Louisville center Gorgui Dieng will enter the NBA draft, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino tells Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Dieng, the 6'11" shot-blocking junior, is fresh off a three-block performance for the victorious Cardinals in the NCAA championship game. Pitino said about a month ago that Dieng would be leaving if he's projected to go in the first round, and he ranks No. 24 on Chad Ford's ESPN.com draft board and No. 18 on Jonathan Givony's list of prospects for DraftExpress.com.
Dieng averaged 9.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for the champs this year. He missed more than a month with a fractured bone in his left wrist, but his draft stock climbed from early-second-round status after he returned. He's a product of the SEEDS Academy, a development program in Senegal founded by Amadou Gallo Fall, a former Mavericks executive and current vice president of NBA development in Africa. Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors took an in-depth look earlier this season at Dieng and the effect of the SEEDS program.
He went scoreless in the national semifinals against Wichita State, but aside from his lack of offense, the most significant knock on Dieng could be his age, as he's already 23. That makes him significantly older than most of the underclassmen entering this year's draft.