The Wolfpacker

January-February 2024

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 34 of 51

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2024 ■ 35 BOARD CERTIFIED With His Penchant For Rebounding, Mohamed Diarra Has Been An Impactful Addition To NC State's Frontcourt Through 13 games, Diarra was leading the Wolfpack and was 10th in the ACC with an average of 6.9 rebounds per outing. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS G BY NOAH FLEISCHMAN rowing up in the Paris s u b u rb o f Mo n t re u i l , Mohamed Diarra did not gravitate toward basket- ball as a child. His sport of choice was soccer. Diarra spent the first 15 years of his life kicking around a ball, playing on various teams in France. But he towered over the other children his age, prompting Diarra's uncle to suggest that he try basketball. Although Diarra had dreamed of playing professional soccer in Europe, his tall frame seemed to make the other sport a more natural fit. Taking his uncle's advice, Diarra swapped his soc- cer cleats for high-tops and immediately started putting up shots. They weren't pretty at first, but Diarra's mindset flipped. Even though his talent was raw, he was determined to turn pro in basketball. The size and athleticism were there; he just had to refine his skills. "When I started playing basketball, people didn't think I was go- ing to make it," Diarra recalled. "I always said, 'I'm going to be a pro in basketball,' even when I was really bad. I don't play just for fun, I play for a reason. I want to make it as a pro and take care of my family." The former soccer player has parlayed his new sport into a college education. Diarra, a 6-foot-10 post player, moved to the United States in 2019 to attend the Redemption Christian prep school in New York before starting his collegiate career at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. It has been a winding road for Diarra, but after two juco seasons and a year at Missouri, he has been a force on the glass in his first campaign at NC State.

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