Basketball: Monty on Diallo: `Fabulous athlete’

Cal coach Mike Montgomery remembers his reaction the first time he saw Idrissa Diallo on the basketball court.

“You’re just kind of, `Whoa, this guy can really run and jump.’ He’s like a 6-3 or 6-4 guy in a 6-10 body and about 230,” Montgomery said of the Senegalese native the Bears signed to a national letter of intent Wednesday night.

Diallo, a senior at Cathedral High in Los Angeles, joins four-star point guard Ahmaad Rorie in a two-man recruiting class that will arrive in Berkeley next fall.

Rated as a three-star prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Diallo came to the U.S. just two years ago.

Diallo played last season for Middlebrooks Academy in Los Angeles, where he averaged 21.3 points, 12.5 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game.

Still, as a basketball prospect, he is raw with a substantial upside.

“Fabulous athlete. He’s off the charts, athletically,” Montgomery said.

Diallo hasn’t played for five months because he broke his elbow, but Montgomery said the entire Cal coaching staff was impressed with what they saw last season.

He fills a personnel need with senior forward Richard Solomon — a similar body type — due to graduate.

“He stacks up favorably (with Solomon). He’s strong. He pursues the ball. He can really rebound,” Montgomery said. “He’s obviously a little inexperienced. He’s another one of the African kids who grew up playing soccer, like most of them.

“But he’s competitive and we can focus on getting him to get every ball, we can lob to him. Those kinds of athletes are tough to come by.”

Jeff Faraudo