Hassan Diarra wins another National Championship

March 9, 2024

Putnam Science Academy’s all-time leading scorer and two-time national prep champion Hassan Diarra scored nine (9) points Monday night to become a two-time NCAA National Champion as UConn won its second straight title by beating Purdue 75-60. 

Hassan’s older brother Mamadou also a PSA Alum, who is seventh on PSA’s all-time scoring list and third on it’s all-time rebounding list, has also been part of UConn’s last two crowns as the team’s Director of Player Development. 

“Unbelievable,” PSA Men’s Prep Head Coach Tom Espinosa said. “They’re tremendous young men from a terrific family and they left a mark here at Putnam Science Academy. Now they’re leaving their mark at UConn, and I could not be prouder of them or happier for them”

Updated April 15, 2024

It’s been a loud, nearly nonstop, whirlwind blur for Hassan Diarra and his UConn teammates since they won their second straight NCAA championship on April 8.

But Diarra – Putnam Science Academy’s all-time leading scorer and a two-time national Prep champ with the Mustangs – will always remember the quiet moment that was shared in the locker room, away from all the noise and cameras and microphones once the game had ended.

“I’ll never forget the huddle we had in the locker room,” Diarra said earlier this week. “It was just us, the players and coaches, and it was a bittersweet moment. When you have a team like this, you don’t want it to end. You know that all good things must come to an end, but that was a blessed moment for sure, one that I will always remember.”

Diarra will graduate from UConn in a few weeks with a degree in Sociology and has one more year of eligibility to use if he so chooses. As of Sunday night, he was undecided about what he was going to do and where he would play if he did, though UConn is absolutely an option for his grad season. He was named the Big East’s Sixth Man of the Year as the conference’s top reserve, and was one of the fiercest defenders on a team of fierce defenders. This after having a very limited role during his junior season at UConn, which was his first after transferring in from Texas A&M.

“When I talked with the coaching staff then, it was about a vision of competing for championships and continuing to get better and developing as a player,” he said. “That we’ve been able to manifest that has been amazing.

“The first one last year felt good but to do it again, with this group, was like 1,000 times better. Obviously, I had more of a role on this team too. Last year’s felt amazing, don’t get me wrong. But this one is just on another level.”

Adding to that is the fact that Diarra’s older brother, Mamadou (who is seventh on PSA’s all-time scoring list and third on its all-time rebounding list), has also been part of UConn’s back-to-back titles as the team’s Director of Player Development.

“Having my brother by my side all the way through and to have this experience with him again is just a true blessing,” Hassan said. “I’m glad we were able to cross paths again and be together and experience this together.

“On the court, he’s my coach. He corrects me on my mistakes, he encourages me, he helps me get better. Off the court, he’s just a big brother for me, and he’s done an amazing job at that. He’s not only helped me, but he’s also helped a lot of guys on this team, and I think that’s part of why we’re so successful.”

UConn became the first team to repeat as national champions since Florida did it in 2006 and 2007, and this year’s version is being talked about as one of college basketball’s all-time teams.

“When the time was winding down and we started our celebration, it was like, ‘Man, we were able to do it again.’ It was kind of crazy. It was a surreal feeling,” Diarra said.

“The fact that we were able to make history and be a part of one of the greatest teams to ever play college basketball, to write our own narrative…it’s truly amazing. The number of teams that play college basketball, and to be one of the top teams of all-time, it’s crazy to wrap your mind around.”

Diarra said he can trace his success back to his days at 18 Maple Street, when he was starring at Putnam Science Academy.

“I can look back and say that my winning pedigree and the will to win…I got that from PSA,” he said. “Before I got there, I wasn’t much of a winner. That changed when I went there. My mentality really changed for me. I’m forever blessed to have been a part of that.”

Stephen Nalbandian

Sports Information Director

Putnam Science Academy

More to explore