The Fresno State Bulldogs basketball programs, the women and the men, opened practice for their 2018-19 seasons on Thursday in much different spots with their rosters.
The women have all five starters and 98.4 percent of their scoring back from a team that went 17-15 last season including senior guard Candice White, who led the Mountain West in scoring at 18.9 points per game.
The men have their top player back as well in senior guard Deshon Taylor, a first-team all-conference selection who was fifth in the MW in scoring at 17.8 points per game.
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But coach Justin Hutson, in his first season, still is waiting on word from the NCAA whether 7-foot-1 freshman center Assane Diouf will be eligible this season. Diouf, who reclassified from the Class of 2018 from ‘19 to get to Fresno State out of the DME Academy in Florida, is going through the NCAA clearinghouse.
“He’s still under review by the NCAA,” Hutson said. “They’re asking for stuff from earlier years and they’re reviewing it. They haven’t said no. He’s an academic redshirt right now, but he’s here. He’s a Bulldog; it’s just a matter if he’s going to play (this season).”
Diouf obviously is a big piece for the Bulldogs, who are short depth at the forward and center positions after Bryson Williams transferred to Texas-El Paso and Eric Vila opted to continue his career playing in Europe.
There is no timetable on a ruling from the NCAA, but as the Bulldogs get closer to the start of the season they will have to commit to playing with Diouf or without Diouf this season.
“Right now we haven’t really whittled it down,” Hutson said. “We’ll probably whittle it down as the next week comes and say, ‘OK, this is the group here.’ That part is not easy. But we’ve got it. I’m not worried about it.”
The Bulldogs have an exhibition game against Humboldt State on Nov. 2 and open the season against Alaska Anchorage on Nov. 6, both games at the Save Mart Center.
The women play Cal State Dominguez Hills in an exhibition on Nov. 2 and open the season on the road at Northern Arizona on Nov. 6.