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Kansas State transfer CG Cartier Diarra adds power to Virginia Tech’s backcourt

Virginia Tech basketball went through a little roster maintenance: shortly after Isaiah Wilkins announced his decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal, Cartier Diarra committed to VT.

Diarra, a graduate transfer from Kansas State, brings a wealth of experience to the Hokies; the 6-foot-4 guard played in 95 games (58 starts) with the Wildcats. During the 2019-20 season, Diarra averaged 13.3 points (48.3 eFG%), 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

Current Virginia Tech assistant coach Chester Frazier arrived in Blacksburg for this season after spending most of the last decade with K-State (2012-19).

Diarra is also not afraid to let it fly from deep: over 47 percent of his career field goal attempts are 3-pointers (34.5 3P%). As a team this season, Virginia Tech posted a 3-point attempt rate of 47.7 percent, good for 13th highest in the country.

Thrust into a more featured role this season, Diarra saw his usage and assist rates balloon. Diarra led KSU in usage (27 percent) and assist rate: 32.6 percent, which ranked in the top 50 nationally.

A pest defensively, Diarra (who has good size) finished the season No. 65 nationally in steal rate, too: 3.5 percent. In general, Diarra brings versatility to that end of the floor.

For the Wildcats, though, the departures of offensive engines Kamau Stokes, Dean Wade and Barry Brown proved to be severe. As Diarra pushed the team, Kansas State’s offense cratered (No. 177 in adjusted efficiency); the Wildcats went just 3-15 in Big 12 play. Diarra’s role in the starting lineup fluctuated; he butt heads at time with K-State coach Bruce Weber, too.

Mike Young is one of the most creative offensive minds in college hoops; however, his offense grew a little stale as the season went along. Landers Nolley — a major hub of offense — entered the transfer portal two weeks ago, too. Nolley had some great games last season, though his efficiency fell off a cliff the back half of the year.

Wabissa Bede (41 eFG%) will always be a favorite of any coach he plays for, but he’s miscast as a lead guard. Bede is an excellent defender and more of a secondary offensive player; Diarra, in theory, should help move these pieces around.

Virginia Tech will return several talented perimeter pieces: Tyrece Radford (70.5 FG% at the rim, Hunter Cattoor, Jalen Cone and Nahiem Alleyne (38.9 3P%). Cone and Cattoor emerged as two of the better movement shooters in the ACC; as rookies, both player scored above 1.1 points per spot-up possession, according to Synergy. Those two should work to help open the floor for Diarra.