and the Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.)
basketball program demonstrated this week that they know how to execute successfully off the court, too.Andrew Magnotta of the New Jersey Herald
reported Thursday that the school – spurred on by head basketball coach Jason Hasson and Diagne – collected and shipped over 3,000 pairs of shoes weighing over a ton to the African nation of Senegal.
Diagne, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound native of Senegal regarded as a Top 25 prospect in the 2015 class by 247Sports.com
, was the catalyst.
"After the season I was thinking about how to help the people in my hometown and my school," Diagne told the Herald.
According to Magnotta, another blue chip recruit made a major impact on the shoe drive – Cincinnati-bound freshman Jermaine Lawrence
. The new Bearcat missed 12 games for Pope John XXIII last season but returned to help the program go 13-3 down the stretch.
In Lawrence's absence, Diagne's role increased and he took advantage. Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon State and Penn State are among the programs to extend scholarship offers.
Diagne's home country has become a hotbed for hoops talent. Successful programs like the SEEDS Academy and the Dieda Academy have helped dozens of Senegalese prospects make the transition to American schools in recent years.