Chronic knee issues force Diarra to end UConn playing career

Storrs — Mamadou Diarra will serve as a student assistant coach with the UConn's men's basketball program for the 2019-20 season after chronic knee problems forced him to end his college playing career.

Diarra, a redshirt junior forward from Queens, N.Y., received a medical disqualification that allows him to keep his athletic scholarship with the Huskies but not be counted as a scholarship player for the program under NCAA rules.

UConn announced the news on Wednesday.

"After discussing my situation with the medical staff, the UConn coaches and my family, we have decided this is the best course of action for me at this time," Diarra said in a release. "While it is difficult for me to stop my college playing career, I am grateful to be able to remain with the program and help the team in any way I can."

Diarra, a top 100 recruit out of Putnam Science Academy, has battled injuries throughout his playing career. As a freshman, he sat out the season as a redshirt due to significant knee discomfort. He received treatment and went through rehabilitation to try resolve the issue.

In a limited role in 2017-18, Diarra appeared in 31 games, starting five, while averaging 2.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 10.1 minutes per game.

But his knee problems continued.

During workouts last summer, Diarra suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee and underwent surgery.

Last season, he appeared in only two games, playing a total of six minutes and scoring two points.

"Unfortunately, Mamadou has endured some difficult circumstances physically since he arrived at UConn," coach Dan Hurley said. "We cannot, in good conscience, ask him to continue attempts to rehab to the point where he could compete at this level, knowing it could severely impact him later in life.

"Everyone in the program has the utmost respect for Mo as a person and as a player and in the way he has handled a tough situation. We are extremely pleased that he will remain with the program as he pursues his degree, mentoring our student-athletes on a daily basis."

As a student assistant coach, Diarra's role will be to help provide instruction to the UConn players during practices and games.

UConn currently has 11 players on scholarship. The Huskies lost one scholarship due to self-imposed sanctions for NCAA violations, so they have one scholarship available.

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