Gorgui Dieng figures to be a first-round pick, but with the way he's shown his offensive development thus far in the NCAA Tournament, he could find himself climbing into the top 20 -- or higher.
Dieng is obviously a defensive presence, and he showed that Sunday against Duke, spiking several of the Blue Devils' shots out of play early. But the 6'11 center with arms that span several counties has also been a highly effective option for Louisville out of offense sparked by Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. The Cardinals used Dieng over and over as a screener with their lightning-quick guards triggering the action, and Dieng filled his role effectively: he drew a bunch of fouls, finished around the rim when given the opportunity and even stepped back to hit an 18-footer.
The 23-year-old from Senegal will never be an offensive-minded center. There's no sign he has any sort of post play, and although he shot 68 percent from the line this year, he can still have days like his 2-for-8 outing from the line Sunday. But there's no doubt he's been efficient: his 14 points on eight shots means that he's now 20-for-24 from the field in the tournament, averaging 11 points per game. And the defense is still there, as he blocked three shots and grabbed 11 boards against the Blue Devils. He looks like an ideal backup center or perhaps a starter for a team with go-to scorers at guard spots.
On the other side, Mason Plumlee was arguably Duke's best player: he finished with 17 points and 12 boards, but with Ryan Kelly in foul trouble and Duke's guards failing to connect on anything, he didn't have enough help. He looked a little bit tentative providing help defense off of the pick-and-roll, but he showed his strength and finishing ability around the basket. For what it's worth, Plumlee did embarrass Dieng a little bit by finishing an alley-oop over him in the first half, but it was more the battle than the war.
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