Normally, Cheick Diallo's home games are exclusive affairs in the tiny gymnasium on the campus of Our Savior New American in Centereach. But Diallo made himself right at home and put on a show for local fans Friday night at Barclays Center during the Jordan Brand Classic high school all-star game.
Diallo was one of only three uncommitted players in the game, and you can believe the St. John's fans in the crowd, not to mention the Red Storm recruiters, were dreaming of how he might look in SJU red. New coach Chris Mullin reportedly has an in-home visit scheduled with Diallo on Saturday before flying to Louisiana to meet with Red Storm recruit Brandon Sampson.
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St. John's has competition from Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and Pittsburgh. Diallo gave them an eyeful in a brilliant performance, scoring 26 points, shooting 12-for-16, grabbing 11 rebounds and adding two steals, one assist and one block in 20 minutes.
Easily the most dominant player on the court, Diallo added the East team MVP award to the MVP he won earlier at the McDonald's All-American game in Chicago. "My first time here, I was struggling a lot," said Diallo, who has played basketball only five years and has been in the United States since 2012. "But I think I'm good now.
"I'm so excited because the MVP award is a different thing. I always thank my teammates because they are passing me the ball. Thank you [Isaiah] Briscoe. Briscoe gave me a lot of buckets."
Briscoe, of Roselle Catholic in New Jersey, had 22 points, six rebounds and six assists. He was one of three players in the game committed to Kentucky, along with Skal Labissiere (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Charles Matthews.
Labissiere and Diallo have known each other for three years and both speak French, which may be a reason for Diallo to give heavy consideration to Kentucky.
"All they do is speak French together," Briscoe said of Diallo and Labissiere. "I would like for Cheick to come to Kentucky. That would be good. Skal, Charles, me and Cheick, that's a great class."
Diallo made it clear after the game that he would not answer any questions about his impending college decision. But he enjoyed the support he received from more than 300 friends from OSNA, and that might be a reason for him to stay close at St. John's.
"There were a lot of fans here," Diallo said. "I am so excited to be in New York. That's where I live."