diallo, recent Kentucky commit Wenyen Gabriel, and 2016 top-50 Virginia commit Mamadi Diakite, Alpha Diallo did not look out of place at all. He led his team in scoring at 20.5 ppg on 43.7% shooting. That scoring clip was good enough to put Diallo at 4th highest scoring average for the tournament overall. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Diallo was also 2nd-leading rebounder on his team and for the tournament overall at 10.7 per game behind teammate Wenyen Gabriel. He saved his best for last, exploding for 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead Team Africa to an 89-85 victory in the 3rd-place game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California against Team Lillard in front of a national TV audience on ESPNU.
Alpha Diallo at Adidas Global Nations 2015:
Alpha Diallo’s play at the tournament opened up eyes across the country this summer and sent coaches scrambling to get involved in his recruitment. He has since racked up scholarship offers from schools such as Indiana, Florida, Miami (FL), Boston College, Seton Hall, and Rutgers. He has rocketed up both the national rankings and the wish lists of D1 coaches all across the country.
After deliberating for some time over which prep school to enroll into, Alpha decided to spend his prep year 2 hours north of Boston on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Brewster Academy has pumped out the likes of Thomas Robinson, Mitch McGary, and TJ Warren in recent years. Diallo will test himself against some of the best talent in the northeast while playing in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) under Coach Jason Smith.
Rewind. Enter VCU.
Long before Alpha Diallo became one of the hottest recruits in the nation and his phone started ringing off of the hook, there was Coach Rasheen Davis. Davis, then an assistant at Manhattan College in the MAAC, saw something in Alpha’s game. Coach Davis tendered the first D1 offer that the promising, but ineligible Diallo would receive in October of 2014. Coach Davis’s belief in the ability of Alpha Diallo to play at the very highest of levels led him to renew and extend that offer once again on May 8th, this time as a member of the coaching staff at VCU.
It is that relationship and trust that has led Alpha Diallo to take his first official visit to VCU next weekend, which also happens to coincide with VCU’s Black & Gold game. Alpha Diallo was gracious enough to spend some time with VCURamNation for an exclusive interview going into his visit to Richmond.
*Exclusive* VCURamNation interview with Alpha Diallo:
VCURamNation: Hi Alpha, we appreciate you taking out the time to speak with us about your recruiting process and VCU.
Alpha Diallo: No problem.
VCURamNation: Why don’t we start off by having you give us a brief description of who you are and what your game is like? We have a lot of fans at VCU who are really excited about you and want to know a little bit more about you.
Alpha Diallo: Alpha Diallo, 6’6”, 200 pounds. Guard, 1-2-3 actually. I basically consider myself position-less. You can put me anywhere on the floor and I can produce. I’m a great defender, on the ball and off the ball. I’m a great team leader. I know how to run my team pretty well.
VCURamNation: Do you see yourself running the point more or do you consider yourself more of a 2-3 wing type?
Alpha Diallo: I think I can slide into each spot. Whatever is needed or whatever that play calls for. I can step up and do all 3.
VCURamNation: If you were to pick VCU, how do you think the system Coach Wade employs might help you play to your strengths and natural abilities as a guy who can play the 1 through the 3?
Alpha Diallo: It’d be good, because on pick-and-rolls you can switch a lot times from those 3 spots. So if you have a guy like me, on pick-and-rolls you can switch because I can guard all 3.
VCURamNation: I know VCU in the past has employed a lot of ball screen offenses, do you like the idea of playing in that kind of offense?
Alpha Diallo: Yeah.
VCURamNation: What would you say your greatest strength is as a player if you could have one thing you could pick? What is the X-factor that Alpha Diallo brings to the court?
Alpha Diallo: My mentality and my dog-eat-dog effort to win.
VCURamNation: How has the move to Brewster Academy helped your game? What are the improvements that you have seen in your game since you’ve moved there?
Alpha Diallo: Actually since I’ve got out here I’ve gained about 7 pounds, 7 good pounds, so I’m leveling out in my body. My strength has gotten better, my athleticism has increased. So I feel like overall it’s been a good fit.
VCURamNation: What are the individual and team goals you have for this year before you enter college?
Alpha Diallo: Nationals, be the National Champions this year. Player of the Year, NEPSAC Player of the Year, NESPAC champions.
VCURamNation: How long has Coach Davis been recruiting you? How is your relationship with him?
Alpha Diallo: Coach Davis has been talking to me for a little while now, seen me over the summer. I think he pretty much likes my game, and then from there we started texting, then talking here and there, and then I got in touch with the Head Coach, Coach Wade.
VCURamNation: Was Coach Davis recruiting you at Manhattan before he came to VCU?
Alpha Diallo: Yes.
VCURamNation: What was that like for you, knowing that Coach Davis saw a lot in your game even before he came to VCU?
Alpha Diallo: It means a lot to me because he also felt like, not only could I have played at Manhattan but that I can also play at VCU. He really has a lot of faith in me and also to me he’s a great guy.
VCURamNation: I know especially after Adidas Nations you completely blew up, everyone was talking about your game. You went up there with ranked guys and you were unranked really, going into that, and then you really blew up. You started to get into the national rankings and some of the top 100s. How has that exposure changed the recruitment process for you? Have you noticed a big change after that?
Alpha Diallo: My phone hasn’t stopped ringing after that but it’s all a part of it from what I’ve heard. It’s all a part of it, so I’m just soaking everything in still actually. I’m just enjoying it. Enjoying it.
VCURamNation: Do you know when you want to make a college decision? Do you have a timeline yet or are you still open with your recruitment?
Alpha Diallo: I feel like I’m still open.
VCURamNation: You’re coming in on an official visit to VCU in the next couple of weeks. What are you looking for on your visit or on your visits in general? What do you look for when you go on an official visit? Everyone shows you love in the recruitment process, but when you get on campus, what are you looking for in the place that you choose?
Alpha Diallo: It’s great that I’m coming down to VCU for their open run. Just to see how their players communicate with each other, with the coaches, just how the school is set up. It’s great.
VCURamNation: Do you know what number you want to wear in college?
Alpha Diallo: I’d say 11.
VCURamNation: Is there any reason why you pick 11?
Alpha Diallo: I’ve just had that number for so long.
VCURamNation: Which would you say are the schools which are most active in your recruitment right now? Do you have a top 5, top 10? Who is involved right now?
Alpha Diallo: I don’t have any in my eyes.
VCURamNation: You don’t have a list right now?
Alpha Diallo: No.
VCURamNation: Do you have any other visits set up?
Alpha Diallo: This is the only one so far and that’s, I feel, is me building that relationship with Coach Davis and the Head Coach. I really got a little trust in that and so I decided to have VCU as my first visit.
VCURamNation: That’s great. The fans are really excited about the possibility of you being at VCU. I know the coaching staff obviously really likes you. I know you’re really busy with ball, school, and all that. We really appreciate you taking the time out to talk with us. We wish you all the best on your recruitment and hope you accomplish all your goals for the year. We’ll see you on your official to VCU in a couple of weeks!
Alpha Diallo: Thanks!