Taylor Has Fan In Fellow Louisville Alum Gorgui Dieng
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People often say that college is a time to make lasting friends, a true statement even for college basketball players.
Lynx forward Asia Taylor and Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng have been close friends ever since their years at the University of Louisville. Taylor started there as a freshman in 2009, and Dieng followed closely behind in 2010.
Taylor said that players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Louisville become very close friends through workouts, hangouts on and off the court, and even playing video games.
“One of the things we do, we play FIFA,” Taylor said about what she and Dieng choose to do during their time off. “He plays soccer and stuff, and I’m terrible at it, but we play anyway.”
The Wolves acquired Dieng, who helped the Cardinals win the 2013 NCAA title, through a Draft night trade last June. During his rookie season in 2013-14, Dieng averaged 4.8 points per game with 5.0 rebounds and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Taylor just began her rookie season with the Lynx after being taken with the last pick in the 2014 WNBA Draft, but she has already started to make an impact at Minnesota. She scored 18 points in a preseason game against the Chicago Sky and had another 10 point game in the Lynx’s 87-82 win over the New York Liberty, a game that Dieng attended with his wife and mother.
“I actually didn’t see him, I don’t really know exactly when he came in,” Taylor said. “But when I saw him over there I kind of gave him a little wave and stuff.”
After Taylor was drafted by the Lynx, she says she immediately thought of Dieng being in the Twin Cities and was glad that she would have a familiar face somewhere far from home.
“We hung out a lot, women’s basketball and men’s basketball, we pretty much hung out with each other all the time and stuff so, you know, when I found out I got drafted here, the first thing I thought about was ‘Dang, at least I’ll know somebody that’s there,’” Taylor said. “It was really good. He texted me, you know, and was like, ‘Welcome.’”
Dieng was in Senegal for most of Lynx training camp and just returned to Minnesota within the last couple of weeks. Since he’s been back, Taylor says they have been together a lot.
After the May 23 win against the Liberty, Taylor and Dieng went to the restaurant ‘Seven’ downtown to celebrate. Taylor had never been to the restaurant before, but she says Dieng is a regular.
“That was my first time going and we walk in, everybody knows him,” Taylor said. “I was like ‘Dang Gorgui! How often do you come here?’”
Underneath the dinners, jokes and video games, Dieng and Taylor have a friendship built on mutual respect and a love for basketball.
Taylor says she has gotten a lot of support and encouragement in person from Dieng at Louisville, texts following the WNBA Draft and visits during these last few weeks here with the Lynx. As soon as her season is over, she plans to return the favor.
“It’s just support,” Taylor said. “And this year, I’ll definitely be at as many of his [Timberwolves] games as I can be.”
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