CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- FORMER CASPER (Wyo.) College basketball standout Remi Dibo was wrestling between scholarship offers from Memphis, Washington State and West Virginia when he took a recruiting visit to Morgantown.Mountaineer assistant Erik Martin had handled the process to that point. Yet when the player arrived in Morgantown, Martin handed Dibo over to head coach Bob Huggins.To say Dibo was surprised is an understatement."It's like [Huggins] has a double personality," Dibo said. "He's not the same off the court as when he's on the court coaching."The calmer, more relaxed Huggins - as opposed to the more demanding, animated on-court Huggins - won Dibo over."He's a respectable man," Dibo said of the coach. "He looked at me eye-to-eye when we talked. Me and him definitely had a connection. That's why we're now talking about me signing and playing at West Virginia."The signing of Dibo has been the latest news in a most interesting off-season for Huggins and WVU. Recently, the Mountaineers signed two Top 25 junior college players in Jonathan Holton (No. 13, according to Jucorecruiting.com) and Dibo (No. 24).Huggins might not be finished. There are whispers Keaton Miles could also be on his way out of Morgantown, which would open yet another scholarship.But this Dibo signing is intriguing. According to Casper coach Dan Russell, the 6-foot-9 forward's choice boiled down to WVU and Memphis. The player added Washington State. Russell said Kansas State, Texas A&M, Washington and Wyoming also offered. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Gonzaga also were interested."He has to be one of the most recruited guys at the junior college level I've seen in a while," Russell said."After my visit [to Morgantown] more than 30 schools tried to reach out to me," Dibo said before specifically pointing to Minnesota.
It's happened many times in the past. When word gets out Huggins is recruiting a player, other coaches respond and try to jump into the mix. This time, though, Huggins had an ace up his sleeve: familiarity."It was pretty easy for me because my senior year in high school I went to Mountain State Academy [in Beckley]," Dibo said. "I already had a taste of that Mountaineer culture."Soon the "Mountaineer culture" will get to know Dibo as well. He's back in France now, but will return to Morgantown for the second semester of summer school. The prediction from here: he'll be a fan favorite, a la former foreign import Deniz Kilicli.See, Dibo is originally from Montreuil, France, near Paris. He speaks broken, yet understandable English. ("It wasn't too pretty had you caught me five years ago," Dibo laughed.)
But WVU fans will certainly love his spirit."Because I went to Mountain State, everyone at WVU knew about me," Dibo said. "Then I went [to Morgantown] and got a feeling for college life there. I felt there's definitely no match for that school."
He spoke about visiting WVU's new practice facility."It showed me they really care about basketball and me," Dibo said. "You can't ask for more."We spoke about his early visits to the United States. Dibo first jumped the pond to attend an AAU event in Las Vegas during the 2008-09 season."I learned [the United States] is the country with the best level of talent," Dibo said.
Get the drift?But let's drill down to Dibo the player. Obviously, he can play. Kentucky coach John Calipari once offered him a scholarship before pulling it for Terrance Jones. Dibo has played for the under-16 French national team. He once pushed Mountain State past national power Oak Hill Academy in the ESPN Rise Basketball Invitational.And this past season, he averaged 18.2 points, connecting on 41.9 percent of his 3-point attempts, and averaged 4.9 rebounds for Casper. He hit 82.7 percent of his free throws.Those last few sentences have to be sights for the sore eyes of WVU fans."Offensively, the sky's the limit for him," Russell said. "He's a tremendous shooter and has a great handle for his size. Defensively, he's a presence inside with his size and athleticism."Huggins likes Dibo's size and length. The hope is he can help the Mountaineers inside and, defensively, on the perimeter as well as on the boards rebounding."He needs to work on his rebounding and defense," Russell said. "I think his international background has really helped though. Here, he's learned to be more physical. But he needs to learn to be more physical and take pride in it."Dibo was a JUCO second-team All-America selection. In one game, he had six 3-point buckets - in the first half alone. That's why I believe of those signed by WVU, Dibo is the most intriguing."He's a play-away four [power forward]," Russell said. "He's just so skilled and versatile offensively. He's been a matchup nightmare for teams here. A unique talent."Russell, an assistant at Casper last season, has watched Dibo's numbers rise. Ditto his maturity."He's matured a lot," said the coach. "He speaks the English language very well. He's very intelligent. And very charismatic."The people in West Virginia will love him."Especially if he can score.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.