Editor’s Note: Below is Jack Pilgrim’s feature on Diallo from earlier this week. Tonight the nation’s No. 1 shooting guard announced he will be enrolling at Kentucky next week for the spring semester.
A few weeks back, I wrote an article on the pros and cons of an early commitment from 5-star SG Hamidou Diallo, specifically talking about the impact he would make on Kentucky this year as a player. At the time, the big rumor being discussed was Diallo being eligible to participate immediately, meaning he would throw on a jersey and get tossed in with the sharks in conference play.
Now, reports are saying he will enroll early at the school of his choice, but would likely sit out this semester and focus his efforts on preparing for next season.
Though he’s announcing his decision tomorrow at 5 PM, nearly every recruiting analyst is predicting Kentucky to land the high-flying guard. His last visit was to Lexington, Calipari visited him in person last week, and he shut down his recruitment fairly soon afterward. UK’s spring semester begins next week, whereas UCONN (the other “favorite” in his recruitment) doesn’t start classes until the week after. When you put all the puzzle pieces together, UK is the team to beat.
Let’s put our
hypothetical realistic goggles on and say he throws on a Kentucky hat tomorrow afternoon…
What impact will it make on the team for this season and beyond?
UK now has a five-star prospect locked up at every position in 2017
Considered the No. 10 prospect in the nation and the best overall shooting guard, Diallo would give the Wildcats a five-star commitment at every position next season. That’s just ridiculous.
Quade Green at point guard, Hamidou Diallo at shooting guard, Jarred Vanderbilt at small forward, PJ Washington at power forward, and Nick Richards at center. Oh, and for good measure, add in a four-star point guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that is dominating right now and very well may end up as a five-star when it’s all said and done.
The recruiting class is already stacked, yet guys like Trae Young, Mohamed Bamba, and Kevin Knox are still considering the Wildcats and could be added in the Spring.
Factor in Isaac Humphries, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Wenyen Gabriel possibly coming back next year, and we could be talking anywhere from seven to 11 five-stars on the team next season. That’s just filthy.
Many considered the 2017-18 Kentucky team to be more of a “transition” year, but it’s developing into yet another dominant group under Calipari.
Diallo will have an extra five months to prepare for next season
Coach Cal is the best coach in the world at getting freshmen athletes to perform at the highest level. With Diallo, Calipari is going to have five extra months to work with the five-star guard out of Queens, NY and fine-tune his game for next season. That’s just scary.
Just think about that for a second. Diallo has the opportunity to go heads up against the greatest backcourt in the nation every day, develop his skill at the college level, and go through SEC and NCAA Tournament preparations while the rest of his recruiting class is sitting in class in high school. Oh, and then he gets to come back to work in the summer when the rest of the 2017 class shows up and is just getting started.
Nearly all of the criticism Diallo has received has been surrounding his shooting ability, but outside of that, he’s considered a pretty complete player. Athleticism, finishing ability, rebounding, defense, etc., the kid does it all. By coming in five months early and working on his jump shot every day, the potential for Diallo is through the roof.
This year’s squad gets the perfect practice dummy
The development for Diallo will be incredible going into next year, but you better believe his presence will make an impact on the guys already on the team.
When you look at the games UK has struggled in this season, guys like Justin Jackson (UNC), Deng Adel (UofL), and Isaac Hamilton (UCLA) were the Wildcats’ kryptonite. They had no answer on defense for the length and athleticism, no matter who was thrown their way. Insert Hamidou Diallo.
Diallo might not be getting minutes this season, but he’ll be able to emulate that same length and athleticism in practice that has given Kentucky fits. With a ridiculous 6-11 wingspan, Diallo will be a pest on defense and would provide a unique skillset on offense to defend in practice. Isaiah Briscoe has been “that guy” this year to defend similar players, but Monk, Gabriel, Mulder, and Willis have also given it their best shot. Each of them will have the opportunity to face it every day in practice, preparing them for similar situations when post-season play comes around.
Long story short, Diallo’s commitment
would will be massive for his development, this team’s ability to defend the three, and next year’s Calipari squad.
Come on down, Hamidou.