Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Almost immediately after Cartier Diarra announced that he would be transferring to Virginia Tech, news broke that Diarra would leave the NBA option open and submit his name for eligibility for the 2020 NBA Draft prior to the early entry deadline.
Now, the NBA has released the list of players who have made themselves eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft with one notable exception for Hokie fans.
Unless it was oversight, it looks like #Hokies incoming transfer Cartier Diarra has decided not to continue pursuing the NBA Draft and officially be on his way to Virginia Tech. Great news for VT https://t.co/N4gqQZ6ST0— The Tech Lunch Pail (@techlunchpaild) April 29, 2020
Cartier Diarra's name was not included on the list of more than 160 underclassmen college basketball players with Virginia Tech confirming that Diarra has chosen not to submit his name for early entry consideration for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Even if Diarra had submitted his name, it would not be a final decision as all of those players have till early June to make a final decision on whether to stay in college basketball or leave for the NBA. However, this does close the NBA door on any player who is not on the early entry list.
From the get go, it was extremely likely that Diarra would return for his final season of college basketball and play at Virginia Tech, but there was no doubt that the Hokies were likely in wait-and-see mode. However, with this settled, the Hokies now have one of their key pieces for a 2020-21 team that will likely have its sights set on at least reaching the NIT next year with a goal of reaching a fourth-straight contested NCAA Tournament.
Diarra will definitely be a key player for the Hokies' success on both ends of the floor this upcoming season after averaging 13.3 points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in 31.3 minutes per game for Kansas State this past season. Mike Young unsurprisingly agreed with that assessment largely because Diarra has already proven himself in the Big 12.
"Cartier Diarra, the grad transfer from Kansas State, has done it in that league (Big 12), has been a very good player in that league," Young said.
The Hokies will need Diarra to become more efficient from beyond the arc after shooting just over 30% this past season and better at protecting the basketball as he averaged 3.2 turnovers per game during the 2019-20 season. Tech's current roster makeup could help with that given how the Hokies have plenty of outside shooters and that Diarra won't have to run the show too much with VT having Wabissa Bede at the point.
With Diarra officially headed to Blacksburg, Virginia Tech's roster for the 2020-21 season is just about set though the Hokies remain one scholarship player over the limit. However, Mike Young did say this past Monday that there will be news on a player leaving on-court action for Virginia Tech basketball in the next couple of weeks.