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Hamidou Diallo’s inconsistent play has been key factor in Kentucky’s rough patch


To start the year, five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo looked like the athletic freak of nature we thought he’d be when he signed with Kentucky last January.

He scored at least 14 points in three consecutive games, and then had a scorching run at the end of November and through the month of December where he averaged 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and nearly two assists per game.

Diallo was able to attack the basket and earn points at the rim at will. Even when his jump shot wasn’t falling, and it did on a few occasions, he was able to impact the game in a variety of ways. His intensity was high on defense, and it often led to points in transition.

Just looking at his highlight tape from that stretch of games, you can tell the team looked completely different when Diallo’s intensity was up:

From that hot stretch on, however, Diallo has been a completely different player, and it has resulted in ugly play from the Wildcats and, ultimately, losses.

Since conference play began back on New Year’s Eve, Diallo is averaging just eight points on 31% shooting, 3.5 rebounds, and one assist, to go with 1.5 turnovers per game. He has zero confidence on his jump shot, and he refuses to attack the basket like he used to. Even on the few fast break opportunities he has had, Diallo hasn’t been able to lift off like we saw to start the year, and it has ended with offensive fouls, blocked shots, or missed layups. His basketball IQ has always been a work in progress, but it hasn’t improved like we’ve seen with other talented freshmen in the past.

Worst of all, we’ve seen Diallo argue with teammates and coaches on the bench, even getting into it with John Calipari on multiple occasions.

Just last night, Diallo committed a petty foul, and immediately yelled at Quade Green like it had something to do with his actions. His accountability when things go wrong has always been a big question mark, but the finger pointing has dramatically increased as of late.

He was a no-show in the first half last night against Texas A&M, but hit some big shots in the second when no one else could get anything going. And then the critical mistakes resurfaced, making the Jekkyl and Hyde performances we’ve come to love come full circle yet again.

Calipari has reduced his minutes as conference play has progressed, with a career-low 13 minutes coming against Tennessee, but the team hasn’t necessarily taken a step up with Diallo on the bench. They’re still missing the easy buckets the athletic guard used to provide, and his length on defense in crunch time moments like we saw in the second half against West Virginia would be massive in longer stretches.

Do they play him and hope he finds the competitive edge we saw to start the year? Back then, he was undeniably one of the best players on the floor and could truly dominate the game when he wanted to. Or do they try to bring him off the bench to let Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green provide an immediate scoring spark to start the games? Does it put a chip on Diallo’s shoulder?

The Cats are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to their talented shooting guard, and they’re running out of time to find an answer.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

48 responses to “Hamidou Diallo’s inconsistent play has been key factor in Kentucky’s rough patch”

  1. jukeydpt12

    “Shooting” guard used tentatively

  2. T-wah

    I’m not sure I remember a time this year when Hami was the best player on the floor or dominated. Anybody else?

    1. KYcats11

      He was incredible against Virginia Tech. When his shot is falling, that opens up the rest of his game as well.

    2. T-wah

      You may be right. It just seems like so long ago, I don’t even remember it. Since we’ve hit conference play, Hami’s game has really dropped off.

    3. unbridled

      Guy needs to sit…significantly more than he currently is.

  3. UKLugo

    Frankly, he’s been terrible with no signs of improvement, only regression. Is he uncoachable? Those are the signals I’m receiving.

  4. luke_emberton

    Transfer bye see ya later should’ve had Charles Matthews as a junior and nope we got this dud over here that is uncoachable and only cares about the NBA

    1. Booby Petrino

      Lol transfer. He’ll go pro before he transfers. And if Charles Matthews left because he was afraid of competing for a spot, how in the heck would he do is any good? And you might want to check their statistics. Matthews has a better fg percentage but that’s about it. Scores 5 less points a game, less rebounds per game.

    2. shelby

      This team hasn’t been the same since vanderbilt started playing. I think Diallo and/or green have attitude and effort problems. Quade came here to run the point but shai took his spot. Jared has taken many of diallo’s minutes. If i’m right, they need to grow up and put the team first.

    3. KYcats11

      While I hate seeing negativity on here day after day, and some fans need to learn to draw the line when bashing 18-19 year olds… That is the great thing about our fan base, your can never question how much we care. Oh by the way, there is no doubt that Cal is the right guy for this job, you crazy people need to stop with that nonsense.

    4. GregoryEarl

      Could not agree with you more. Calipari is trying to coach the youngest team in NCAA basketball this year besides the fact that it’s just a tough group that can’t seem to hit a jumper.

  5. Blublood41

    The dude shot 19% from three his senior year. How in the world do you rate a guy a 5* when you cant shoot?! I mean cmon its not just athletic ability. Im not trying to slam the kid, not at all. I just dont understand Cal’s recruiting strategy. There had to be guys out there that could shoot and be athletic…

    1. syrin23

      Exactly, and WHY would you recruit a shooting guard THAT CAN’T SHOOT! Show me ANY team EVER in the history of basketball that won a game because of their superior verticals. I can show you plenty of teams that won games solely because of their ability to shoot.

    2. catsarerunnin

      It’s interesting that many who are complaining about Hami were complaining last season when UK lost to UNC that had Cal played Hami in that game the Cats would have won. Oh ye with short memories…

  6. timewilltell

    This post is a mood point! Hami has only a few games left in KY uniform. HE Gone!!!

    1. jaws2

      Lets hope.

    2. Booby Petrino

      What kinda mood is the point?

  7. Blueballz

    He sucks. But he can jump really, really high

    1. kentuckybackupplayer

      maybe he should use that amazing vertical leap to get some rebounds.

