No. 1 SuperDraft pick Hamady Diop “just grateful” to join Charlotte FC


Upon learning he was going to Charlotte FC as the No. 1 overall pick in Wednesday's 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, Hamady Diop could hardly contain his elation.

The 20-year-old defender played his college soccer at nearby Clemson University, where he became one of the nation's top center backs and helped the Tigers to a 2021 NCAA College Cup title. He also earned Second-Team All-ACC honors after Clemson’s 2022 and 2021 seasons.

That all made him Charlotte's top target in Wednesday's draft, which saw them to St. Louis CITY SC to move up and select the Senegal native.

"It means a lot. It means they wanted me and they expect a lot from me, which is every young player's need," Diop told reporters on his post-draft video call. "I need someone to expect a lot from me because I expect a lot from myself. It's great, obviously; Charlotte is down the road. So when they trade that much money, it means a lot.

"I'm super excited to get started. If I could get started tomorrow I would fly to Charlotte right now, as soon as possible," he added.

Diop said he closely followed Charlotte's 2022 expansion season, which saw them set the single-game MLS attendance record (74,479) in their Bank of America Stadium home opener. They finished within six points of an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot, slotting ninth in the Eastern Conference table.

He'll also be reunited with former Clemson teammate and Charlotte goalkeeper George Marks, who was selected with the No. 57 overall pick (Round 3) in last year's SuperDraft.

"I followed up close and they were super close to making it to the playoffs," Diop said. "Two more wins they would make it, so it's super great for the first year. We haven't seen that in a while.

"I'm just grateful they picked me. I'm looking forward to growing as a person, as a player and competing every day."

In terms of skillset, Diop made his name at Clemson as a versatile defender who helped anchor the Tigers' title-winning defense. While his first-choice position is center back, Diop said he can also play out wide and prides himself on being a defender who's able to contribute on the scoresheet.

"As a player, I'm someone that really loves winning. I hate losing more, but I'll do anything to win," he said. "I like playing out of the back, playing center back, playing left back. I love going forward as well, scoring goals.

"I think they know already [what I can bring] because they picked me No. 1, so they expect a lot from me and I'm super excited to give them their reward."

Prior to the draft, Diop was one of 11 elite collegiate underclassmen signed to a Generation adidas contract. Per MLS rules, these contracts are not charged against a team’s annual salary budget.