John Calipari just wrapped up his press conference, and, predictably, the second question he fielded was about Hamidou Diallo, who is sitting out this semester to prepare for next year. Given Kentucky’s slump, playing Diallo is a tempting thought, especially given his reputation as a defensive stopper, but when asked, Calipari said he hasn’t given it a thought.
“No, because I haven’t – that’s not been in my mind,” Cal said.
One month in, how is Diallo doing in practice?
“He’s doing better. He’s doing better. He’s still – it’s hard. He’s been here a month. You’re trying to get other guys ready for games, so there are times he’s off the court. When he’s on the court, he has a spirit about him, a competitiveness about him, to go get balls, to make plays. He doesn’t play timid at all, so he’ll stand out in practice that way. But he’s just – he doesn’t know – to play with our guys and how we’re trying to play, that’s the hard thing right now. He’s only been here a month.”
Diallo addressed reporters after Cal and put speculation to rest when he confirmed the plan is for him to sit out this semester.
“Me and Coach spoke when I came here, it was with a certain plan, so the biggest thing for me is just sticking to that plan and this semester is just preparing me for next year for the most part.”
Given Kentucky’s issues the past few weeks, how hard has it been to stick to that plan?
“It’s been hard to do, but it’s a plan that I thought about — well thought about before coming, so it’s a plan that I think is best for me to stick to.”
Still, that’s the question on everybody’s mind, and yes, Diallo is aware.
“I couldn’t be able to tell you a number,” Diallo joked of how often he’s asked if he’ll play this year. “I just tell them I don’t know because at this point, me telling them the whole story would take a lot of time mostly.”
The temptation is understandable, especially after hearing Diallo’s answer to who the most difficult person to guard in practice has been.
“Nobody’s really that difficult for me to guard, honestly. They’re all good players and I’m a good defender.”
Yeah, that question’s not going anywhere.