The long-awaited decision of Hamidou Diallo is finally upon us.
The five-star shooting guard out of Putnam Academy in Connecticut will make his college decision Saturday at a ceremony in front of friends and family. He technically has six finalists, but this is widely viewed as a two-horse race between Kentucky and UConn.
But because Diallo is a year graduated from high school as he finishes up a year in preparatory school, he is eligible to enroll in a college for their second semester of classes. He’s now planning to do that and join the Wildcats or Huskies next week, and UK is the heavy favorite heading into Saturday.
However, there are still a lot of unknowns in regards to whether he’ll play this season, and if he’ll enter the 2017 NBA Draft, which he is eligible for since he’ll be a full year removed from his graduating high school class.
Ahead of Saturday’s decision, Scout.com’s Evan Daniels still thinks UK is the favorite.
"I like Kentucky in this one," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "They’ve done a really good job recruiting them — not that the others haven’t — but I think they’ve laid out a plan that he likes, and I would consider them the favorite heading into Saturday’s announcement."
Daniels also doesn’t see Diallo entering the draft after just one college semester.
"I don’t think that’s on the table," he said. "I think he’s going to enroll and work out with the team. … He wants to get to college, get in a college weight room, get in a college practice and go against college players and get better.
"The truth is, Hamidou has maxed out his potential as a high school player, and he can go into a college environment and really work on his game."
However, Daniels does think Diallo goes through the NBA draft workout process in May, which means he may not be locked into next year’s team until after those conclude.
"I believe that his mindset is that he is going to play at Kentucky next season," Daniels said. "But I also think he’ll at least go through the (draft) process. It would surprise me if he didn’t test the waters like everybody else."
With the decision upcoming, we gathered our staff for a final roundtable on Diallo, what he would mean to UK, and what his pick will be.
Since Diallo technically graduated from high school last year, he has the option of taking the Thon Maker route and foregoing college altogether. Most people close to him, though, think he plans to play the 2017-18 season in college.
His college decision on Saturday is going to hinge on whether or not he wants to enter the 2017 NBA draft. If he wants to enter the draft this year, he will choose Connecticut. If he plans to play in college next year, he will enroll at Kentucky. It really is that simple. The only way he chooses UConn is if he plans to play immediately and only play for one semester.
I cannot imagine that Coach Cal would be interested in Diallo unless he was committed to playing next season. Even if he wanted to, this 5-star recruit would not see the court for the Cats at this point in the season. So since Coach Cal is still interested, you have to think Diallo will be around for another year. If that's the case, I can't see him choosing UConn.
Adding another 5-star to yet another loaded class, Diallo chooses Kentucky on Saturday and may even be in Rupp when the Cats host Arkansas.
Hamidou Diallo committing to Kentucky, assuming that he does, has a multitude of impacts on next year’s team. He is a proficient slasher and finisher at the rim, which goes along well with Quade Green, Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington, and Nick Richards who are all exceptional players around the rim.
The only downside to that aspect of it is that 2017's team is going to have a scarcity of offense from the perimeter. It would also mean that Kentucky is likely not going to get commitments from Kevin Knox or Trae Young, who may have been better fits because of their proficiency as jump shooters.
Regardless, Diallo would fill the gaping hole that is the two guard spot that Kentucky is going to need in 2017.
Diallo is coming to Kentucky. Sharpie!
The kid knows that to make his dreams come true, he needs Cal and UK. So he commits to the fold now. Does he play or make a difference this season? No. But he will sit, practice and learn, and that means he'll be just what the doctor ordered for next year. The Cats need a scorer, and that's what they will get in Diallo. Now they just need a shooter.
Kevin Knox, maybe? That'd be amazing.
Hamidou Diallo would be a huge addition to the Kentucky Wildcats’ backcourt for next season. He is a crazy athletic shooting guard that would perfectly compliment Quade Green at the point position. He is the top-ranked player at his position and would give Kentucky their fifth five-star player in the recruiting class.
The biggest upside will be his impact on next year's team if he doesn't play this season. All of Kentucky's guards will either graduate or be in the NBA next season, unless Isaiah Briscoe decides to come back, but that is highly unlikely.
Diallo will be able to provide insight as to how John Calipari runs practice and how he wants his guards to perform. Green and Shai Alexander will benefit greatly from Diallo's knowledge. Also, he will be going against Briscoe, Malik Monk, and De'Aaron Fox every day in practice, which will just make Diallo that much better.
The one thing Diallo needs to work on is his shooting. He reminds me a lot of Eric Bledsoe in that regard. He's extremely long and athletic with the ability to cram a dunk on anyway, but his shot needs a lot of work. His extra time at Kentucky would allow the coaches to tweak it in order to make it more consistent. I do think Cal needs to go out and get one more guard that is a good shooter.
Getting Diallo is a big deal and there is no better scenario for him or Kentucky. If he isn't a 'Cat Saturday night, I will be extremely surprised.
Timothy Coleman Sr.
I say Diallo to Kentucky. As I wrote in my previous post, it would be to his advantage to come to Kentucky because he can practice with the best competition. Kentucky has three NBA level guards he can work on his defense and offensive game for next season. It would be to his advantage to take his time, workout with the team and be ready for next season. He can work on his shooting, passing, and get into college level shape without rushing it.
Hamidou Diallo to Kentucky tomorrow night with his announcement. As I stated already the floor is yours Hami.
Kentucky should land Diallo when he makes the call Saturday, and that’s huge news...for next season. He’s not coming to this team and taking minutes away from Mychal Mulder or Dominique Hawkins, guys who have been working for years to just get what little minutes they do.
And Diallo certainly isn’t taking minutes from Fox, Monk or Briscoe, so expecting him to even see the floor this year would be unwise.
But that doesn’t take away from how big this is for next year’s team. without Diallo, the best-case scenario for UK’s starting lineup would be Quade Green, Shai Alexander, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Mo Bamba (I think Knox ends up at Duke either way and Trae Young picks Oklahoma or Kansas).
That’s certainly a lineup with potential, but not having a bigger impact guy at shooting guard would probably cripple that team. Now, you’re not only adding an elite guard there, but you’re also adding one with a semester’s worth of college experience under his belt.
That is, if Diallo sticks around for next year, which I think he will. Then you’ve got some experience in the backcourt and frontcourt to go with the top-ranked recruiting class coming in, and this suddenly becomes a UK team we could easily see back in the Final Four next year.