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November 22, 2013

Gottlieb keys Diallo signing





For the longest time, Idrissa Diallo paid little attention to offers outside of Los Angeles.

It wasn't so much that the talented big man had a soft spot for USC or UCLA, as he was outspoken about remaining in a climate similar to his native Senegal.

A visit from California, though, changed everything.

"Coach Gregg Gottlieb came to my school and told me all about Berkeley. He told me about the university and the academics, and about the Muslim community," Diallo told GoldenBearReport. "That was really important to me."

The two would ultimately develop a close relationship, and over the course of Diallo's recruitment, Gottlieb was the only collegiate coach the Rivals150 hoopster gave his phone number to, preferring for all other programs to work exclusively through his coach, Will Middlebrooks.

"He usually came down a couple times a month and we'd text a lot," Diallo said of Gottlieb. "Even when I was injured, he would come to my school to visit."

That doesn't mean, however, that Cal circumvented Middlebrooks.

"We talked all the time," said Middlebrooks. "He (Gottlieb) knows how to coach bigs and really relates well with the kids."

High praise from the leader of the nation's No. 2 AAU program, Compton Magic, and Cathedral High School head honcho, but not altogether surprising given Gottlieb's deep California roots.

The 7th year Bears assistant grew up in Orange, left briefly to play for Drake University, and has spent the last nearly two decades building relationships in the Golden State, early-on while an assistant at Cal Poly SLO and Sacramento State, and more recently as a member of Steve Fischer's staff at San Diego State before landing in the Bay Area.

And though Diallo's connection with Gottlieb was quickly built upon the latters ability to articulate Cal's attributes, earning prep coaches' respect is a lengthier process.

"I've known Gregg for a long time," said Middlebrooks, "and he's always been a straight shooter...I trust that he'll make sure Idy takes care of business in the classroom and puts in the time in the gym."


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