Posted On: 05/9/18 10:22 AM
DME Academy’s Mame Diaw Niang will announce his college decision on Thursday afternoon.
Niang will decide between Florida Atlantic University and Coastal Carolina. He whittled down a list which included offers from Wyoming, Florida International, Oregon State, Stetson, Long Beach State, and several others.
During Niang’s first-ever performance on United States soil, the wiry 6-foot-9 forward showed flashes of potential.
This was back in November of 2016, during the Charlotte Basketball Challenge.
While he took a few errant shots and though he looked out of sync at times, the promise was certainly there.
Fast forward a year and nearly six months.
Polished, versatile, and capable of guarding multiple positions, Niang has undergone a rapid transformation.
Leaning on an arsenal of smooth up and under moves, a nifty floater, and a reliable knockdown game from outside, Niang expanded his offensive tool-set as a senior.
A killer instinct, which he so lacked as a junior, suddenly materialized within him.
He went from being a fourth option at The Conrad School in Orlando as a junior to a featured piece at DME this season.
Partly at coach Dan Mondragon’s urging and partly at the growing confidence he’s now stoked with, Niang rose to take leadership matters into his own hands.
This much was evident during a win against Downey Christian, which saw Niang score 33 points and tore down 14 boards.
Niang had several 30+ point games this past season, including a 33-point eruption at the now-defunct Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville.
“(Niang) stepped up to the challenge of being our No.1 guy offensively,” said DME head coach Dan Mondragon. “He was able to put some confidence behind the skill-set he already had. He became not only our go-to guy but our best rebounder. He became a guy who could give you 14 and 10 nightly.”
Niang turned in an efficient account of himself recently, with 15 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) and 11 boards in 23 minutes during a performance on the Adidas Gauntlet.
If Niang’s game was a stock, now would be the most ideal time to buy it.
DME Academy’s devotion to player development and how they utilized Niang spurred his evolution.
At the aforementioned Conrad School, Niang was getting limited touches behind ball-dominant scorers such as Arizona State-bound guard Luguentz Dort. With a more stabilized system and more time to develop all categories of his game, Niang flourished in the alpha dog role.
DME gave him the freedom to put in the unrequired work on his shot, his ball handling, and work on exploiting mismatches. As a mobile 6-foot-9 forward, he can take slower interior defenders off the dribble. He also utilizes his size in backing smaller defenders and guards into the post.
“His versatility is his biggest asset, most of the coaches who recruited him love the overall skill that he brings,” said Mondragon, who cited Niang’s performance against a talented Woodstock Academy team as a turning point in his recruitment.
With his prep career in the rearview, Niang will announce on his future hardwood home.
Conventional wisdom tells us Florida Atlantic is a no-brainer. Niang’s family lives just 10 minutes from the sprawling campus in Boca Raton.
New head coach Dusty May and staff have been prioritizing Niang since they supplanted Michael Curry and company back in late March.
Coastal Carolina, on the other hand, has been very aggressive and consistent in the recruitment of Niang.
During his recent visit, the coaching staff made it clear the lofty expectations they have for him should he sign.
They envision him as potentially a Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and eventually a first team all-conference selection.
It would be difficult to turn down the opportunity to become an instant linchpin and get the ball from the very start, although FAU pretty much offers a similar situation.
Harkening back on the analogy of purchasing a good stock in Niang, his ascension over the last year identifies his upside.
He only played about 10 games at The Conrad School, as the program shut down unexpectedly while crumbling under a financial firestorm.
Technically, he only played one full year of high school basketball and had a short window to get noticed. Niang’s blend of strength, activeness on the glass, and multi-dimensional play on both sides of the ball propelled him to first team All-State in Florida’s traditionally potent SIAA.