After moving to Virginia from Guinea in January, Mamadi Diakite quickly made an impact on the Blue Ridge basketball team. The sophomore averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 blocks in the ten games he played in his first season.
Diakite's impressive numbers show how well he adapted to the style of play in Virginia, but he also adapted quickly to the lifestyle.
"My first impression was the people around me, like the teachers and my guys on the team," he says. "They were really good."
According to Diakite, the two best parts of his life at Blue Ridge are the people and the school itself. The sophomore says he enjoys studying and going to school, so much that he actually missed it during the Barons' spring break.
This spring and summer, Diakite will travel around the country playing in tournaments with his Boo Williams AAU team. In the fall, he plans to join another team at Blue Ridge.
"I'm a good soccer player," he says. "My schedule is really busy but I try sometimes, like on the weekend, I try to play with some soccer players."
The Barons big man stands at 6'10" and growing, and will likely be the tallest midfielder in Virginia. But it's heights he's reaching in other places that are even more impressive.
"I was hoping he would do track, and I guess other people after they saw him jump maybe talked to him about track," says Blue Ridge track and field coach Jerry Jared.
Diakite had never tried track before, but within the first days of attempting high jump, he tied the school record at 6-feet-5-inches.
In mid-April he broke the record, jumping 6-feet-6-inches at a meet at William Monroe. While Diakite was excited about his record, he says everyone else at the meet was even more excited.
"They wanted to shake my hand and ask me about my name, many things about my name, where I come from."
"A school record doesn't happen every year," adds Jared. "It doesn't happen every two or three years. To see all of the kids that were at the meet get excited about that, as he goes higher and higher and the 'oohs' and the 'ahhs,' it's really special."