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Three reasons not to sweat Hamidou Diallo’s decision

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

Chet White | UK Athletics

As the NBA Combine begins today, the biggest storyline of the event is the mystery surrounding UK freshman guard Hamidou Diallo.

Diallo opted to not participate in five-on-five competition, only going through measurements and individual workouts for teams. He posted the highest wingspan of any guard at the event at 6’11, and in the vertical testing, he reportedly forced the Combine staff to raise the bar (literally) because he jumped so high (44.5” vertical.)

After today’s testing, he told reporters “I wouldn’t mind going back to the University of Kentucky… I 100% have both doors open.”

Things are up in the air right now, but don’t sweat it.

Here’s why you shouldn’t worry about Diallo’s decision:

NBA scouts and executives think he needs to come back to school

Though it was expected Diallo would dominate in measurements and testing at the NBA Combine, apparently both scouts and league executives thinks it would be in his best interest to come back to school.

In an interview with SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, NBA scouts were pretty critical on Diallo and the uncertainty that surrounds his game.

Here are just a few quotes from the article found here:

“He’s a crap shoot,” another scout said. “I don’t know how you pick him. He’s got to come into a workout and really dazzle you, and then maybe you pick him in the middle to bottom of the second round. But there’s just not enough of a sample size to make a good, educated decision on him.”

“Can I say he’s a sure-fire NBA player? No way.”

“Right now, he’s a D-League player,” said one scout, “but someone who is so interesting as a prospect that, if you have multiple first-round picks or an early second, he would be great to invest in. It just comes down to the right team having to come through – someone with a D-League team, the perfect situation, maybe a playoff team that can let him develop – otherwise, it’s probably in his best interest to come back and work on his shooting and get bigger and stronger.”

According to Jeff Goodman and ESPN, at least one executive believes Diallo’s lack of feel for the game and inability to make shots will push him back to Kentucky next season.

He enrolled at the semester break last year but didn’t play for the Wildcats. Diallo is a big-time athlete, but the knock on him is his feel for the game and ability to make shots from the perimeter. “He’s a freak athlete but has so much to learn,” one NBA executive said. Another wondered whether it might not be advantageous to leave now, for fear of being exposed at the college level.

Range: Early second round

NBA says: Back to school

In the same Goodman article, another executive had similar concerns in Diallo’s current abilities.

“To me, you would think Kentucky would kind of want him to play in a sense, if they want him back, because the knock on him from NBA guys that saw him in practice, they said he doesn’t have great feel. Great athlete, doesn’t have great feel yet.”

When asked by reporters, Coach Cal said he wouldn’t push Diallo to come back if he was a lock for the first round.

“If someone is going to draft [Diallo] in the first round, it’s hard for me to tell him to come back,” Calipari said. “That’s what this is for.”

Calipari was optimistic, however, there was a chance Diallo returned to school. When asked what it would take for the Kentucky freshman to stay in the draft, he responded, “It would have to be in the first round: 20, 21, 22.”

It just takes one team, but the criticism has to be taken as good news for fans wanting to see Diallo return to Kentucky.

Kevin Knox

The big reason Kentucky fans were worried about Diallo’s potential departure fell in the scoring department. Diallo was/is expected to be UK’s primary scorer next season, and when he opted for the Draft, many felt the Wildcats wouldn’t have enough weapons to put points on the board.

With Knox now committed to Kentucky, the Wildcats have a go-to scorer, giving fans a massive sigh of relief.

Knox has the potential to put up over 20 points a game at UK, giving the Cats a Justin Jackson-esque mismatch nightmare for opposing teams. When it looked like the 6’9 forward was headed elsewhere combined with the unknown factor surrounding Diallo, the Cats had a big fat question mark at the shooting guard position.

Should Diallo return, a backcourt of Quade Green, Diallo, and Knox will be one of the most dominant in the nation, giving the Wildcats a unique combination of scoring, shooting, and athleticism. Throw versatile forwards PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt in the mix, and UK has a surplus of weapons next year.

If Diallo stays in the draft, there are a few other scoring options available, but Knox’s addition answers that big scoring question and makes life so much easier for next year. Knox can slide in at the SG position with Vanderbilt at SF and Washington at PF, and we’re talking about the biggest team in America.

We’d certainly love to see Diallo return, but his decision isn’t make or break for the Wildcats anymore with Knox in fold.

Cameron Johnson is still an option

At the NBA Combine today, Coach Cal was asked about the 2017 recruiting class, to which he responded, “We’re not done yet.”

