Fresno State freshman Assane Diouf, a 7-foot-1 center who reclassified into the 2018 recruiting class from 2019 to sign with the Bulldogs, will redshirt this season after an eligibility appeal to the NCAA was denied.
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“He knew that (was a possibility) coming in,” coach Justin Hutson said. “But he’s going to get a chance to get ahead academically and work on his body and continue to get in shape, and then he’ll have four years to play.”
Diouf will be able to receive financial aid and practice with the team, but the Bulldogs this season will lack depth at the center and forward positions. Fresno State has Nate Grimes and Sam Bittner returning along with Laz Rojas, who played a total of 17 minutes last season during eight games. Hutson also has Christian Gray, a 6-6 freshman forward, and 6-7 freshman Aguir Agau also could play minutes at the power forward spot.
With or without Diouf, the Bulldogs’ strength will be in the backcourt with Deshon Taylor, a first-team All-Mountain West selection, back for his senior season along with transfers Noah Blackwell (Long Beach State)and Braxton Huggins (New Mexico State).
Taylor last season ranked fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game. He also was third in steals (1.5 pg) and fifth in free throw percentage (83.3), getting to the line 240 times.
“The backcourt has a chance to be good,” Hutson said. “If we keep learning how to play together, we have some talent in the backcourt. We’re trying to get a feel for each other and how we’re trying to play. We’re trying to play a little faster. We’re going to try to get up and down and get good shots.”