    2. T-wah

      Except when he’s going in for a dunk and/or is being guarded in the lane. Then, suddenly, he can’t seem to jump much higher than I can (which isn’t very high).

  8. BamaCatz

    So tell me Jack Pilgrim what other factors or players should you be calling out? Should we blame the others as well for not playing up to their potentials? This is a team effort and when Hami is on the bench is there other factors/players that should be picking up the load? I prefer to support the Cats through thick and thin rather than bash them. Now that I have said my piece and have my fire retardant suit on… flame on.

    1. syrin23

      Sorry, but you can’t fix a problem if you don’t identify and acknowledge it first.

  9. callitlikeiseeit

    We are all obviously wrong as Cal puts guys in the NBA so he clearly has Diallo ready as well, we are just missing it. Same with the others, can’t beat a bad Vandy team at home without gifts but he is the master at prepping and making these guys pros.

  10. BlueDeuce

    Hami’s main issue is he wants to be the highlight rather than be the teammate. As of late, his reduced playing time has hurt him mentally and now he can’t buy a good play even when the other team hands them out for free!

    He argues with everyone on the floor, won’t pass when heading to the basket even if there is cutter or man wide open and can’t guard the perimeter. He had his ankles broke last night at A&M and was slow to many other plays. He needs to adjust his game to be a better teammate and things will start to fall in place for him I think. He’s super athletic and has talent…he only seems to want to help himself though and that has been his issue to me as the season has went on.

  11. Thunder32

    I Laugh at the writer of the story and the comments.. .. Everybody is a coach i see.. everybody knows. whats going on with the team.. everyone has all the answers.. all these articles are nothing but click material for people to trash a player or the team they are to be a fan of.. haha. rather hilarious..

    1. syrin23

      So you somehow think that his shooting percentage and scoring is some how higher than what they cited? idiot.

    2. Kat4Life

      Perhaps you should take your towering intellect to a meatier site.

  12. MatCauthon

    My thought is he has someone in his ear, maybe an agent, maybe just someone he trusts, but they’re telling him he just needs to “get his” cause he’s going pro and he needs to build his draft stock.

  13. Thunder32

    This starting to look like the looserville forums.. nothing but bad being spewed out..

  14. ilovekaturday

    We are playing like looserville too.

  15. binarysolo

    Those highlights look great, but you also have to consider who we were playing against.

    I believe he’s doing his best, he’s just way too in his head. He’s gone after this year anyway so who cares?

  16. Swizzle

    He is terrible

  17. SanDiegoCats

    Could be a really good team next year. Knox and diallo will be gone. We’ll see with shai. But I think we will be a really solid team.

    1. Rembrandt

      Knox, Diallo, and Gilgeous Alexander will be gone. Wynyard might be gone too. Green, Baker, Gabriel, Vanderbilt, Washington, Killeya Jones, and Richards will probably be back. Quickley, Herro, and Johnson are coming in. Cal needs to sign another big and another wing in April. The big better be able to defend, and the wing better be able to score efficiently.

  18. BigBlueNationDude

    Stupid thinkin of me to question playing Hami last year. Could you imagine Hami and Briscoe together.

    1. ilovekaturday

      That would have equaled about 15% from 3.

    2. Rembrandt

      Yes, it was stupid for people to bitch about Diallo not playing last year. But that’s the kind of feedback that comes on the net when a bunch of clueless people with computers are convinced they know more than our hall of fame coach.

  19. chris43

    Diallo was supposed to be the #1 shooting guard in the class. I’m sorry but I don’t see it as I’d take Sexton from Bama over him any day of the week. He can’t shoot and is like a bull in a China shop on most drives. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 on 2 or 1 on 4….he won’t pull back and set up a play. I figured at the least he’d be a Sportscenter Top 10 dunking machine…but shockingly haven’t even seen much of that.

  20. jahanc2uky

    Hami could be replaced by Richards, PJ or Knox. The only difference is Hami hasnt done anything of recent to help us. However this season has been nothing but inconsistent.

  21. kjd

    “shooting guard” ……your a really funny guy Jack Pilgrim.

  22. Kat4Life

    He was exposed at acutely overrated on the Team USA games last summer. Freak athlete, crappy basketball player

  23. sp

    He missed his calling in track and field. He’s never going to be a professional basketball player. At least not in the NBA.

    1. Rembrandt

      I don’t necessarily agree. There are lots of super-athletic, low basketball IQ playets in the NBA. They don’t win chanpionships and they don’t last on the top NBA teams, but you can find them all over the rosters of bad NBA teams and in the D league. If Diallo can score in transition and work on his jump shot, he can play for a lot of bad NBA teams. A year from now, I believe Diallo will be a D league player.

  24. hartlines left arm

    I saw something’s a few times this year with Hami that have me wondering if he is playing with some sort of injury.

  25. Alleykat16

    When shots are not falling the best looks bad these kids are years away from a finished product if they continue playing at next level and not all is going to make it in the NBA or any where else. Every player that comes through here aren’t going to make it that’s just a fact and some are going to get better but if they work hard and do as this coaching staff are telling them they will have a better chance

  26. unbiasedfan

    I love them as much as anybody in the state or country for that matter. As bad as I hate to say it, they just are not as talented as any recruiting class we’ve had. Zero alpha dogs, and before any one of them could even come close to taking over a game, they would have to be hot like on a roll, before they could even do that. The only bright spot is that if they prove they can become unselfish, either next year or the one after, they will probably become one of the best teams we’ve seen under Calipari because of their experience that they will gain from staying.