During the many discussions surrounding next year’s team and the 2017 recruiting class, people forget the most important player is already on campus: Hamidou Diallo, 2017’s top-ranked shooting guard.
Diallo arrived on Kentucky’s campus for the spring semester to join the team, but only on the practice court. During games he sat on the sidelines. Diallo is using the time to physically improve, but also mentally prepare his team for the next season. That means he’s making sure his future teammates know what to expect when they arrive on campus.
“He just told us to be ready for it,” P.J. Washington said today. “I think it’s going to help him a lot, strength-wise, body-wise, getting his body right and his shot.”
Diallo talks to all of his future teammates periodically. He doesn’t have any horror stories, but there’s one message everyone hears: be ready. “Go in the gym and get ready for the season,” Nick Richards said.
Nobody talks to Diallo more than his future backcourt running-mate, Quade Green. The northeast guys have played basketball for many years and look forward to playing together again in Lexington.
“That’s like my best friend. I just got off the phone with him before we got here,” Green said at media day. “That’s my boy. He told me to come there and be ready to work, block all the noise out, block the fans out because they’re going to be crazy out there. He already told us it’s going to be crazy so we have to be focused.”
Diallo isn’t just talking to Kentucky’s commits, he’s talking to Cal’s recruits. “He really wants me to come in next year,” Kevin Knox said today. “He just really wants me to come there and play along with him.”
Diallo’s relationship with Mohamed Bamba goes way back too, maybe even further than Quade Green.
“I played on the same AAU team with Hami when we were in like eighth grade,” Bamba said. “I’ve always been tight with him.” Diallo’s message to Bamba is one we’ve heard from Calipari: “if you’re not trying to work, don’t come.”
Diallo has rarely been heard from, but he could be the cornerstone to Kentucky’s 2017-18 success.