Mamadou Diarra, seated, is surrounded by his teammates and coach Tom Espinosa, right, made it official when he signed his National Letter of  Intent to attend UConn in September.  Diarra is anxious to play for coach Kevin Ollie and the Huskies. Courtesy photo.
By Ron P. Coderre
Mamadou Diarra, a young man who’s developed a love affair with northeastern Connecticut, seated in front of a bevy of cameras and John Holt of WFSB Channel 3 Hartford, flashed his pearly whites as he signed his National Letter of Intent, officially making him a University of Connecticut Husky.
Diarra, who is in his third season at Putnam Science Academy, has been a difference maker since arriving on the Maple St. campus.  He joined the Mustangs in mid-season two years ago and in limited action helped the team to reach its first National Prep School Championships.
The following year, Diarra, who was under the radar of big time programs, began drawing attention when he averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in 33 games.  The 6-foot, 9-inch big man from Queens, N.Y., led the 27-8 Mustangs to their second invitation to the National Prep School Championships.
“UConn has an outstanding program and a great coach.  I liked everything about the school when I visited.  I’m also happy that I’ll be close to Putnam and my home in Queens.  I think I can fit in immediately and get playing time,” said Diarra about his selection.
The UConn coaching staff has been bird-dogging Diarra for two years.  They are impressed with his work ethic and his character.  Projected as a power forward for the Huskies, they’re also impressed with his rebounding ability which continues to improve.
“I hope to someday help UConn to a National Championship.  Right now, this season my goal is to lead PSA to a National Championship.  Coach Espo has helped me to get where I am and I’d love to win a championship trophy for him,” said Diarra.
“Mamadou is our go-to guy.  He’s an inside force and shot blocker who’ll get plenty of playing time this season.  He’s matured mentally and physically and should be a good fit at UConn,” said Putnam Science Academy basketball coach Tom Espinosa.
Diarra, who is a good student, is NCAA qualified.  He’s taking AP courses at Putnam Science Academy.  Although he’s undecided on his college major at this time, he indicated he enjoys the field of psychology.
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