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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga picks up commitment from 7-foot Real Madrid center Ismaila Diagne

Approximately two weeks after Ismaila Diagne was initially linked to Gonzaga, the 7-foot Real Madrid center announced Monday on his social media platforms he’s signed with the Bulldogs, filling the 13th and final scholarship spot on Mark Few’s roster for 2024-25.

Diagne’s announcement, posted to both his Instagram and X accounts, featured the 17-year-old wearing a white No. 24 Gonzaga jersey and a caption that read “Zag Nation, let’s make history!”

A native of Senegal, Diagne has represented Real Madrid’s youth teams since 2020, recently helping the Spanish club’s under-18 team win an Adidas Next Generation Tournament championship while making a handful of appearances for the senior team that won a Liga Endesa title last week.

Multiple Spanish media outlets reported that Diagne committed to Gonzaga last month, but a Spokesman-Review source indicated that the player’s addition wasn’t finalized at that point.

Diagne, who turns 18 in December, is expected to arrive in Spokane this fall with four years of eligibility and joins a reloaded Gonzaga roster that’s already been pegged as a top-5 team by some outlets entering the 2024-25 college basketball season.

The Zags lost just one rotation player, Anton Watson, from a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament, and made four additions in the transfer portal, adding Pepperdine’s Michael Ajayi, Arkansas’ Khalif Battle, Tarleton State’s Emmanuel Innocenti and Colgate’s Braeden Smith.

At 7 feet, Diagne will be the tallest player on GU’s roster next season and gives the Bulldogs another reinforcement in a frontcourt that brings back starters Graham Ike and Ben Gregg, along with top reserve Braden Huff, a WCC All-Freshman selection last season.

A native of Nguekhokhe, Senegal, Diagne averaged 10.2 points per game for Real Madrid’s U-18 team during a run to the Adidas Next Generation championship in Berlin, Germany. The African-born center shot 55.6% from the field while averaging 7.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game during the tournament and scored 10 points with seven rebounds while helping Real Madrid beat French team PFBB INSEP Paris 85-84 in the championship game.

Diagne also made five appearances for Real Madrid’s senior team, four of those in Liga Endesa play and two in the Euroleague. He averaged 5.0 points on 58% shooting in the Liga Endesa games while grabbing 4.5 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game.

A mobile center who demonstrates high upside as a rim protector on the defensive end and finisher on the offensive end, Diagne posted impressive numbers for Real Madrid’s U-18 team during the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in 2023, averaging 12.5 points on 55% shooting from the field to go with 12 rebounds per game.

Gonzaga’s been one of the most successful programs in the country when it comes to recruiting and developing international prospects. Domantas Sabonis, Rui Hachimura, Filip Petrusev, Killian Tillie and others had successful stints in Spokane before getting opportunities in the NBA.

Gonzaga’s global recruiting efforts were largely credited to former assistant Tommy Lloyd, now entering his fourth season as the head coach at Arizona, but the addition of Diagne one year after the Bulldogs signed European prospects Luka Krajnovic and Pavle Stosic, reaffirms the program’s desire to scout and sign international talent.

Diagne will become Gonzaga’s first African-born player since Oumar Ballo, a highly-touted center who recently transferred to Indiana following three seasons with Lloyd at Arizona and two at Gonzaga.