Hamidou Diallo is in a familiar situation. A borderline first round NBA draft pick in 2017, after returning to Kentucky for a year of college basketball Diallo remains on the fringe, hopeful he can convince a team to select him in the first round.
Diallo’s only season in a Kentucky uniform was filled with ups and downs. He did not expect to endure so much adversity. He expected to become a lottery pick. Even though that did not happen, he would not change a thing.
“No regrets, none,” Diallo said. “I had one foot in the NBA, one foot in college. I was not 100 percent sure I wanted to go into the NBA. I feel like I made the best decision to go back to school, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same exact way. I feel like I made the right decision.”
In a wonderful profile by Sporting News, Diallo did not hide from his flaws at Kentucky. He knows where he struggled. Instead of shying away from shortcomings, he embraced them as learning lessons.
“The best thing I learned at Kentucky this year was, how to fight myself, how to conquer myself,” Diallo said. “When I say conquer myself, I mean when things aren’t going my way, what type of player am I? What type of teammate am I? Not just basketball — you wake up in the morning, you are late, you are late for class, you miss the bus. It’s raining. You’re not having a good day, you miss breakfast. How are you going to perform in practice that day?
“What if game-day routine is thrown off, how do you handle it? What kind of player are you going to be on that day? That’s when you need to conquer yourself.”
Diallo is no stranger to adversity. The son of Guinean immigrants, he has witnessed what it takes to be successful when the odds are unfavorable. Diallo is taking the hard-working mentality his parents taught him into workouts with NBA teams. This weekend he’ll be in his hometown, working out with the Nets on Friday and the Knicks on Saturday, before wrapping up his pre-draft tour with the Bucks next week.
In one year at Kentucky, Hamidou Diallo did not post the numbers of a future NBA superstar, but he learned difficult, invaluable lessons that will pay dividends in the near future.