Cleveland Cavaliers president Koby Altman on Friday said draft pick Khalifa Diop will not be with the organization next season and will remain in the Spanish League.
Diop, who was born in Senegal, was selected with the 39th pick on Thursday after playing last season with Gran Canaria in Spain. He was named the EuroCup Rising Star after averaging 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds on 62.1% shooting from the field in 54 games.
The 7-foot-1 center emerged as a standout on the defensive end of the floor with his ability to protect the paint and switch onto smaller players. However, he is still viewed as a bit of a raw prospect, thus the reason for keeping him in the Liga ACB.
Altman said special advisor Jose Calderon will monitor him in Spain.
“It’s a great league for his development, and if it’s the right team, he’ll also play against other teams from other countries,” Altman said, via Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal. “Hopefully, the team he will play for will be EuroLeague level even though it’s in the Spanish League. Jose will make sure he’s well taken care of.”
Diop, 20, said he has dreams of eventually playing in the NBA and is working diligently to develop his game. He studies up on film of Bam Adebayo, Clint Capela and Joel Embiid among others, and looks to take things from each of their games.
With another season in Spain, Diop and the Cavaliers will be hoping that he will be ready to make the jump to the NBA. He can do quite a bit on the court at his size and projects to check a lot of boxes for the Cavaliers when that time comes.
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