Cheick Diallo Set To Make International Impression
Cheick Diallo arrived in Portland, Oregon, for the Nike Hoop Summit this week with a growing reputation in American basketball and the perfect opportunity to make his mark on the international game.
The 6-foot-9 forward from the African country of Mali has been slowly but surely making a name for himself in U.S. high school circles since moving to Centereach, New York, three years ago.
But unlike many of his World Select teammates, many of whom have been playing for their national teams from the age of 15, Diallo has played very little international ball.
Now the MVP of this season’s McDonald’s All-American Game, Diallo has the opportunity to become as well known outside of the U.S. as he is in it - and he is in the mood for bold predictions while he is at it.
“Of course we are going to win, no matter what,” laughed Diallo when asked for his prediction for Saturday’s game. “I know all the USA guys, so that is going to make it easier for me. I have played against them or with them.
“I knew a couple of the World Team players from playing in the USA or at the Jordan Brand Classic game, but getting to know them in practice this week has been fun.”
Diallo’s larger-than-life personality has seen him emerge as one of the leaders on the World Select Team, and his basketball abilities are beyond question, as he proved with his McDonald’s MVP honor after he scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as his East team beat the West 111-91.
“I really enjoyed the experience of the McDonald’s Game, and I was proud to be MVP,” said Diallo. “I am just trying to get better every time I play, and the Nike Hoop Summit is somewhere new I can learn.”
Impressive as Diallo’s resume is becoming in his new country, he remains something of an unknown quantity on the global stage with his one international experience limited to playing for Mali’s U16 team at the FIBA Africa Championship in Egypt four years ago.
“I have not played much for my country. I played for Mali in 2011 before I moved here and I would like to do it again, but it is difficult to find the time. Maybe one day.
“But I am proud to be representing Mali in this game. Nobody from my country has played at Hoop Summit before so it is an honor.”Tickets for the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit start at just $10. Group tickets are available for as little as $4. Service charges apply. Tickets are available through the Rose Quarter Box Office, by calling 800-745-3000 or online at usab.com/nikehoopsummit.