MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team added three more players to its 2014 class on Monday as they signed National Letters of Intent, coach Richard Pitino announced.
Minnesota has added forwards Gaston Diedhiou and Bakary Konate as well as guard Zach Lofton. Diedhiou and Konate will join the team for the start of the 2014-15 season, while Lofton will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Lofton, who was a prep star locally at Columbia Heights, comes to the Gophers from Illinois State.
Diedhiou is a 6 foot, 9 inch forward out of Senegal who most recently played at the Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain.
Konate is a 6 foot, 11 inch center originally from Mali who attended Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan. Pitino said he can serve as a shot blocker but also has the ability to shoot from the outside and rebound.
“Bakary has tremendous potential. The sky is the limit for him,” Pitino said. “He’s a great athlete and shot blocker which is vital in our system. His best days of basketball are certainly ahead of him.”
Lofton, a 6 foot, 4 inch guard who is a native of St. Paul, averaged 11.3 points and three rebounds per game at Illinois State last season. As a senior, Lofton averaged nearly 30 points per game to lead Columbia Heights to the Class 3A state title game.
Konate, Diedhiou and Lofton join a class already consisted of guards Carlos Morris, Nate Mason and forward Josh Martin. The Gophers will have four starters returning from a squad that won 25 games and an NIT title in Pitino’s first season as head coach.