(CNN) — President Barack Obama gave a special shout out to a former Louisville Cardinals center who may be tapped by Obama’s hometown Chicago Bulls in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Speaking overseas at a state dinner in Senegal, Africa, Obama mentioned Gorgui Dieng, a Senegal native who helped his team capture the national championship this spring.
“Today, back in the United States, is NBA draft day,” Obama said at the dinner. “There’s going to be a team that makes a wise decision by drafting a favorite son of Senegal, Gorgui Dieng, who is an outstanding big man, and maybe the Bulls will get him.”
Standing tall at 6’11”, Dieng is considered a top draft prospect, with the Chicago Bulls as a potential suitor. While he’s best known for protecting the rim, observers have noted he has strong potential for his offensive game, as well.
He told CNN affiliate WHAS in Louisville earlier this month that if he ends up in the NBA with a lot of money, his first priority would be helping Senegal “with education and health care.”
Dieng arrived in the United States in 2009, but his parents were not able to come see him play until December. The community helped bring the couple to Kentucky, where they were met with great fanfare by Louisville (and Dieng) fans. His parents wore their native garb to the game.
In his March Madness college basketball bracket this year, Obama had Louisville and Indiana in the national championship, with the latter as the ultimate win. He was close, with Louisville making it all the way, but Indiana was knocked out in an earlier round.
The admiration appears to be mutual. Dieng said the person he would most like to meet is Obama, according to the Louisville Cardinals bio page for Dieng.
The president is in Africa this week on a trip that takes him to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
By Ashley Killough
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