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Zoom Diallo on why he left Curtis basketball legacy to play for Prolific Prep: 'To go down this path I want to, I have to sacrifice certain things'

Five-star point guard said after Vikings' Class 4A repeat in March, he grappled with either enrolling in college early or attending a prep school - and ultimately chose the high-profile program in Napa, California

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington - Even with a new home, Zoom Diallo couldn't stay away from his old digs.

Curtis High School basketball has been a big part of his world for three seasons. He helped lead the Vikings to back-to-back Class 4A championships. Devin Whitten, his best friend in the world, is still on the squad.

So, when the Vikings opened up play at the 2023 Curtis Summer League Tournament on Friday night in their own gymnasium, right before tipoff, Diallo and a couple of friends came to watch their new-era debut.

"Yes, it’s different from the last couple of years," Diallo told SBLive WA in an exclusive interview Friday. "I felt like this year is a learning year with a bunch of new guys. Summer league is the best way for them to learn. It’s going to get better."

Nearly two weeks ago, Diallo confirmed publicly that he was leaving Curtis to attend nationally-ranked Prolific Prep in California for his senior season.

It's a big step leaving home - withdrawing from what is familiar - but the five-star point guard knows it is a necessary one if he wants to continue down a path toward an NBA playing career.

"It's hard. I am leaving my family behind. I'm leaving close friends, close supporters behind. I am leaving the chance to become the all-time leading scorer at Curtis behind - possibly becoming the first McDonald's All-American here and the shot at a (4A title) three-peat," he said.

"But in the ultimate decision, I know all of that stuff are memories. I am trying to get to a certain point, and ... if I want to go down this path I want to, I have to sacrifice certain things."

After the Vikings won the Class 4A title over Olympia in March - and Diallo began rolling in the honors (Gatorade state player of the yearSBLive WA state player of the year), bump in national rankings (No. 9 recruit in 2024 by; No. 12 by and offers, he admitted he started looking at other options.

The two he kept going back to were either reclassifying to the 2023 class and enrolling in college early or attending a national prep-school powerhouse.

"All of my (Running Start) credits matched up, so I could have done it (enrolling in college early)," Diallo said. "There were days I woke up and was going to do it, and others I'd wake up and was not going to do it.

"Ultimately, even though I will be missing this high school experience at Curtis, I still wanted a little bit of that."

There are obvious reasons why Diallo would make the move to Prolific Prep, which finished No. 4 in the country in SBLive's/Sports Illustrated Power 25 rankings: National exposure, increase in name, image, likeness (NIL) value and better competition.

But what sold Diallo most on Prolific Prep?

"What stuck out with me was the relationship. They poured a lot into getting to know my family and my dad," Diallo said. "They mapped out a plan for me what they see in these next months and how to get better."

Over the next couple of months, Diallo will continue to play with Beauchamp Elite on the Adidas 3SSB circuit before heading to Prolific Prep in mid-August. In the meantime, he has plenty of his mind on college choices - with Arizona, Florida State, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Texas and Washington leading the pack.

But he said he will continue to monitor Curtis basketball (and close-buddy Whitten's senior season) from afar.

"When I am in California, I will watch his games, and he will watch my games," Diallo said. "This is a big jump for him - and jump for his career."

(Featured photo by Erik Smith)