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UVA’s Mamadi Diakite named to Naismith Trophy watch list

UVA senior Mamadi Diakite (Conakry, Guinea) was one of 50 players named to the watch list for the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year honor announced Monday.

A list of the midseason 30 team will be released in early February, followed by the 10 national semifinalists and four finalists on March 5, 2020, and March 17, 2020, respectively. The 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy will be awarded in the hometown of the Atlanta Tipoff Club during the Final Four at the Naismith Awards Brunch on April 5, 2020.

Diakite averaged 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots as a redshirt junior in 2018-19. He hit the game-tying jumper at the end of regulation against Purdue in the NCAA Elite Eight, earning All-South Regional team honors. Diakite blocked a career high five shots in the Final Four semifinal win over Auburn and averaged 10.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots in the NCAA Tournament for the national champion Cavaliers. He is a preseason All-ACC first-team selection and member of the Karl Malone Award watch list for the nation’s top power forward.

Overall, the SEC tops the list with nine players represented, while the Big Ten and ACC are close runners-up with eight and seven candidates on the watch list, respectively. Seven schools lead the watch list with two players apiece, including Duke, which has won more Citizen Naismith Trophies (8) than any other school with the addition of last year’s winner, Zion Williamson.

Additional schools with two players represented include Davidson, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Michigan State. The 2019 Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Player of the Year award winner, Isaiah Stewart, now a freshman at the University of Washington, also made this year’s college watch list. Players who do not make the watch list are still eligible to be selected for the midseason 30 team.