This morning, recruiting guru Evan Daniels released a new episode of his podcast in which he interviewed the newest Wildcat, Hamidou Diallo. The five-star shooting guard announced this past weekend he will enroll at Kentucky this semester and is expected on campus in the coming days, and although the plan has been for him to sit out this year to develop and practice against Kentucky’s guards, he hinted to Daniels that may not be set in stone yet.
“I would say, right now we’re just playing it by ear,” Diallo said when asked if he will sit out this semester. “We just don’t want to rush into things. I just don’t want to go over there and put on a Kentucky jersey and just play. Just trying to protect me as much as possible. First, I’m going to have to get used to things. I mean, me just getting used to things, me just getting used to the college game. That’s pretty much the biggest thing of why I would sit out this year but right now, we’re just playing it by ear. We’re trying to see what happens within these next four months.”
Diallo will be eligible for this summer’s NBA Draft, and although John Calipari sold him on staying at Kentucky for a year and a half, he said he hasn’t ruled coming out in this year’s draft out either.
“I mean, right now, I’m just playing everything by ear. I haven’t completely ruled anything out. Right now, I’m just worried about getting up on Kentucky’s campus and just getting ready to put that work in and that’s pretty much it. I haven’t ruled anything out though, if that’s what you mean. I’m just happy to be a Wildcat right now. That’s pretty much it.”
Regardless, Diallo said he chose Kentucky because of the opportunity to train against the best guards in the country.
“Those are great guards right there,” Diallo said of Isaiah Briscoe, Malik Monk, and De’Aaron Fox. “Me just playing against them right there, that’s going to help me and help them because they’ll have a better defender to guard them of course and that could prepare them for the next level and prepare them for games as well. For me, just getting used to guarding the best of the best guards in the country.”
While UConn recruited him the longest, Diallo said he “fell in love” with Kentucky on his visit a few weeks back.
“I would say I picked the Wildcats because, I mean, when I went up there, I just fell in love with them. I felt like it was the best decision for me and I just felt the level of basketball was just very different and everything — they had the best plan for me to make it to the next level.”
Specifically, Diallo said he was impressed by what Kentucky’s players had to say about assistant coach Kenny Payne, and how he can help him develop for the pros.
“I would say the training part,” Diallo said when asked what appealed to him most about Kentucky. “Coach KP [Kenny Payne], a couple of the guys telling me Coach KP is always in the gym. He’s in the gym with you at night, he’s in the gym with you in the morning. He always wants to put in work and he wants you to get better to see your dreams come true.”
Diallo said he made the decision to enroll in college this semester about a month and a half ago, and when he met with Calipari, Cal thought it was a win-win situation for both sides.
“He just thought it would be a great idea. Just coming in there, getting a couple of months under my belt early, he thought it would be a great idea and he thought it would be a good situation for the both of us.”
Who knows what will happen with Diallo, but one thing is certain: whether or not he plays this semester will be the hot topic on every pre- and postgame show this season.
Lots of good stuff in this interview, so give it a listen before this morning’s radio show by clicking this link or listening in the player below: