DAKAR (2016 Rio Olympics) - Four years after starring for Senegal U18 national team, Yacine Diop is set to make her debut with the senior women’s national team.
Moustapha Gaye, the new head coach of the African champions, announced a 19-player preliminary squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics on Thursday, one that sees Diop join the likes of veterans Aya Traore and Astou Traore.
Diop led Senegal to the title at the 2012 U18 FIBA African Women's Championship in their capital city of Dakar and Gaye kept her under his radar.
Rated as one of the top prospects in Senegal, Diop crossed the Atlantic four years ago to pursue her education and basketball career. She currently plays collegiate basketball with the University of Pittsburgh.
The 20-year-old forward keeps proving her talent stateside.
This past season, the 1.80m forward started all 31 games for the Pittsburgh Panthers, had nine team-high performances and recorded 14 double-doubles to finish the season with 10.4 points average per contest.
"She is a young talented player who can help us at both ends of the court. She can bring a lot of energy to our team," Gaye said to FIBA.com.
I have been following her career, and I hope she can contribute to our team. - Gaye
Gaye selected all but two players who featured for Senegal at AfroBasket Women 2015. While Sabelle Diata is dealing with unspecified injuries, 37-year-old Bineta Diouf has retired from the national team.
I hope the 19 players can take the team's preparation very seriously, and work the best way they can. They are the best players that I can work with. - Gaye
The Senegalese are making their Olympic return since 2000. They have been matched up against Olympic champions USA, EuroBasket Women 2015 champions Serbia, FIBA Americas Women's Championship winners Canada and two teams that will have qualified via the 2016 FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).
"They are better than us, but we are going to compete one game at a time, and trying to make the most of the experience. We are going to take lessons for next year's African Championship," the play caller noted.
Gaye is expecting to open the Olympics training camp in June in Dakar.
Senegal 19-player preliminary squad for Rio 2016 Olympics: Ramata Daou, Maimouna Diarra, Bintou Dieme, Fatou Dieng, Ndeye Khadiatou Dieng, Mame Diodio Diouf, Yacine Diop, Diary Diouf, Aida Fall, Magali Mendy, Couna Ndao, Marie Sadio Beatrice Rosche, Ndeye Sene, Mame Marie Sy, Oumou Khairy Thiam, Oumou Kulthum Toure, Astou Traore, Aya Traore and Lala Wane.