Born in the Costa del Sol region in Southern Spain, of African descent and formed as a basketball player in Madrid, Golden Dike, the official starting C of a very stacked 2001-2002 Real Madrid junior team, has officially announced today that he has committed to join Loyola Maryland starting next season. As many a young Spanish talent before him, Dike had his breakout moment in the Minicopa, in his case in the 2015 edition celebrated in Las Palmas. After earning MVP honours in the U16 Spanish regional team championship, he would wind up joining Real Madrid just before the start of his junior stint — essentially at the end of what would be his sophomore year in high school.
An interesting wrinkle in Dike’s career is that his partner in the paint would always steal the bright lights from him. Whilst playing for Real Madrid, Dike would start at C beside Usman Garuba, arguably the best Spanish-born talent in recent years and a long-thought-to-be future lottery pick who regularly played up a year; on the Spanish National Team, Dike shared the paint with C Jaime Pradilla, a very early bloomer who was already playing in EBA (Spanish fourth division, semi-professional basketball) at age 15 and who was training with his club’s ACB team before his 18th birthday. Nonetheless, whatever leadership traits he did not develop were more than made up for with his early adaptation to a secondary role — which he can carry out to a high level.
In last summer’s U18 European Championships, Dike caught scouts’ eye. His performance earnt him an invite to the Basketball Without Borders camp in Belgrade. Before the event ended, Evan Daniels from 247sports published an article claiming that Dike had also attracted the attention of several American colleges and that Texas Arlington (where fellow Spaniard Jorge Bilbao played a few years ago) had expressed considerable interest in him.
This season, Dike has preserved his starting spot in Real Madrid’s rotation, although he has probably been overtaken as a prospect by possible lottery pick Amar Sylla. After good-but-not-great performances in marquee tournaments in Tenerife and at the Munich ANGT Qualifier, Dike has finally announced that he will join the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds next season.
FIBA U18 2018: 18 mpg, 6 ppg (70% FG, 40% FT), 3.3 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.3 bpg.
EBA 2018-2019: 17 mpg, 6.1 ppg (56.1 FG, 46% FT), 4,6 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.2 bpg.
ANGT Munich 2019: 20.1 mpg, 9.3 ppg (60% FG, 63.6% TL), 7 rpg, 1 apg, 0.3 bpg.
Dike’s Nigerian descent grants him a set of physical tools that is quite unusual in the European youth basketball scene. He has average size for a big man at 6’8 with a 6’10 wingspan, but he is stronger and tougher than most 18 year olds. Although this is mostly a good thing, he can sometimes get out of control and will struggle with foul trouble occasionally. Beyond that, Dike has good footwork and is an excellent roll man on the pick and roll. He is fast enough to guard both big man positions, although he may struggle with the quickest power forwards due to his average mobility.
On the other hand, Dike is not really an explosive player. He is a below average rim protector given his average size and his lack of a solid vertical leap, and will occasionally struggle to finish plays under the rim due to his lack of lift. His strength makes him special at the junior level, but he will likely struggle to translate that advantage at the professional level unless he can work on his body and maximise his explosiveness.
As mentioned above, Dike has already been a consistent role-player for a few years in his young career, and his characteristics as a player adapt well to that archetype. He has very good touch playing with his back to the basket and is able to score using hook shots with both hands. He knows how to use his body to carve out space in the paint offensively and has good instincts chasing defensive rebounds. He is quite agile, and is especially proficient at using baseline spin moves to score. Offensively, one of his best traits is his ability to be effective without needing to be the focal point of an offense — he is able to make the most of whatever touches he does get and can be productive on the offensive boards.
Two aspects were Golden Dike is not as effective currently, but that will likely dictate his future development as a player, are his passing and his dribbling. As a very physical big man, Dike shows surprisingly good passing instincts. He uses them especially when he cannot score in the low post, but he has also shown to be able to find his fellow big man in the paint — something that all four of Real Madrid’s big men do at a high level. He does, however, have room for improvement in this area. He has shown some tunnel vision at times, being unable or unwilling to find the open man for an easy shot and instead trusting his brute strength to carve out space inside and attempt a difficult finish.
Dribbling-wise, Dike has shown some interesting flashes at times when putting the ball on the floor. He rarely ventures beyond the midrange or high post areas, although he has had a few attempts from beyond the three point line. Although his first step is far from overwhelming, he can be tough to stop with a head of steam. An improvement in this area will be key for him, as it will likely be the foundation of his offensive game if he ever becomes a full time power forward.
Shooting-wise, Dike has not yet proven to be reliable or consistent from anywhere beyond the paint. The jumpshot is simply not a part of his offensive repertoire at this point in time, and his free throw shooting is not particularly promising either. Given his physical limitations as a finisher and the way the modern game is trending, any development in this area would make a considerable difference for his future development, as big men’s ability to space the floor and create room for their teammates is becoming more and more important.
On the defensive end, Dike is very dependent on his physical traits, for good or for ill. Given his strength, Dike can be a good post defender if his opponent is willing to battle it out inside. He is also a good defensive rebounder, as he has the willingness and the strength to outplay his opponents and get good position, although he can sometimes lose his focus and miss a box out. However, his lack of explosiveness and average size make him a below average rim protector. On the pick and roll, he has regularly been asked to hedge and recover to his man with mixed results: his lack of speed made it a challenge to recover to his man on time. Instead, Dike is clearly more comfortable playing drop coverage, giving the roll man some distance and forcing him to play one on one in the paint, where Dike is considerably more comfortable. This lack of speed can also hinder him when trying to switch on the pick and roll, where he is still far away from being a reliable option. Looking forward, it will be key for Dike to become a better positional defender and improve his timing and his understanding of defensive rotations to make the most of his physical traits.
Overall, Golden Dike is an big man player with the ability to be productive in limited time, and with a profile that will be immediately able to contribute. His strengths and weaknesses as a prospect are relatively clear at this point and always revolve around his physical traits. Up to now, Dike has been able to use his strength to his advantage against his age group, but this approach will likely be less effective at the next level. Despite being able to make good reads and execute some relative complex moves, the results have always been mixed due to his average decision-making and his confidence in making the physical move as opposed to the more efficient one. His mental and tactical development, therefore, will be key for the Costa del Sol native and will likely determine his ceiling as a player.