Moussa Diabate has his arms up towards the hoop, letting go of the ball.
Moussa Diabate will not return to Michigan. Dominick Sokotoff/Daily.  Buy this photo.

After a tumultuous season for the Michigan men’s basketball team, the Wolverines went into the offseason with a lot to figure out. As the program’s door revolved with players transferring in and out, it remained unclear if the decisions of two key freshmen forwards — Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate — would add to those concerns.

Diabate did. 

Although Houstan’s decision remains unknown, one thing is certain for the Wolverines: Diabate will not return. 

On Wednesday, Jeff Goodman from Stadium reported that Diabate will forgo that eligibility and remain in the NBA draft.

Diabate is the inaugural one-and-done player under Michigan coach Juwan Howard’s tenure and the first Wolverine since Ignas Brazdeikis in 2019. Diabate is just the third Michigan basketball player to leave after their freshman year. 

While Houstan’s skills received attention from scouts ahead of the NBA Combine — to the point where he did not even participate — Diabate’s physical attributes turned the heads of scouts. He showed intriguing talent throughout the combine, and on Monday he worked out with the Atlanta Hawks. That interest from teams undoubtedly played a role in Diabate’s decision to stay in the draft.

Diabate quickly found his way into the starting lineup behind impressive offensive production that warranted more playing time. 

Despite his strong start though, Diabate struggled to build upon his scoring abilities. The liability he brought on defense and his inability to create his own shot became apparent as the season progressed.

As Diabate looked beyond college and toward the professional level, it was unclear whether those issues constituted another year of development. When he entered the NBA Draft less than a month ago, his name was excluded from the majority of mock drafts — likely due to those weaknesses. 

But after participating in the NBA Combine, his performance warranted people’s attention and as more eyes watched, Diabate’s draft stock rose.

Among all centers that participated in the combine, Diabate ranked first in lane agility, maximum vertical, standing vertical, three quarter sprint and shuttle run. He also boasted the lowest body fat percentage among all NBA Combine participants at 2.7%. 

Although Houstan’s decision — and the impact it will have — remains unknown, the Wolverines face a gaping hole in their starting lineup with the departure of Diabate. 

The last piece of clarity lies with Houstan, though. If he joins Diabate, Michigan’s concerns will grow, and if he returns, he fills a key role for the Wolverines.

As time ticks down, Michigan’s future lineup is still unsettled.