Former Cape Fear Christian Academy athlete Cheikh Bamba Diallo, better known as C.B., has returned to his native country, Senegal, to play in the new Basketball Africa League.
The league was a project developed by the late David Stern, former NBA commissioner. It is a joint effort between the NBA and FIBA (International Basketball Federation) with sponsorship from the Jordan Brand and Pepsi.
Diallo played a portion of his junior season and his full senior year at CFCA, where he was hosted by the family of Yale and Tammy Moran. Diallo averaged 14.4 points for an 18-13 CFCA team in 2014-15.
He went on to play for Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas, averaging 9.6 points and 24 minutes in 59 career games. Diallo completed his college career at American University in Washington, D.C. He started 21 games as a junior and averaged 5.3 points.
Diallo is a 6-feet, 3-inch combo guard.
Graduating from American with a Business Administration degree, Diallo signed with an agent and went to several NBA G League draft camps. He returned to the Moran family and worked on his game while helping out at CFCA.
“I’ve been like a member of the family since I stepped foot in their house,” Diallo said of the Morans. “It’s really been a blessing. They are people who really care about me and helped me stay focused.”
He received a phone call in late February that he had been selected to play for Dakar in the new league. That followed a draft camp in Brooklyn in December.
Dakar is the largest city in Senegal, a former French colony. The population of the metropolitan Dakar area is over two million.
Diallo played for SEED Academy in Thies, Senegal, before coming to the United States. A program called Basketball Without Borders also contributed to his development, allowing him to play in South Africa.
His parents, Lamine (dad) and Mbacke (Mom) raised eight children in Thies and still reside there. Thies is about three hours from Dakar.
Diallo has a twin brother, Alioune, who has been playing in a pro league in Tampa, Fla.
CFCA recognized Diallo in chapel on Wednesday and there was excitement throughout the school about his pro contract.
“That was really special for me,” he said.
Diallo also played soccer and baseball at CFCA. He began playing soccer at age five in Senegal but baseball was something he learned upon arriving in the USA. He played third base for the Eagles and hit a triple in his first game. He was all-conference in soccer.
“It is not often that you encounter a student that is truly coachable,” said Karen Parker, CFCA head of school. “C.B. is a student that is willing to actively listen, and diligently work with coaches, faculty and adults in his life to pursue a great plan of short-term and long-term goals.
“He is student that understands that immediate gratification is short-sighted. … He is the embodiment of everything that you would want in a student.
“I am incredibly proud of his achievements, and look forward to watching God work in his life.”
English is Diallo’s third language. He spoke Wolof, his native tongue, and French before coming to the USA.
His transition to basketball began around age eight as he began following his older brothers to the local gym. Diallo has played for the under-19 national team in Senegal. His last visit to his home country was in the summer of 2018.
The Dakar team will be coached by Birahme Geuye, a former Senegal national team player. Dakar plays the first game in the new league at home on March 13.
“It’s really exciting to be able to see my family again,” said Diallo, who flew home Friday. “To play in front of my home country people, it’s really exciting.”
Since being drafted by Dakar, Diallo has received interest from the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors for their summer league teams.