Lamine Diane is a star college basketball player that you may not know

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Lamine Diane
Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Do you know who Lamine Diane is? If not, this article is to inform you on the talent that this star sophomore possesses. There’s a ton that excites me about Lamine’s game and we are going to see if he should be considered for a draft pick.

Lamine Diane is a 6’7, 200-210 pound forward for Cal State Northridge. The team is 9-14 on the year and while the record suggests that their postseason aspirations may be small, they are a lot better than you may perceive. Diane was ineligible to play to start the season and that led to a 0-7 start to the year for the team that had put together quite a tough schedule thinking their star freshman would be playing to begin the year.

CSUN ended up going 3-10 in total with Lamine Diane sidelined. They are now 6-4 with him in the lineup and 4-3 in Big West Conference play. It didn’t take Lamine any time whatsoever to return to his groove from last season (where he averaged over 24 points and 11 rebounds per game) as he went for 30 points, 12 boards, 4 blocks, 2 steals, and 2 assists in his season opener against San Francisco State.

Including Cal State Northridge’s win last night against UCSB where Diane went for 26 points on very efficient shooting from the floor, Lamine Diane is posting some obscene averages already through his first 10 games of the season:

27.7 PTS, 9.9 REB, 2.6 AST, 2.0 STL, 2.1 BLK, 49.2 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 66.1 FT%

The one number that I didn’t include that isn’t too great is his turnover average which got up to 4.0 after he had 8 in the game last night. He’s asked to do so much for the team and he will just have to slow down a bit as the season goes on. There were some charges called in last night’s game that were laughable and were simply called because the refs weren’t used to someone who has the athleticism that Lamine Diane has at his height.

The shot is.. 

Let’s start digging into his game with one part that I’m not too confident about. Let me prelude this conversation by stating that Diane actually can hit the three point shot. 33.3% is a fine number especially for someone with his athleticism. The concern with Diane is the mechanics on his shot and I don’t doubt that NBA coaches will have him switching it up almost immediately once he gets to camp.

Let’s take a look at it:

I want to start with his shot because the other parts of his game will get you excited. The shot is just not too pretty at the moment. He has a clear hitch in it and it is very slow. Even in rhythm the shot just looks…uncomfortable?

I have to give credit to Diane because he splashed both of these shots from behind the arc. And another credit to him is that no one is blocking that shot. Given how tall he is and the fact that the release point is way over his head, it’s unguardable in college if he is hitting it.

One thing about his shot that looks promising is that inside the arc off the dribble, it looks a bit smoother. On this next particular play, Diane is able to get the shot off the dribble over the defender while fading and hits it with ease.

It’s a quicker release than we are accustomed to seeing with him. It suggests that his set shot from behind the arc may not be a lost cause in the eyes of NBA executives.

It wasn’t a one time occurrence either. From watching tape of Lamine, you can tell that inside the arc, he is much more comfortable:

I just mentioned that he is better inside the arc, so let’s talk about his bread and butter:

Lamine’s ability to attack the basket

Lamine Diane is very skilled at finishing around the rim. He’s a player that can score despite the help defense, finish with either hand, and throw down some emphatic dunks:

Last year, Lamine Diane was at an impressive mark as he made 68.7% of his shots at the rim. This year, he has taken it to another level.

Lamine Diane has a 78.8 FG% at the rim. 

You rarely will ever see that high of a percentage especially from someone who attempts as many shots as Lamine Diane does at the rim. There just aren’t as many finishers quite like Lamine in college basketball. He may not have a great ball handling ability at this point of his career, but his quick first step is what sets him apart from the competition.

He’s a slithery finisher and doesn’t force too many shots. He lets everything come to him and while he takes the most shots per game out of anyone in the Big West, the shots he takes are ones that he can confidently make. He has clear NBA athleticism and shows it when he gets out and runs in transition.

The last component of Lamine Diane’s game we should discuss is his defense.

There are certainly occasions during a game when Diane falls asleep on D or seems to get lazy. But, it is just the appearance of laziness as he’ll spring out of nowhere to make a huge block or a steal after cutting off a passing lane.

He is allowed to float a bit on defense given the lack of premier scorers the Big West has, so he’ll need to stay focused once he moves to professional ball. He won’t be able to sag off his defender as much as he currently does.

Still, there’s a reason for his high steal and block numbers. He is one of 15 players (minimum of 10 GP) with above a 3.0 STL% and a 6.0 BLK%. What is even more impressive is this stat:

Lamine Diane is the ONLY player in the NCAA currently averaging above 2 steals and 2 blocks per game. Matisse Thybulle was the only player to do it last year.

With regard to comparisons to Diane, you have to think of great college players who are highly active on both ends. Devontae Cacok is one player that comes to mind as someone more recent. Cacok is still working his way up from the G League and trying to make a name for himself with the Lakers. That is a similar path to the one Lamine will more than likely be taking.

In a draft where there is so much uncertainty, a team should 100% take a flyer on a player like Lamine Diane. Sure, he will have to work on his defensive fundamentals and will have to continue to put on more muscle, but there may not be a player you’ll be more excited to have on your team if he can figure out those limitations.

Cal State Northridge has a chance to win the Big West now that he has returned and if they can make their way to the NCAA Tournament, Lamine Diane will be able to finally show NBA scouts what he is fully capable of on the biggest stage of his collegiate career.

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