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K-State picks up graduate transfer Sallah

Mawdo Sallah will become a Wildcat in 2017.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Mount St Mary's vs Villanova Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State basketball team didn’t spend much time depleted underneath in the wake of forward Isaiah Maurice’s dismissal.

Mawdo Sallah, a graduate transfer, didn’t hesitate to fill the spot, either.

A 6-foot-9 junior forward who spent the last three seasons at Mt. Saint Mary’s, Sallah announced his transfer to Kansas State Monday afternoon on Twitter just four days after Maurice’s dismissal from the team.

Sallah will have two years of college eligibility, beginning immediately.

“I am excited to play at Kansas State University for the next two years,” he wrote.

Sallah, originally from Latri Kunda, Gambia, averaged 6.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game last season for Mt. Saint Mary’s.

His coach there, Jamion Christian, said Sallah is only improving.

“He’s a guy you’ve got to kick out of the gym; a real hunger to improve himself,” Christian said in a phone interview. “Really a high-potential person. Big belief in himself, and a big belief in the team dynamic. He’s really going to make Kansas State basketball better.”

Sallah’s is an unusual path to Kansas State. After announcing his intent to leave Mt. Saint Mary’s in the spring, he then committed to UNC-Wilmington. Complications there freed Sallah, who decided on K-State soon after Maurice’s dismissal opened the door.

Sallah redshirted the 2015-16 season with an injury, which gives him his two years of eligibility.

Tyler Dreiling of KMAN was the first to report. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported it as well.

K-State’s newest addition is relatively inexperienced at the sport. Christian said Sallah has only been playing basketball for roughly six years. His desire to improve, though — and his 7-foot-3 wingspan — has driven his success.

“When I say he works hard, I’m talking two to three times in the gym a day — on his own, or with a coach, or with a graduate assistant,” Christian said. “He’s a guy that’s going to get the most out of his ability because of how hard he works.”

As for what sparked Sallah’s interest in K-State, Christian pointed to last year’s NCAA Tournament First Four, when Sallah was able to watch the Wildcats warm up in Dayton, Ohio.

From there, after talking with K-State coach Bruce Weber and his staff, and upon Maurice’s dismissal, Sallah pulled the trigger.

“Because of recent developments at Kansas State an opportunity presented itself,” Sallah wrote in his Twitter post. “This time I had to jump on it immediately.”

Sallah will join an inexperienced group of forwards at K-State, among them freshmen Nigel Shadd and Levi Stockard.

“We are excited to not only get a quality player like Mawdo at this late of a date, but also a terrific student-athlete who will graduate in three years from Mount St. Mary’s,” Weber said. “Obviously at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, he fills an immediate need for us in the post, while also bringing Division-I experience having played at such a successful mid-major program. His upside is terrific, as he has only been playing basketball for the last five or six years, including just two in college. He also brings great maturity and strong leadership abilities. He is driven to be successful not only on the court, but also in the classroom.”

Christian said he expects his former player to contribute right away.

“I think as his experience increases, his rebounding will continue to increase,” Christian said. “(K-State is) getting a guy who started every game for us, played 25 minutes a game. They’re really getting a seasoned guy.”

An official announcement is expected from K-State soon, at which time this story will be updated.