"People are too busy right now in this world, only thinking about themselves and not what they can do to help others. I am never too busy to help others.” — Gorgui Dieng
Gorgui Dieng was born on January 18th, 1990 in a small town called Kebemar located in rural western Senegal. Kebemar has a population of 22,000 people which instilled communal values in Gorgui from a very young age. Born to Momar Dieng and Seynabou Dieng, Gorgui was one of eight children in his family. Gorgui and his friends abandoned their native sport of soccer at a young age to pursue basketball which ultimately became Dieng's passion and gift.
Gorgui attended the Sports for Education and Economic Development School in Senegal for one year where he learned to play organized basketball before he was unanimously selected in 2009 for "Basketball Without Borders" an NBA camp that hosted 60 of Africa's best young basketball players from all over the continent. He was named the camp's MVP and was immediately encouraged to take his talents to the United States. Gorgui uprooted his life and with the support of his extended family, moved to the United States to play a year of high school basketball at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.
When he arrived in the United States, Gorgui spoke no English. He found it increasingly difficult once he started his college recruitment process but first he needed to succeed at the high school level. He started his prep career at Huntington Prep in West Virginia under coach Rob Fulford and averaged an impressive 15.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 7.2 blocks per game. This stellar play from a largely unknown prospect did not go unnoticed. Big time college programs came calling spearheaded by schools such as Colorado, Louisville, Marquette and Marshall and Gorgui had a tough decision to make. Ranked as the 44th best prospect in the nation in 2010, many schools were yearning for the chance to sign the 6'11 Senegalese star.
On April 26th, 2010, Gorgui Dieng verbally committed to Louisville and began the initial portion of his career as a Cardinal under Rick Pitino and his experienced staff. Upon first arriving at Louisville, the NCAA ruled Gorgui ineligible to play. The decision was overturned in October of 2010 and Dieng became eligible to play immediately. During his freshman season, Gorgui received playing time in 29 games averaging 16 minutes per game. Dieng averaged 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds throughout his freshman campaign until Louisville was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Moorehead State. One year later, in the 2011-2012 season, Gorgui was named a started on Louisville's team and led the Big East Conference in blocked shots. Additionally, he set a record for blocks in a season at Louisville and took his Cardinals team all the way to the Final Four. The following season became Gorgui's best season both on and off the court.
In 2013 when he was named the Big East defensive player of the year, selected as a member of the Big East first team, and also helped lead Louisville to a NCAA championship in his junior season. Off the court, he was selected as a student representative for the University of Louisville's athletic department, an impressive honor for any student-athlete. At the conclusion of his junior year, Gorgui decided to forgo his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2013 NBA draft.
Gorgui Dieng's long and unusual journey to the NBA became true and solidified when he was drafted with the 21st overall pick by the Utah Jazz. He was immediately packaged, alongside former UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad in a trade that sent the two to Minnesota, some 5,030 miles from his native Senegal. During Gorgui's rookie season in 2014, he saw playing time in 60 games, starting 15 with his most impressive performance in a 22 point, 21 rebound game against the Houston Rockets. That game was the first ever 20-20 game by a rookie in Minnesota Timberwolves history. As the season progressed and Gorgui became more acclimated to the style of NBA basketball, his play improved dramatically. He improved so much that he was named to the NBA all-rookie second team. Additionally, in 2014, Gorgui Dieng represented Senegal as a member of their national team in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He averaged 16 points and 10.7 rebounds throughout the tournament over the course of six games.
Overall, his rookie year internationally and in the NBA was considered an overwhelming success.Dieng's second year in the NBA saw him average even better numbers and appear in 73 games averaging nearly 30 minutes per game. His statistics skyrocketed as he averaged 9.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over the course of the season. Early in 2015, Gorgui recorded a career high 22 points against the Denver Nuggets. The absence of a strong big man on the Timberwolves (due to Nikola Pekovic's injury) and their extremely youthful core allowed Dieng to blossom in ways he might not otherwise have. Shortly after his breakout game, on January 28th, Dieng was named a member of the Team World team to play in the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge. His summer workouts concluded with his participation in the 2015 NBA Africa exhibition game. He was selected among other great NBA stars with some family ties to Africa such as Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Festus Ezeli.
Later that year, his play was earning him more and more recognition and appreciation and on October 21st, 2015 the Minnesota Timberwolves exercised the third-year option on Dieng's contract keeping him under contract through the 2016-2017 season. His most prominent game to date came at the beginning of 2016 as he posted a 24 point, 13 rebound and 7 assist game in a win against the Chicago Bulls. As Gorgui Dieng tries to spearhead Minnesota's youth movement in the NBA, he also has his eyes focused on making a difference & giving back in his home country of Senegal.