OGDEN — There are several X-factors who will determine the success of Weber State men's basketball in the 2019-20 season.
Many of them are freshmen becoming sophomores. What kind of jumps will players like Israel Barnes, Caleb Nero, Donatas Kupsas and Dima Zdor make?
There's another sophomore who is a relative unknown but, if things go as planned, would be a valuable two-way player for the Wildcats.
Boubacar "Bouki" Diakite, a native of Mali, lived in New York for seven years. The 6-foot-7 forward attended high school on Long Island, where he averaged 19 points and nine rebounds per game as a senior, then committed to play for St. John's in the Big East.
He redshirted at St. John's and said he didn't find a fit there, so he reset his recruiting by moving to Iowa Western Community College for his freshman season.
As soon as his semester ended at IWCC, Diakite settled into his new home in Ogden in the spring, just weeks after his late-February commitment to Weber State.
Other than a team retreat to Bear Lake and checking out Ogden's Chinese restaurants with Jerrick Harding and Kham Davis, it's been all training and basketball for Diakite, who is back to full participation after ACL surgery in February.
"I’m happy to be here. Great team, great teammates, great coaching staff," Diakite said. "They have a good rehab program, treatment program that’s been helping me a lot. I’m full-go now, so I’ve been doing five-on-five, stuff like that. Everything’s been great so far and I’m loving it."
He's had a few months to digest his decision to move far away from familiar New York or the plains of Iowa.
"I feel like it’s one of the best decisions I've ever made," he said. "I’m really happy about it. It was the right decision. I like coach (Randy) Rahe, the way he’s honest and sincere, and the way he keeps us accountable."
Diakite figures to play a role, at least rotationally, at the four-position for Weber State, with ample athleticism and some skill in stretching the floor. As a freshman it Iowa Western Community College, he shot 41% from the 3-point line.
With injuries behind him, Diakite feels ready to be a major contributor as a Division I basketball player.
"I have some stuff that I’m ready to give," he said. "In the next couple weeks, I’ll be able to do everything and play as the player I am. I’m ready to help my team, play my role, be there for them, get rebounds, block shots, steals, whatever I’ve got to do to make my team a better team and win this whole thing, I’m going to do it."
Weber State continues training camp ahead of the 2019-20 season, which begins with an exhibition game on Nov. 2.