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Hamidou Diallo on playing this semester: “We’re playing it by ear”


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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:

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

9 responses to “Hamidou Diallo on playing this semester: “We’re playing it by ear””

  1. Sentient Third Eye

    “Coach, is Hamidou gonna play?”

  2. Shagaris Sock Puppet

    I called it a week ago when he was down to a few days to decide, this dude is for real! Not to hype myself up but to just say if you watch enough of his tape, he is a maniac in transition and he plays all across the country against the very best. Hes going to get better very quickly and I bet you will hear Cal asked and his statements will change for the better about him playing. It will start as him saying you see you just cant come in here and do what we do and take off, it doesn’t work that way, its a process and he needs to create some good habits… I say 3-4 weeks down the road he will get asked about Diallo again and he will have a different tone and approach to him. Now, he is a beast! A grinder, I told guys the other day if you don’t bring it, Ive got no choice to play the kid cause hes got that killer instinct and he puts us on another level defensively. Hes out here trying to steal minutes and its making us more competitive in practice. Defense turns into offense and in transition he will destroy the rim and get out ahead with the other guys in a a hurry! After last nights game we are 10 mins in and everyone’s in foul trouble, I instantly thought about his process and if its headed in the right direction in a few weeks, why not play him if we need him? Cals right, its a win win situation!

  3. thevaliantx

    I don’t think people are listening, The kid is very likely coming out in the draft, and Cal is using him to toughen up the team in practice. The key here is that Diallo himself said that the agreement is to keep him from being exposed before the 2017 draft.

    1. Sentient Third Eye

      Still a good deal for UK, I think, even if he never plays in a real game. Kanter was invaluable to us, and he never got into a game.

  4. @GoCayts

    You don’t want to get hurt if a game is chippy in the final 2 min of a blowout, but why wouldn’t he go out there when Brad goes in if nothing else. He may end up playing a little or possibly decent minutes. We have guards, but injuries and foul trouble happen. He may also decide to go pro. Let the kid do what he thinks is best and support him. He is part of the BBN family now.

  5. UK Fan In Nashville

    Well, we saw last night against a far inferior Vandy team what happens when our two star guards go out with foul trouble. Having Diallo available couldn’t hurt.

  6. 2thepoint

    He is going to play! There is room for him to play “if he gets the system”! Cal will see in practice if he can trust him in a game. How much time he gets will depend on him. If he is a lock-down defender that can shoot well he can get some time. I hope he does, but for someone to come in and immediately get what Cal is trying to do without disrupting chemistry and game situations will be very difficult.

  7. Luether

    Great post again, Mrs TT!

    1. UK Big Board Update

      Suckass.