UNLV has lost another player to the transfer portal. Mbacke Diong became the ninth player to exit the program the offseason, according to ESPN.
Diong has played four seasons for UNLV, but with the NCAA granting all players an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19, Diong can play one more season.
However, Diong does not appear set on returning to college.
“They gave us an extra year to make up for COVID which is why I’m considering coming back to college,” Diong told ESPN. “My main focus is on being a pro, and entering the transfer portal is an option for me to evaluate the opportunity that I have of coming back to college — not just UNLV but any school that wants me.”
Diong sounds like he would prefer to leave college and make money playing basketball. But he also left the door open for a return to UNLV.
However, it doesn’t sound like the Rebels will be able to offer DIong what he would want out of one more season in college.
“If I decided to return to college, I want to go to a winning program that goes to the NCAA tournament. Having more visibility is a big thing for me. Also somewhere where they can develop me and showcase my potential — what I can bring to the table defensively and offensively,” Diong said.
UNLV is not likely making a push to the NCAA Tournament in Kevin Kruger’s first season. So if Diong wants to play for a team playing deep in March, he will need to leave Vegas.
I am curious to see where Diong ends up. Jonathan Givony, who spoke to Diong for ESPN, said Diong is one of the best big men in the transfer portal.
I think that says more about the portal than Diong though.
We know what Diong is as a player. He is an excellent help side shot blocker with limited offensive upside.
Diong’s two point field goal percentage, block rate, offensive and defensive rebound rates all remained the same or decreased from his sophomore season to his senior year.
Maybe a new system (he was recruited by Marvin Menzies, but played under T.J. Otzelberger the last two seasons) will benefit Diong.
But it is hard to see massive leap for Diong after his last three seasons.
UNLV’s front court now lacks a true center. But that is not a massive problem. Kevin Kruger has landed two power forward transfers from the Big 12 in Victor Iwuakor and Royce Hamm. Plus Moses Wood is still on the roster and incoming freshman Arthur Kaluma has not backed out.
Those four options should be plenty to fill the two front court spots.