We all know Mohamed Bamba is the prized recruit still on the table, but Pittsburgh transfer Cameron Johnson comes in at No. 2 on the priority list for the Wildcats.

If Diallo comes back, Pittsburgh transfer Cameron Johnson heads elsewhere and Kentucky is left with one of the most athletic players in the country. If Diallo leaves, Johnson is an extremely likely option for the Wildcats.

After taking a look at Kentucky and Arizona, he has a list of visits scheduled, with UCLA being the most recent and his trip to Oregon beginning today. He says he is in no hurry to make a decision, waiting for the dust to settle on some of the NBA decisions set to be finalized in the coming weeks.

You’ve seen the numbers on the site several times. 42% from three, 6’8 with great length, two years of eligibility left, etc. He’s a perfect fit for Kentucky if Diallo decides it’s in his best interest to stay in the draft.

Besides, can you imagine what a starting lineup would look like with two 6’8-6’9 scorers starting at the wings? Knox is already mismatch hell for opposing defenses. Add in another guy like Johnson? Woah baby.

The ideal situation is for Diallo to return, but UK has a backup plan that would provide a massive impact as well. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.


We have John Calipari.

When all else fails, rely on the guy that has taken the Wildcats to four Final Fours, two title games, and one championship in eight years with a bunch of freshmen.

When there are question marks on the horizon, Calipari somehow always manages to give us the best answers of all.

That is all.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

19 Comments for Three reasons not to sweat Hamidou Diallo’s decision

  1. timewilltell
    9:24 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    3 best ways to not sweat this decision

    1. Don’t read the every-five-minutes posts from KSR
    1A . Don’t read the every-five-minutes posts from KSR
    1B. Don’t read the every-five-minutes posts from KSR

  2. jim tom
    9:25 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    You also have a coach that chokes in big game tight situations and 1 title in 7 years with 2 million NBA players

    • 4everblue
      9:36 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

      You’re on the wrong site bro! Go back to UofLittleBrother!

    • catsarerunnin
      9:41 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

      He’s easily confused hence the two first names.

    • a21CATSfan
      10:06 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

      That same coach also has the most wins, tournament wins, Sweet 16s, Elite 8s and Finals 4s in the last decade. He has a championship and resides in something called the Hall of Fame. He’s not the worst recruiter ever either. I’ll take it! CATS

    • jim tom
      10:36 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

      Duke 2 titles . U conn 2 titles no gold standard here

    • Jazz1124
      8:27 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

      You really trying to argue Uconn is more of a gold standard than UK just because they got hot in 12 games this decade? You’re just not looking at the whole picture. You can’t even argue something like that.

  3. jim tom
    10:34 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    Wisconsin 3 straight hold the ball shot clock violations. Period

  4. jim tom
    10:37 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    Missed free throw after missed free throws. Cost Memphis and cats two titles.

  5. jim tom
    10:38 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    Out coached again this year by Roy boy. Zone defense no offensive adjustment nuther tight game choke loss

    • catsarerunnin
      7:56 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

      If there was a site where every move you made was documented,there wouldn’t be enough time to read about your endless stupidity.

  6. AllBlueAllDay
    10:43 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    I get the feeling you’re a swell guy to be around…

  7. BBNDan7
    10:46 pm May 11, 2017 Permalink

    I’d be mad too if my parents named me Jim tom

  8. Herby22788
    1:04 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

    Is Johnson and Diallo possible? Do they have the scholarships?

  9. BiasedBigfoot
    2:20 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

    Really enjoyed the article Jack.

  10. Randall lee
    5:35 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

    Jim Tom chokes too, I guess I was thrusting to hard.

  11. Jazz1124
    8:30 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

    This dude really putting Uconn and “gold standard” in the same sentence? Lol loss of credibility immediately. Talk about a choke job? What about the year uconn had Drummond and did absolutely nothing?

  12. Jazz1124
    8:31 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

    This dude really putting Uconn and “gold standard” in the same sentence? Instant loss of credibility right there. What about the choke job the whole year they have Drummond? They were so loaded. Duke is the only team comparable to UK.

  13. chrisg18
    8:51 am May 12, 2017 Permalink

    Cameron Johnson is really the only reason to be optimistic about this situation. I might even argue that Johnson would be a better fit for the college game while Diallo is the better pro prospect. But no Johnson and no Diallo and we have a huge hole at the shooting guard positon, even with Knox.