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The commitments of Cody Williams and Assane Diop to Boulder and head coach Tad Boyle have Colorado’s basketball program riding a massive wave of momentum.
Even with the 2022-2023 team’s inconsistency so far, it’s tantalizing to imagine how all these pieces are going to fit together for 2023-2024.
Duvalier “Dev” Johnson, Content Specialist for Prep Hoods, has offered his analysis and insight to break down exactly what CU is getting from Cody Williams and Assane Diop.
Jake: What kind of player is Assane Diop right now?
Dev: Assane Diop checks off every single box that you want in a basketball player. He is a smooth and agile 6’10 player that puts the team first and truly loves the game. He is capable of stepping out and knocking down the 3-ball, is an athletic defender and is an excellent passer. You don’t typically get playmakers at 6’10 that you can put the ball in their hands and they can make things happen and that is what separates Diop. He uses his long and slender frame to defend positions 1 through 4 and he moves his feet well to stay in front of defenders. Diop is an intriguing athlete with the right tools and he is going to benefit greatly from a program that allows players with his size to explore his game a bit.
Jake: What about Cody Williams?
Dev: In Cody Williams, Colorado is getting a humble competitor and winner. Williams led Perry to their 1st state championship. He is a balanced player that has all of the tools and with his size and ability to take over, Colorado is getting a player that they will be able to run an offense through. Williams is a hard worker that competes at a high level and is able to knock down the 3-ball but also gets into the open court to show off his athleticism.
He has the tools to be an elite defender who can stay in front of his defender, can guard multiple positions, and challenges himself on that end of the floor. What you don’t see in the stat books but really pops is that you can tell that Williams is big on family as he spoke about the connectedness and togetherness of the Colorado men’s basketball team and he wants to add and build on that culture. Colorado getting their first 5-star recruit that truly seems to be into what it is they are building is a tell-tale sign of great things to come. The future looks bright in Boulder.
Jake: What is the ceiling for Cody Williams?
Dev: The ceiling for Williams is a Pac-12 All-Freshman team member that comes in with high expectations and contributes from the very beginning. The opportunity will be there for him to prove himself. It’s about taking advantage. Williams’ ability to have the ball in his hands and create while also being active off the ball will allow Tad Boyle to be creative with him. I expect to see the offense run through him and him to even play guard a ton.
Many believe that Williams is a player that will do a year at Colorado and then head to the NBA to fulfill his dream. I believe that he will love Boulder, get stronger and more mature, and return for a second year while being a 1st Team All-Conference player during his sophomore season and bring in other high-rated recruits. I believe that Williams is a player that can alter the program.
Jake: What’s the ceiling for Assane Diop?
Dev: I would not necessarily call Diop a project because he is not only capable of playing as a freshman but helping the Buffs win some games. But, I do believe that expectations should be tempered early on. Diop is still learning the game and adding a ton to his arsenal. Every single time that I have watched him he has added a new piece to his game but what stands out is his eye-catching plays.
To have that length and size and be able to put the ball on the floor while also possessing that sort of court vision while competing on the other end of the floor will have him vying for minutes. I believe that he still has a ton to learn and it will be about knowing and understanding the game in his first year at Colorado but once he realizes just how good he truly is and adds some strength and weight to his body, the sky is the limit for him.
Jake: Can Diop play “point-forward” or become a primary offensive option for CU as early as next year?
Dev: At Belleview Christian, Assane was one of the best players in the state of Colorado and he was only a sophomore. He is the CHSAA record holder for quadruple doubles and he also entered the state record books for triple-doubles in one year. The game plan was simple, “give Assane the ball and watch great things happen.” Diop was able to rack up assists as one of the most unselfish stars that we have seen and also was able to score whenever it is he wanted.
While playing at his prep schools, he was able to show how talented he was with other capable players around him as well. He put on a bit of muscle and still was the team’s primary ballhandler at times with other big men in the line-up. He was a high-low passer that started on the blocks and created in space. At 6’10, he has the ability to see the floor, sets guys up for easy baskets and can pass out of double-teams.
Diop is certainly a point-forward and with most teams converting to the style of grabbing the rebound and getting out and running, he would be one of the best options as a player that could start the break from whichever spot he is at. Also, being able to defend multiple positions gives him the opportunity to play with different lineups and I think he seldomly is the big man in any lineup, if ever.
Jake: What else should we know about Cody Williams’ recruitment?
Dev: Williams is the type of heavy-hitter that Colorado has been trying to get for a while. Typically these kinds of players de-commit. But I feel differently about him. I feel as if he is the perfect Colorado player and he will have a successful tenure. Williams seems to really want to get better. He plays with joy. The freedom that he played with while competing against some of the country’s best players and his ability to go directly at them stands out and is going to be a welcomed addition to this young Colorado team that is missing a guy with that “it” factor. He can be that. I think with Williams being able to play the wing, as well as guard, will have him on the floor more, I do think that he starts as a freshman and once he is introduced to the lineup he will not look back. Williams has what it takes.
Jake: What is the ceiling of this recruiting class?
Dev: This class could be the one that gets Colorado over the hump. They have gotten close with top prospects before but not many have committed and stayed. Now, having a 5-star, 4-star and 3-star shows other recruits that this program is for real. This could be the one that starts allowing other players to want to come and be a part of something special. This could be the one that helps Colorado become a school that competes in the Pac-12, gets players to go play at the next level and is a serious program that is committed to getting players better. This is a class that could win the Pac-12 and get closer to a title. I do think that there will have to be other pieces as well and they will have to land some of the coming classes, but this could be the one that gets them there. I am not sure about national title odds changing, but better and closer to that sort of team.
Jake: What stands out about Williams’ game when you watch him in high school? Assane Diop?
Dev: What stands out for Williams is how well he played as Section 7. Everyone heard of a skinny and athletic guard from AZ that was dominating game after game and college coaches were highly impressed. Yes, it helped that his brother was a Division 1 athlete as well who just had an incredible season but to see Cody have a great showing and then take over against the likes of Bronny James in a highly anticipated game as well where he put up a stat line of 23-10-3 helped his stock. Williams is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He finishes above the rim, gets downhill and is a willing passer. He shows up in big games and has had plenty of them under his belt already which will have him ready for whatever is thrown his way at Colorado.
For Assane, the 1A state championship game is what stands out most for me. These are the two best teams in 1A competing for a chance to win it all. Going to be a good game, right? Wrong. Diop could’ve won the game himself. It was in fact a state record for the largest deficit ever in a championship game. The state heard about all of these video-game-like numbers but did not see them in person. Assane finished with an insane stat line. 22 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists and 5 blocks. That is while sitting for the entire 4th quarter. Diop led the Bruins to a 16-0 record and it was the willingness to pass despite literally being able to score every single time down that makes him such an elite player. Colorado got them a special player.