WVU basketball: 'Crafty' Dibo should fit in well
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Remi Dibo's scoring average and 3-point percentage at Casper College leave few concerns about whether the newest West Virginia basketball signee can make it with the Mountaineers.
Yet if that's no secret to a populace barely familiar with the 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward, trust it won't be absent from scouting reports once Dibo gets deeper into WVU's 2013-14 schedule. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, Casper Coach Dan Russell said Dibo has a workaround built into his game.
"He's really crafty," Russell said.
Dibo shot 41.9 percent from 3-point range last season and averaged 18.2 points as a second-team All-American. About 55 percent of his field goal attempts were 2-point shots and Dibo made 46 percent of those in a variety of different ways.
"He's crafty with how he ball-fakes, with how he finishes around the rim, with his shot array for the type of shots he takes on the perimeter," Russell said. "He's got a good step-back, he's great with the pump-fake and then he shoots it really well. He's just really good with the ball and he's deceptive with the ball."
Russell, a Casper assistant for the five semesters Dibo was on campus who has since been promoted to head coach, saw opponents realize they had to rush out to the perimeter to contest Dibo. He then watched Dibo make hasty defenders look silly. He would wait for them to fly by and then shoot. Or he'd slide and shoot. Or he'd dribble inside. Or he'd pass and cut.
When Dibo was inside, he could use his body and his moves to draw fouls or to jump up and shoot over a defender.
"He understands how defenses play him and he understands how to play while he's being scouted," Russell said. "He's a really intelligent player and that has a lot to do with his international background. He's been all over. He's played against a million different types of players. He's kind of seen it all because he's played for such a long time."
Dibo, who is 21 and right-handed, is on track to get his associate degree from Casper. He was born in the Ivory Coast and has dual citizenship in France. He lived in Paris for many years and was on the under-16 national team.
He also played for Team Africa in the adidas Nations Camp that features some of the world's best under-18 players.
It was there where Dibo discovered he was quicker than power forwards he would play, but not as agile as the small forwards. He started building a game that could work against either defender. Then he started applying it in games and became much more popular on the recruiting trail.
Dibo was offered a scholarship by Kentucky to be a part of the 2009-10 recruiting class. He couldn't get his grades in order before the Wildcats convinced Terrence Jones to de-commit from the University of Washington and pick the team that would beat the Mountaineers in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Dibo enrolled at Casper in December 2010 and redshirted during the second semester. He played the past two years and proved his versatility. In his first season, Dibo averaged 12.4 points per game and made 40.5 percent of his 3-point shots.
He was somewhat limited, though, and shot just 38-for-100 from 2-point range and 45-for-63 (71.4 percent) at the free throw line. As a sophomore, Dibo was more active and accurate from 2-point range (107-for-232) and the foul line (81-for-98) - and that includes shooting 24-for-28 in seven conference games against opponents familiar enough with Dibo to hold him to 22-for-62 shooting from 3-point range.
"He certainly shoots it well enough to be a wing player, but he's more of a stretch (power forward) because of his ability to put the ball on the ground," Russell said. "He creates a bit of a matchup nightmare out there for most (power forwards) because he can go by most of them off the bounce.
"And he's really got a good handle for being 6-9 and 230-some pounds. Now when there's a quicker or smaller wing guarding him, he can have trouble with that, but he also knows how to score over those guys."
Russell said Dibo, who has two years to play two seasons, will thrive with WVU's strength and conditioning and that it will help him build confidence for rebounding and defending. Russell said Dibo guarded both forward positions and that his feet were quick enough to handle players on the wing, but that he was strong enough to guard size inside.
"He can definitely get better," Russell said.
Dibo averaged 4.8 and 4.9 rebounds in his two years at Casper, but Russell said those numbers are a little misleading. Casper asked Dibo to play outside on offense, and he only had 35 offensive rebounds in 29 games last season. The Thunderbirds were also a good rebounding team without Dibo with 14.4 offensive rebounds per game and a plus-8.6 margin.
"Other than defensive rebounding, he really wasn't around the rim a whole lot because of where he likes to operate offensively," Russell said. "He does have to get better at rebounding, no question."
Russell said Dibo knows the transition will test him, but that it's a challenge Dibo has been through before and wants again.
"His numbers and his maturity have come a long way," Russell said. "The work he put in this past offseason was the big reason his numbers jumped so much. If he puts in the same work this summer, he should pick up right where he left off.
"He does know he'll be playing against better players, but he'll be playing with better players, too. He definitely has a chance to be an impact guy for them."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.