The Kentucky Wildcats have officially added Hamidou Diallo to their team, the school announced Wednesday.
Diallo is now eligible to play in games this season, though the expectation is he’ll redshirt. The hope is Diallo uses this opportunity to practice, develop and prepare to take on a big role with the team next season.
The 6-5, 195-pound guard out of Putnam Science Academy (CT) is regarded as one of the best 2017 has to offer. 247 ranks him ninth overall in 2017. ESPN ranks him 11th, while Rivals has him ranked 10th.
“I’m blessed and excited to be here at the University of Kentucky,” Diallo said via press release. “I can’t wait to hit the floor and get rolling and get better each and every day. I chose the University of Kentucky because the plan Coach Cal had for me was just phenomenal and I felt like this was the best place for me to achieve my goals. I felt like this was the best choice for me and my family.”
Adding a player like that to sixth-ranked Kentucky seems like a tempting proposition, being that it would make this an even more dangerous title contender. However, adding a player even of Diallo’s talent midseason is a challenging ordeal. It can not only hurt the chemistry this team already has, but also risk playing Diallo when he’s simply not ready for the speed of college basketball.
This is a move made by Diallo it help him be as prepared as possible to be an impact player next year, which could lead to him being a high selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.
“What excited me was that Hamidou wanted more than anything else to train with our guys and to practice and wasn’t worried about playing games this year,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “It gives him an unbelievable head start on next year, and as I told him, he’s being put in a position to lead next season because he’s going to have that head start on everyone else.
“As far as what Hamidou can do, he’s a 6-5, 6-6 wing who is an unbelievable defender, athletic, has great ball skills and is a terrific finisher. He’s going to challenge Malik (Monk), De’Aaron (Fox), Isaiah (Briscoe), Mychal (Mulder) and Dominique (Hawkins) every day, which is great for our team, as well as what they’ll challenge him to do. This wasn’t expected, but I’m so happy for him that it’s played out this way where he can come in and focus on getting better and getting ready to chase his dreams.”
In his final season in high school, in 2015-16, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior season before graduating in the fall. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior.