Many thought that John Calipari would burn freshman Hamidou Diallo’s redshirt and insert him into a game after he enrolled for the spring semester.
However, they have stuck to their plan and Diallo has spent that time working on his skill set, putting on weight, and preparing to lead another star-studded group of freshmen coming to Lexington next fall, according to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker.
Diallo will likely be a leader on next year’s Wildcats squad, which stands to lose as many as seven players from this year’s version. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo are near-locks to leave early for the NBA Draft, and many expect sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe to test the NBA waters as well. Add seniors Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, and Mychal Mulder to that list, and Kentucky’s backcourt is depleted.
Diallo will be one of the backcourt leaders for Kentucky next season, along with point guard Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Forwards P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt and center Nick Richards will join the backcourt trio.
“I think I got a big jump ahead of my class. It puts me in a position to become the leader, because a bunch of guys are not going to be here next year,” Diallo told Tucker. “So I just gotta lead those guys that are coming in and show them the (ropes). Expectations are high here, so I’ve really got to buckle down as soon as we start running.”
Diallo very well could’ve been a contributor on this year’s team, but instead opted to spend time working on his game and preparing for next year. While it hasn’t been easy, things are going as planned for Diallo.
“It’s been tough for me seeing these guys going out there and competing every night and me just sitting on the bench,” Diallo told SEC Country on Sunday. “As a competitor, it’s been tough. But it’s all a part of a plan that I set, so it’s been a great experience.”
The Kentucky coaching staff has to be encouraged seeing the patience and maturity from Diallo during this season.