UM's Moussa Diabate, Caleb Houstan to test NBA Draft waters

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan freshmen Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan are going to explore their NBA options.

Diabate announced Monday that he will test the NBA Draft waters and keep the door open for a return to Ann Arbor as he gathers feedback. The news came out one day after the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft.

“Michigan, it’s been my dream to take my game to the next level,” Diabate wrote in a statement. “With that in mind, I feel now is the right time to explore the NBA Draft evaluation process. I am excited to learn and go through the processes I have heard so much about.

“It is important to say the support and guidance Coach (Juwan) Howard and the staff has given me has been such a gift. I have appreciated all they have done for me, and my family. I will be entering my name into the 2022 NBA Draft process.”

Like Diabate, Houstan also declared for the draft before Sunday’s deadline and will go through the pre-draft process while maintaining his college eligibility, according to a report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Diabate, a former five-star recruit who hails from France and played at Florida’s IMG Academy, began the season coming off the bench before he worked his way into the starting lineup at the four. He started 26 of the 32 games he played, averaging nine points and six rebounds in 24.9 minutes while shooting 54.2% from the floor.

The 6-foot-11, 210-pound Diabate scored in double digits 13 times — highlighted by his 28-point performance in a critical road win at Iowa — grabbed a team-high 76 offensive rebounds and earned a spot on the Big Ten’s all-freshman team.

Houstan, a former five-star recruit from Canada, started every game for the Wolverines at the three spot and averaged 10.1 points, four rebounds and 1.4 assists in 32 minutes. He scored in double figures 17 times, made a team-high 60 3-pointers and shot 35.5% from 3-point range.

However, Houstan’s rookie season didn’t exactly live up to expectations, given his recruit ranking (No. 11 in the nation) and reputation coming out of another Florida prep powerhouse — Montverde Academy. His defense and all-around game left a lot to be desired and his long-range shooting was inconsistent.

He shot 25% or worse from deep in a game 15 times and his 3-point numbers were much better at Crisler Center (47.7%; 31-for-65) than away from home (27.9%; 29-for-104).

Though Diabate’s freshman campaign had its share of ups and downs and his jump shot limited his offensive ceiling, the 20-year-old’s size, length, motor, athleticism and raw talent make him an appealing prospect at the next level. Houstan (6-8, 205) is a tall shooter who can space the floor, which is something NBA teams will covet, though he didn’t show it on a consistent basis with the Wolverines.

Houstan, 19, was pegged as a possible lottery pick before he played his first game at Michigan and Diabate was viewed as a potential late first-rounder before the season, but both have dropped out of most two-round mock drafts. Houstan is ranked No. 64 and Diabate No. 69 in ESPN's top 100 draft prospects.

Michigan already has to replace two starters in guards Eli Brooks and DeVante’ Jones, and Diabate’s and Houstan’s pending decisions could add to the roster turnover. But with center Hunter Dickinson announcing Sunday that he’s returning for his junior season, the Wolverines will at least return their headliner in the frontcourt.

Diabate and Houstan, like all early entrants, will have until June 1 — 10 days after the completion of the NBA combine — to withdraw their names from draft consideration and return to school. The NBA Draft is June 23.

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins