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Colorado men’s basketball adds to ’23 recruiting class with Denver big man Assane Diop

Assane Diop, a 6-foot-10 forward, as committed to the Colorado Buffaloes.  (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
Assane Diop, a 6-foot-10 forward, as committed to the Colorado Buffaloes. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
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It was a jam-packed week of news for the Colorado men’s basketball team. And it was only the opening week.

Since the Buffaloes began the season with a win against UC Riverside, fans have celebrated the signing of a top-25 prospect in Cody Williams, endured an ugly loss, and watched a dramatic lineup shakeup lead to a big-time victory away from home. Oh yeah, and CU’s KJ Simpson won the season’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week award.

On Tuesday, the headlines kept coming.

The Buffs added to the excitement they have built on the recruiting trail by securing the commitment of Denver big man Assane Diop, who announced his decision on Tuesday afternoon during a press conference in Lakewood. The addition of Diop, who signed his national letter of intent to join CU in 2023, also left head coach Tad Boyle, now in his 13th season at CU, in a unique position regarding the construction of his roster.

The 6-foot-10 Diop is listed as a three-star prospect by 247Sports but is a four-star in the 247Sports composite rankings. His weight is unclear — 247Sports has Diop listed at 210, while a release sent late last week on the behalf of his club, Accelerated Prep, lists Diop at 190. On Tuesday, CU listed Diop at 200 pounds. Regardless, his commitment adds to a 2023 class that should make a heavy impact immediately at CU. 247Sports has Diop ranked as the No. 2 recruit in Colorado and No. 132 nationally.

“Really excited about Assane Diop,” Boyle said in a CU press release. “He’s a terrific young man. First of all, great personality, and he’s going to be a great teammate. But he’s a guy that plays extremely hard; he’s got a huge ceiling. Great skill set for a big guy. You know, he’s really not an interior guy. He’s really not a big. In today’s game of positional basketball, he fits in really, really well because he can he can run the floor, he can block shots, dribble a ball, he’s becoming a better shooter and a good defender. He plays with such energy and such effort. He’s such a great teammate. He’s going to be a great addition to our program and he’s going to be a great Buff.”

Diop’s commitment arrives six days after the Buffs landed Williams, the brother of the 12th pick in this year’s NBA draft, Jalen Williams, and the No. 21 prospect in the nation, per 247Sports. The Buffs also landed 6-foot-5 Courtney Anderson Jr., an athletic combo guard out of the Bay Area whose father is a former NFL tight end. CU’s 2023 class now ranks No. 13 nationally, per 247Sports, and No. 19 at Rivals.com.

“(This class) has a little bit of everything,” Boyle said. “Great size, great length, great skill, great athleticism; three guys who are going to help make this program a lot better and we’re extremely excited.”

Diop moved to Denver from Senegal in 2019, but his decision to join the Buffs continues Boyle’s habit of targeting top Colorado recruits. Since he took over before the 2010-11 season, the list of Boyle’s Colorado recruits has grown to include Sabatino Chen (a transfer from Denver), Josh Scott, Xavier Talton, Wesley Gordon, Dominique Collier, Derrick White (a transfer from UCCS), Dallas Walton, D’Shawn Schwartz, Daylen Kountz (who later transferred to Northern Colorado), Nique Clifford, Luke O’Brien and Julian Hammond III.

Diop spent one season at Class 1A Belleview Christian before focusing on the club circuit, first at the Denver Prep Academy and then at Accelerated Prep.

The signing of three players, however, charts new territory for Boyle as, on paper, the Buffs have 14 scholarship players projected for next season, one over the NCAA limit. CU is adding a trio with only two players, graduate transfers Jalen Gabbidon and Ethan Wright, set to exhaust their eligibility this year.

Over-signing certainly is nothing new in college basketball, but it is a first for Boyle. In order for Williams, Anderson and Diop to all suit up for the Buffs next season, at least one underclassman from the current roster will have to move on.

Boyle simply could be playing the percentages, given the prevalence of the transfer portal and even the trend within his own program. Other than 2021, the Buffs have lost at least one underclassman every spring since 2013. That includes Jabari Walker (NBA draft) and Keeshawn Barthelemy (transfer to Oregon) leaving the Buffs last spring.

In the spring of 2020, Kountz and Jakub Dombek left the program. Prior to that it was Deleon Brown (academics/transfer) in 2019; Laz Nikolic (return to Serbia) in 2018; Thomas Akyazili (return to Belgium) in 2018; Bryce Peters in 2017; Tre’Shaun Fletcher (transfer to Toledo) and Kenan Guzonjic in 2016; Dustin Thomas (transfer to Arkansas) and Jaron Hopkins (transfer to Fresno State) in 2015; Spencer Dinwiddie (NBA draft) in 2014; and Jeremy Adams (transfer to Grand Canyon) and Andre Roberson (NBA draft) in 2013.

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