Cartier Diarra’s future won’t include Kansas State.
Diarra, a guard on the men’s basketball team, is leaving the program. It is still uncertain whether he will turn professional or transfer to another college for his senior season.
“Cartier has informed me of his desire to test his pro basketball opportunities with the option to transfer to another school for his final season of eligibility,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said in a release. “I’m supportive of Cartier’s decision and appreciate the time he has given this program the last four years. He has been a part of many great moments here. We look forward to him graduating this spring and pursuing his dream of playing pro basketball.”
Diarra recently wrapped up his fourth season with the Wildcats, redshirting his freshman campaign in 2016-17 because of a knee injury.
He had an up-and-down season in 2019-20, both statistically and in on-court drama.
Diarra led the Wildcats in assists (134) and tied for the team-high in steals (58, the same total as senior wing Xavier Sneed). Diarra’s average of 13.3 points per game trailed only Sneed’s 14.2. But he also committed 103 turnovers, most on the team and 36 more than his closest teammate (senior forward Makol Mawien had 67).
Then there Diarra’s much-publicized issues with Weber.
During a nationally televised game against top-ranked Baylor at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 3, ESPN color analyst Fran Fraschilla took Diarra to task after officials assessed Diarra a technical foul, stemming from Diarra arguing what he viewed as a missed call on a failed foray to the basket.
“This young man has outstanding talent (but) he’s been coming off the bench as of late,” Fraschilla said. “Listen, I like this kid. He’s a great story. But the body language — I talked to him (about it) before when I came to practice — I don’t think his mind is with Kansas State. I really don’t. I think his mind is on playing professional basketball. This is a mistake for him. This is a mistake. He’s blowing a very good opportunity to be a very good college player.”
Diarra was in the spotlight — for the wrong reasons — again on Feb. 19, when ESPN cameras caught him yelling at Weber during a second-half timeout in a game at Texas Tech.
Weber responded by picking up his coaching stool and slamming it to the ground. Though Diarra remained in the game after the heated discussion, he attempted an ill-fated windmill dunk that was part of a five-point swing: Had Diarra made it, the contest would have been at 42-all with under 10 minutes remaining. Instead, the ball caromed off the rim and Texas Tech nailed a 3-pointer in transition to push its lead to five.
At the next break in the action, Diarra came off the floor and did not return in the Wildcats’ eventual 69-62 loss.
Yet Diarra provided his share of highlights as a Wildcat, too, especially during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. During both years, he was a key piece off the bench for teams that advanced to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament (2017-18) and won a share of the Big 12 regular-season title (2018-19).
His windmill dunk in the final minute of a Sunflower Showdown contest against Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 4, 2019, became an instantly iconic moment in K-State lore, providing a highlight-reel play in the closing seconds of a 74-67 victory that snapped an eight-game losing skid to the Jayhawks.
Diarra ends his K-State career having appeared in 95 games, making 58 starts. He finishes with averages of 9.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.