YUMA, Ariz. – Positionless, multifaceted players are headlining the current evolution of basketball. Mathilde Diop, nominally a guard, filled a variety of roles this season for the Arizona Western College women’s basketball team. She signed a National Letter of Intent to join Colorado University next season after one season with AWC.
“Mathilde was able to perform exceptionally in the classroom as well as on the court,” said AWC head coach Patrick Cunningham. “As an NCAA non-qualifier, it was necessary for her to graduate from AWC with her A.A. degree to be eligible to move on to a university, and she was able to do that in one academic year.”
Diop played across all five positions at times (depending on matchups), and she could score and distribute at will. The freshman filled up the stat sheet by averaging 9.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks per game during the season. She scored a season high 17 points in a win over Glendale, and she nearly equaled it with 16 in the team’s Region I Semifinal win over Eastern Arizona. She scored at least 10 points 16 times in 31 games. Diop was named to the All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Third Team and the All-Region I Second Team.
“She has a high ceiling of potential as a 6’2 guard, which is why there was so much interest in her,” said Cunningham.
She was an able defender on defense and used her length to frustrate her assignments. In the team’s playoff win against Eastern Arizona, she had four blocks and two steals and helped hold Veronica Preciado, the Division I Player of the Year, to 5-15 shooting from the floor.
Diop is headed to a Colorado team that went 17-16 last season and reached the third round of the WNIT.
“We would have loved to have had her for year two,” said Cunningham. “But we are happy she was able to excel academically and make herself available after a year of competition here. The Pac-12 is considered to be one of the top conferences in women’s NCAA Division I basketball, and we wish her all the best.”
Diop is the second Lady Matador sophomore to sign with a four-year school. Krisynthia Sampson signed with the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the fall semester.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,400 certificates and degrees in 2015-16.