Hamidou Diallo officially announced he will leave the University of Kentucky with a heartfelt message to the fan base.
“Thank you to the Big Blue Nation,” Diallo said. “You took in a kid from New York and made him one of your own. I love you guys and can’t thank you enough for believing in me and supporting me through everything.”
But to say the entire Big Blue Nation believed in Diallo and supported him isn’t exactly true. There was a portion of the BBN, albeit a small one, that was very hard on Diallo on social media — and he saw it. He was hurt by the negativity behind the scenes as his struggles on the court worsened, midway through his only full season in Lexington.
And it was fair to be critical of Diallo during that time because he was in a pretty big funk and did more to hurt his team than help it in some games. It wasn’t a lack of trying or caring, though; but more so a case of simply not being what everyone hoped and expected he would be right away. As a five-star guard with NBA expectations right out of the gate, his time at Kentucky was a little disappointing, given the hype.
So now that he’s off to pursue his dreams, how will you remember Diallo’s time at Kentucky? To you, was he a bust or a kid whose projected ceiling was too high to begin with?
I’ll remember him as the kid who kept me up until midnight the night before the deadline to announce his return. I (along with everyone else) refreshed Twitter a million times that evening, waiting for whatever decision he would make. Then celebrated when he announced his return.
I’ll remember Diallo as the mysterious practice player fans were dying to see in games late in the 2016-17 season, when in reality, he wouldn’t have made a difference. Many of you were all over Calipari for leaving him on the bench in street clothes when he had only been on campus a couple of months.
I’ll remember Diallo for hitting a three-pointer early in the game against Virginia Tech, then turning to a Virginia Tech assistant and yelling, “I got your non-shooter right here.” For a moment, he silenced his critics who said he couldn’t shoot, myself included. He hit four that game.
I’ll remember Diallo for being the only UK player to play well in their homecoming. He shined in Madison Square Garden last December.
I’ll remember Diallo for that dunk against Buffalo.
Hamidou Diallo dejó además este gran póster tras rebote ofensivo: pic.twitter.com/qo10SU8Hdb
— Esperando Marzo (@esperandomarzo) March 18, 2018
And that other dunk against Buffalo.
But sadly, I’ll most remember Diallo for his January and February, in which he played poorly and it weighed him down on and off the court. The “Inside The Madness” Facebook series gave us a glimpse of what he was dealing with as he struggled, and it only made us want him to succeed even more.
Then there was Calipari’s comment about Diallo: “It’s your son and he’s struggling. It’s your son now, not somebody else’s son. Your son. Would you want me to just bench him and say, ‘We’ll worry about it next year?’ That’s what you’d want me to do with your son?” It was clear Calipari had Diallo’s back when very few others did.
So as I said, unfortunately, I’ll most remember Diallo for his tough times, and not his best games and contributions to the team, or how he truly appreciated his Kentucky uniform. Maybe it’s our own fault for wanting to much out of him?
How do you perceive Hamidou Diallo’s short career at UK?