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Vanderbilt Basketball Player Preview: Malik Dia

The local signee could be a rotation player for Vanderbilt as a freshman.

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

First of all, big ups to the USA Today Network for giving us a photo of Malik Dia we can use... in which he’s going up against current Vanderbilt offensive lineman Grayson Morgan.

Yesterday I wrote about freshman point guard Paul Lewis, a guy who was highly thought of as a high school underclassman, committed to Maryland, then had his stock drop for unknown reasons and might make a good buy low candidate for Jerry Stackhouse; Dia is probably the opposite of that. Per his 247 Sports page, Dia didn’t even show up in the composite until June 2021 and then floated outside the top 200, but he’s got a decent offer list (TCU, Nebraska, St. John’s, Creighton, Marquette.)

What’s more, on his 247 page he’s listed at 6’7” and 190 pounds. Vanderbilt’s roster lists him at 6’9” and 240 pounds. Assuming the latter numbers are accurate, that makes a big difference. A 6’7”, 190-pound player with a decent three-point stroke is a marginal SEC player; a 6’9”, 240-pound player who can shoot threes can be better than that. That said, I always say about highlight tapes that you can often tell a lot about a player based on what’s not on the highlight tape, and, well... it’s great that he can shoot threes at that size, but it would be cool if he could also do the stuff we typically associate with guys who are 6’9” and 240. He did average 22.7 ppg and 9.9 rpg as a high school senior, so maybe he can?

With all that said, Vanderbilt probably won’t need him to do a whole lot as a freshman — Jordan Wright and Myles Stute are returning at the forward spots, and fellow freshman Colin Smith is probably more advanced if the Europe trip (which Dia didn’t play on due to injury) is any indication. I don’t think he’ll redshirt, but if he can give Vanderbilt 10-15 good minutes a night as a freshman, that’s a bonus. Anything beyond that, and he’s even better than the most optimistic projection for his freshman season.