Diakite on Naismith Trophy watch list

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Mamadi Diakite wasn't an All-ACC selection after the regular season last year. The forward only played a total of 20 minutes off the bench in Virginia's two conference tournament games, and didn't start the Cavaliers' NCAA Tournament first round game either.

But fast-forward to Monday, and Diakite is one of seven ACC players among 50 from around the country on the preseason watch list for the Naismith Trophy, given to the player of the year in men's basketball each season.

Diakite averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds for UVA's NCAA championship team last season, but emerged on the national level during the Cavaliers' run to that title. After exploring the NBA Draft before returning to UVA last off-season, the fifth-year forward is expected to play a central role for the Wahoos this year.

Diakite was also a preseason All-ACC first-team selection last month, and named to the preseason watch list for the Karl Malone Award, given to the nation's top power forward.