When Boubacar “Bouki” Diakite learned of the mutual interest between he and Weber State basketball, he said he instantly felt WSU was where his basketball career would continue.
But Tuesday, Feb. 26, when the former four-star recruit who began his career at St. John’s was heading into surgery to repair a torn ACL he suffered a few weeks ago, he decided to make it official with WSU head coach Randy Rahe.
“When I got out of surgery and everything was good, (Rahe) was texting me to see how everything went. I told him I had some good news for him and wanted him to give me a call,” Diakite told the Standard-Examiner on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-8 freshman at Iowa Western Community College told Rahe he wanted to be a Weber State Wildcat, where he’ll be eligible next season.
“He started yelling on the phone and was so happy. It felt good. I could feel the joy through the phone,” Diakite said.
Diakite is a native of the West African country of Mali but has lived in the United States for six years, attending high school on Long Island, New York. His averages of 19 points and nine rebounds per contest caught the eye of head coach Chris Mullin at nearby St. John’s.
He redshirted and said he didn’t feel he fit in or had a role there, and eventually landed at Iowa Western to reset his Division-I recruitment.
“I wanted to be part of something that I could help build up,” Diakite said. “I want to help a team be somewhere they’ve never been ... and part of something where I’m really needed.”
He had interest from dozens of schools, including Loyola-Chicago and East Carolina, but liked the appeal of Weber State. WSU assistant Eric Duft once coached with Iowa Western head coach Michael Johnette and the two staffs have a good rapport.
Diakite said he already knew of Weber State because he’s a “big fan” of Damian Lillard and, as soon as he spoke with Rahe and assistant David Marek, he “knew that’s the spot.”
“They have everything I’m looking for. Even after I got hurt, they were still highly interested. They showed me something I didn’t see from others. Other people were highly interested but what Weber State has is how I fit in, it’s like a family code. I feel like I’m going home, that’s how good I feel about it.”
Diakite watched tape of how Weber State plays and said it helped cement his decision as a place he can use his athleticism and skills in an up-tempo, pick-and-pop offense.
The 20-year-old has a cousin in the U.S. but otherwise, his mother and three of his siblings still live in Mali. So while his goals at Weber State are to help his team get to the NCAA Tournament, he doesn’t shy away from stating his career aspirations.
“It’s really tough being away from my family but also it’s a big motivation. You start working out to be able to make it to the next level then you might be able to bring them to the states or be with them,” he said. “Whatever I’m doing is for my family.”
Diakite shot 49 percent from the field and 40.9 from the 3-point line in 11 games for Iowa Western, topping out in a 16-point, six-rebound performance in nine minutes on Jan. 12.
The recovery timeline for his injury is four to six months, which would have him ready to play next season. Diakite will be a sophomore with three years to play three seasons and said he plans to study either criminal justice or business administration. He said he wants to arrive at Weber State to continue his rehab as soon as his current semester is over in May.