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Hamidou Diallo waiting for his turn in spotlight, improving jumper

Diallo has been on the bench in games, but he’s been active and improving on the practice floor.

Jeremy Chisenhall/A Sea of Blue

Hamidou Diallo is taking this NCAA Tournament experience in as he sits out, waiting for next season to come. He’s taken his time as a Wildcat reserve to improve his three-pointer (the only hole in his game), according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Diallo’s teammates are raving about his improvement, according to Ben Roberts’ article. This quote from Derek Willis says it all.

“The main concern with Hami coming in — when I started hearing people’s opinion on him — was his shooting ability,” the UK senior said. “And that’s taken off for sure. Him working with Kenny Payne and the rest of our coaching staff, they’ve helped him tremendously on that. He’s definitely shooting a lot better since he’s been here.”

Willis also called Diallo “scary good,” something you love to hear form a senior who’s played alongside some of the best college talent in this decade.

Willis wasn’t the only teammate to praise him though. Malik Monk spoke on how Diallo improves everyone’s game.

“We’re glad we got him here, because he’s been helping us in practice,” said Malik Monk. “He’s going to be a great player. He’s going to be a competitor. That’s what he does. He plays physical with us. He’s not going to give us any breaks. He’s like 6-6. Great length. Great defender. We’re just happy to have him.”

“It’s just a learning process,” Diallo said, according to Roberts. “I don’t really think back on (high school). I’m here now, with a much better jump shot. I’m a much better player. I don’t really think much on the past.”

Diallo was an insanely athletic player in high school and it made him a lot of fun to watch. But for him to say that he doesn’t even think about that, he just focuses on getting better, says a lot to the work ethic of a kid who could still be a high school senior right now. Diallo also spoke on how John Calipari has treated him since he arrived.

“He’s treating me just like a player,” Diallo said. “In practice, I can’t slow the guys down, so I have to pick up on things very quickly. I gotta guard just like I’m playing. I gotta play just like I’m playing. I gotta prepare for a game just like I’m going to be playing.

“I’m just getting used to everything, getting a feel for everything, getting a feel for Coach Cal.”

Diallo also talked about how he’s been the spy for recruits who have committed to Kentucky and recruits who are considering Kentucky.

“I’m just telling them guys, ‘Get ready. It’s a different type of basketball up here.’ It’s not high school no more,” Diallo said, according to Roberts. “As soon as you walk in those doors, just be ready to work. Because it’s all about work.”

Diallo isn’t planning on going through any of the draft process following this season, which means he’ll be at Kentucky next year as one of several stars in the backcourt.