So long as Diallo does not hire an agent, he will have until May 24 — 10 days after the NBA Draft Combine — to make a final decision as to whether he wishes to remain in the draft or return to Kentucky.
“Playing in the NBA has always been the ultimate goal for me,” Diallo said. “It’s part of what makes Kentucky so special is that it prepares you for the next level better than anywhere else. When I decided to enroll in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on school. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process and go through that so I could get a proper evaluation.
“That plan hasn’t changed and that’s why I am declaring for the NBA Draft. I do not plan on hiring an agent at this time. I want to see where my game is and explore my options. I just want to keep all doors open, and I want to thank Coach Cal, the coaching staff and my teammates for allowing me to pursue my dreams. My game has grown so much in the four months I’ve been at UK.
“I don’t know what the next few weeks are going to have in store for me, but I do know I’m going to work as hard as I ever have and keep an open mind. At the end of the day, this is a learning process for me and I appreciate the Big Blue Nation for being both understanding and supportive of my decision. I can’t thank you enough for making me a part of the family from day one.”
Diallo is the sixth underclassman from the 2016-17 Wildcats to announce intentions of turning pro. Guards Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk and forward Isaac Humphries have declared for the draft and either signed with an agent already or plan to. Freshman forward Bam Adebayo declared for the draft but will not hire an agent at this time, opening up the possibility of a return.
“With the information that will be available to Hami and the feedback he will receive by going through this process, I fully support his decision,” head coach John Calipari said via a press release. “It’s in Hami’s best interests to evaluate if now is his time or if he would be better served returning to school. Whatever Hami ultimately chooses to do, you’re talking about an athletic guard with great ball skills, an unbelievable finisher and a terrific defender. He’s gotten so much better in his four months with us and he’s only going to continue to get better.”
This comes as no surprise, as Diallo was expected to at least test the waters all along. He’ll likely get an invite to the NBA Scouting Combine, and he may go through some workouts with teams as well, but it remains to see what kind of feedback he’ll get, not to mention what he would need to hear in order to leave for this NBA this year.
This is going to come down to what they say, as Diallo is probably looking for some kind of assurance he’ll be a first-round pick if he comes out. I doubt he gets it, but after he goes through the combine, it’s possible he gets that assurance. He’s an athletic specimen who should do really good in the combine workouts, but after not seeing the floor in his redshirt college season, it’s going to be very hard for him to get a first-round grade and the guaranteed money that comes with it.