Photo courtesy of Jon Lopez/Nike
By David Cordova
This is Part 13 of our sixteen-part series, “This Is New York,” as we chronicle Hassan Diarra, a Queens native who is a standout at national prep powerhouse Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut.
Earlier this summer at the NBPA Top 100 Camp on the campus of the University of Virginia, there were a lot of standouts that stood out in front of the eyes of the college coaches and NBA scouts in attendance. There were those that made big statements and those trying to make a name for themselves.
Hassan Diarra was one of those players that was already established, but was also making a case as one of the best players in the Class of 2020. Rated No. 54 in his class by ESPN, the 6-foot-2 point guard is a player that is known for his scoring and can also be a facilitator for his teammates in terms of passing the ball.
A native of the Corona section of Queens, he is part of a basketball trio of brothers. His elder brother, Mamadou, was once a top-100 recruit who went on to play at UConn. His younger brother, Cherif, is now a senior at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens, and is a promising player himself.
When asked who would win in a battle of one-on-one between him and his brother, Hassan replied and laughed, “Of course, me, come on, he can’t guard me.”
Diarra first started his high school career at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens, where he emerged as the leading scorer in his two years at the school and was one of the premier standouts in the CHSAA.
But then two years ago, he would make the transition to Putnam Science Academy, a powerhouse prep school program in Putnam, Connecticut, which is the alma mater of his brother and of Hamidou Diallo, a native of LeFrak City, Queens and the NBA Slam Dunk champion who is entering his second season in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
When asked if making the move to Putnam Science helped him, Diarra replied, “It helped me a lot, especially when I left. I felt [like] I got a lot better, I turned into more of a point guard and that helped me drastically in my recruitment.”
Since departing the city for the greener pastures of Connecticut, Diarra has turned into not only a superb floor general, but is also one of New England’s finest as the Mustangs play a lot of the big-time NEPSAC programs. In those games, Diarra always makes his presence felt.
During this spring and summer, he played with the PSA Cardinals, where he averaged 13.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. When asked about playing for the Bronx-based Cardinals program, he replied, “Oh, yeah, it’s been a great time, I’ve been playing with them for two years now, and it’s just amazing. I’ve been playing with them since I was 16 years old, and now I’m 18. They’ve had my back throughout the entire process, even when I was injured, they were there for me.”
Currently, he holds offers from plenty of schools such as Dayton, Georgia, VCU, Texas Tech, South Florida, St. John’s, Indiana, Penn State, Wake Forest, Seton Hall, BYU, Maryland, Iowa State, Illinois and NC State.
When asked what it would take for a school to land his services, Diarra replied, “Relationaship with the [head] coach, a family-oriented environment, winning, I like winning of course.”
During the summer, when he wasn’t on the Nike EYBL circuit, he got to play with the Lincoln Park Classic in the third annual NY vs. NY tournament and also played in the City is Mine Tournament last week at the Gauchos Gym in The Bronx. Even though he no longer plays high school basketball in the city, he still keeps those Queens roots with him everywhere he goes.
Now that he’s entering his senior season at Putnam Science, his mission is simple, to find the right school and also to help the Mustangs win the National Prep Championship in March. And he won’t stop until those goals are complete.
But he also wants to continue to get better as a player, as well. When asked about his passing and if that was something he wanted to show that he could be at the next level, he replied, “Yeah, definitely, I want to be a point guard at the next level, I just want to show coaches what I can do.”
At the present time, his abilities are very attractive to the schools recruiting him. Whoever lands him will be landing a player that will be a huge asset to their program. The future is indeed bright for Hassan Diarra.
Check out Part 14 on Wednesday, September 11th, as we will chronicle Josh Gray, a promising 6-foot-11 senior forward out of Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut, who recently played his high school ball at The Knox School in St. James, Long Island.