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If Diallo Returns to Kentucky

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

After waiting on pins and needles since the NBA Combine, the first report on Hamidou Diallo’s NBA Draft decision revealed he will return to Kentucky.  While we wait for that to be confirmed by Diallo and UK, here’s what is potentially in play for next year’s team with Diallo in the starting lineup.

The Cats have Their Best Player

You can debate on who is the best player on the team.  The 247 Composite ranks Diallo as the No. 9 player in the 2018 class, one spot ahead of Kevin Knox and two spots ahead of Jarred Vanderbilt.  I give the tie to the guy who has a one semester head-start on his peers.

For those people who love rankings, with the addition of Diallo John Calipari will be working with nine Top 50 players, eight five-star recruits and six McDonald’s All-Americans.

Kentucky will be an Elite Defensive Team

You will hear basketball bennies use the term “lengthy” incessantly when describing this team.  Jarred Vanderbilt and Kevin Knox look like your traditional, lengthy small forward that can guard multiple positions, but Diallo’s wingspan still might be longer.  At 6’11,” opposing guards will not be able to shoot over him on the perimeter.

Combine those three with P.J. Washington, Nick Richards, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel, you will have four guys in the starting lineup with wingspans that are close to seven feet long.  Try passing around that.

A Highlight-Making Penetrator

Prepare to see opponents get dunked on.  Diallo can hit threes, but he makes his money driving and creating while attacking the rim.  His length and athleticism make him the perfect player for John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense.  If you’re looking for a former UK player comparison, Archie Goodwin is a poor-man’s Hami.

An Experienced Perimeter Player

We’ve learned throughout John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky that experience is overrated, but it always helps to have an important player who’s been there before.  In his one semester he learned some important lessons from some of the best:

  • How to practice.  All of the initial growing pains are out of the way.
  • How to compete every single day.  Most of these guys have been able to skate by throughout their careers, but as you saw in the 30 for 30, Coach Cal doesn’t put up with you if you aren’t constantly playing at 100 percent.
  • How to balance basketball with everything else.  From the fans to the classroom, he’s been there and can help his new teammates ease into the difficult transition into college basketball.
  • How to guard GREAT guards.  Diallo spent a semester dueling against De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe and Dominique Hawkins; three McDonald’s All-Americans, two Top Ten draft picks and a Sweet 16 MVP.  That experience is invaluable.

That list is an abbreviated guess.  I’m sure the lessons Hami learned from semester one in Lexington are countless.

Cam Johnson is (Probably) Out of the Picture

It doesn’t put the nail in the coffin of the graduate transfer’s recruitment, but it might as well.  Diallo will give UK four guards on the roster to play with small forwards who excel on the wing.  Johnson’s options elsewhere probably look much better than the crowded court in Kentucky.

Momentum

Diallo’s decision to return is arguably the biggest draft decision since the Harrison Twins followed in Willie Cauley-Stein’s footsteps and decided to return to UK after appearing in the 2014 National Championship (giving raise to my favorite line ever uttered on KSR: “Before they split defenders, they split a zygote.  The Harrison Twins return.”).  We all remember what happened the following year.  I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

If this report turns out to be malarkey, the Cats will be just fine, but the addition of an excellent shooting guard bumps Kentucky from a Top 15/Elite Eight team to a Top Five/National Championship contender.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

19 Comments for If Diallo Returns to Kentucky



  1. Luether
    7:43 pm May 23, 2017 Permalink

    Maybe…



  2. Catlogic15
    8:03 pm May 23, 2017 Permalink

    I thought “excellent shooting guard” would mean he would not be coming back. At least according to NBA folks. Didn’t his shot struggle in workouts?



    • ukkatzfan
      12:42 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

      If he did struggle in workouts, that was NBA. This is college, where he will face nba guards 8 times max in 40 games. Shoot the shots he chooses and to the rim with all others.



    • stl_cat
      8:35 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

      I assume he meant SG shooting guard the position, instead of saying he was a guard that was excellent at shooting



  3. Realme
    8:36 pm May 23, 2017 Permalink

    Calm down KSR. One guy with 2k followers claiming to have a source is not reason enough to do an app notification and two articles.



  4. CstlCAT22
    9:48 pm May 23, 2017 Permalink

    If Diallo returns we will be the same team… Young, very inexperienced, and full of talent. No one knows who will show up or turn out to be leaders. Common sense and experience says it will vary greatly. Good luck kid.



    • Shagaris Sock Puppet
      11:27 pm May 23, 2017 Permalink

      Except with him we will have him actually playing and dunking on people. . A 6’5 SG with crazy measurements and athleticism and he’s another body to have for depth. I like our young team with him better 😉



    • TBW3011
      8:22 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

      Same team? Lol. This team desperately needs guards. Diallo is needed in a bad way.



  5. Eazy
    11:55 pm May 23, 2017 Permalink

    We have 7 McDonald’s AAs already.



  6. Angelo
    1:31 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

    Archie Goodwin??? The Twins??? I want number 9!!!



  7. Joe B. Y'all
    8:00 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

    Hopefully he’s a much better decision maker than Archie Goodwin. I’d say today will be the first example of that, if he decides to wait a year and play his way into lottery money!



    • Shagaris Sock Puppet
      9:07 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

      A lot of fans act like Archie had all these super talented confident play makers around him. He played on one of Caliparis worse teams ever! Ryan Harrow destroyed that team with all the off the court issues and bad play making ability because of lack of confidence and Nerlens goes down before they could get a chance late in the season to click like most young Cal teams. Archie gets a bad wrap for all that and I guess its because he was the best player on the court after all that happened. He tried to will us but you cant do it all by yourself. I mean if he was horrible he would not still be in the league!



  8. nmichave
    8:54 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

    Ah….but will they win their elusive #9?? Titles!! We want TITLES! I’m 51 and before I die, I’d sure like to pass UCLA, but at this rate, not gonna happen.



  9. DT in DC
    9:16 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

    Any chance he comes back AND we get Johnson? Johnson has 2 years. We could sure use him in that 2nd year when all the other guards declare for the draft.



  10. CatBlue in LR
    11:51 am May 24, 2017 Permalink

    I feel a little better.



  11. sardiscat
    2:40 pm May 24, 2017 Permalink

    I’m getting tired of seeing writers overlooking Wynyard. He’s the one post player UK has who won’t get pushed around by veteran big guys on power conference teams, he has excellent touch and finishes when he gets the ball inside, has great hands, and doesn’t make turnovers trying to do things he can’t really do.



  12. 4everaCat
    4:35 pm May 24, 2017 Permalink

    I’ve been on here 20 times already today looking for his decision!! Really, really would love to see him in Blue next year!! Anybody that doesn’t believe he will make us a much better team with him in the lineup is nuts!!! He comes back and gets that year under his belt probably go lottery next year!! Gonna be fun to watch this team grow together!! I believe with or without him we have a better than good chance at #9.