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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga officially adds 7-footer Ismaila Diagne with last available scholarship

 (Jim Meehan / The Spokesman-Review)

The expected addition of Ismaila Diagne to Gonzaga’s basketball roster became official Tuesday.

The agile, 7-foot post has signed a financial aid agreement and will join the Zags for the upcoming season, according to a Gonzaga release.

Reports connecting the 17-year-old Diagne and Gonzaga surfaced in Spanish media outlets roughly three weeks ago. Diagne averaged 10.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and nearly one block per game last season for Real Madrid’s U18 team.

“I think he’s going to run the floor great,” said Zags coach Mark Few, who will spend nearly two months this summer as an assistant coach with the U.S. team chasing a gold medal at the Summer Olympics. “He’s going to end up being a great rim protector.

“He reminds me of (former Zags great) Ronny Turiaf. He’s got a great attitude and just a real positive bolt of energy. He has the size and the frame that he’s something different than what we have (on the current roster). But he’s young.”

Diagne fills Gonzaga’s 13th and last scholarship. The Zags have assembled a deep roster with four starters and six of the top seven scorers returning, four incoming transfers – Colgate guard Braeden Smith is scheduled to redshirt – and wing Steele Venters on track to return from a torn ACL that sidelined him a year ago.

Diagne will compete for playing time with four proven forwards: Graham Ike, who led GU in scoring (16.5) and rebounding (7.4) last season; Ben Gregg, whose insertion into the starting lineup in January helped turn GU’s season around; Pepperdine transfer Michael Ajayi, the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer (17.2) last year; and Braden Huff, who contributed 9.3 points in just 13.4 minutes per game off the bench.

“He’s going to be a great rim runner and roller,” Few said of Diagne. “We’re hoping he can give us some rim protection that we were lacking last year.” projects Diagne as a potential second-round pick in the 2025 or 2026 NBA draft.

“A long, skinny center prospect with good movement skills and knows his role,” wrote of Diagne. “Has the physical tools to develop into a solid NBA prospect and has long-term upside. Does most of his work around the basket looking for lobs and tip ins. A solid rim protector who could develop into a good NBA level shot blocker but will have to continue to increase his athleticism, timing and gain strength.”

Diagne helped Read Madrid U18 win the Adidas Next Generation Tournament title last month in Berlin. He accounted for the winning points in an 85-84 victory over Insep Paris with a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining. He made 6 of 12 free throws and finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

He averaged 9.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the tournament. In the 2023 Adidas Next Generation Tournament, Diagne averaged 12.5 points on 55 percent shooting from the field, along with grabbing 12 rebounds per game.

Diagne played in four games with Real Madrid’s top squad in the Spanish Liga Endesa (ACB), averaging 5.0 points and 4.5 rebounds. He also saw eight minutes of playing time in two Euroleague games.

Diagne, a native of Nguekhokhe, Senegal, will turn 18 in December.