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UNLV center enters NBA Draft, transfer portal, per report

UNLV senior center Mbacke Diong announced that he is entering the NBA draft without an agent — and the NCAA’s transfer portal — all but ending his career with the Rebels, according to an interview he did with ESPN.

Diong in 2020-21 averaged 8.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 60.7 percent from the field, and was a steadying presence during yet another turbulent season.

His teammate, Bryce Hamilton, a junior wing and the team’s leading scorer, declared for the draft last month and entered the portal last week. Fellow rotation players Caleb Grill and David Jenkins Jr. also announced transfers to Iowa State and Utah, respectively.

The Rebels will have an entirely new rotation in 2021-22.

“If I decided to return to college, I want to go to a winning program that goes to the NCAA tournament,” Diong told ESPN. “Having more visibility is a big thing for me. Also somewhere where they can develop me and showcase my potential — what I can bring to the table defensively and offensively.”

Diong, who stands 6 feet, 11 inches, was an All-Mountain West defensive team honoree in 2020-21, and will likely be one of the most sought-after big men in the transfer portal. The Rebels welcomed frontcourt transfers Royce Hamm and Victor Iwuakor, who will likely be called upon to fill Diong’s void next season.

“They gave us an extra year to make up for COVID which is why I’m considering coming back to college,” Diong told ESPN. “My main focus is on being a pro, and entering the transfer portal is an option for me to evaluate the opportunity that I have of coming back to college — not just UNLV but any school that wants me.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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