The NBA stock of Hamidou Diallo appears to be soaring as the NBA Draft Combine arrives.
However, not all NBA executives seem to think Diallo should come out. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman spoke with multiple NBA execs in hopes of figuring out which prospects should stay in the draft or return to school.
Despite the recent first-round hype for Diallo, one exec thinks he should return to UK:
Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky Wildcats
He enrolled at the semester break last year but didn't play for the Wildcats. Diallo is a big-time athlete, but the knock on him is his feel for the game and ability to make shots from the perimeter. "He's a freak athlete but has so much to learn," one NBA executive said. Another wondered whether it might not be advantageous to leave now, for fear of being exposed at the college level.
Range: Early second round
NBA says: Back to school
This is the first time an NBA exec has gone on record saying Diallo should go back to school. Everyone else has indicated he’s a possible first-round pick, but this exec thinks he’s more of a second-round guy who needs a full season of college hoops under his belt.
That exec isn’t the only one that’s sour on Diallo. During a media conference call this week, Goodman offered a not-so-flattering review of Diallo, which may explain why he’s not taking part in 5-on-5 competition at the combine this week.
To me, you would think Kentucky would kind of want him to play in a sense, if they want him back, because the knock on him from NBA guys that saw him in practice, they said he doesn't have great feel. Great athlete, doesn't have great feel yet.
So it's going to be interesting to see whether it's -- what he does, does he go there, blow people away with the testing, and then does he go do some workouts and blow people away, maybe he makes some shots in workouts from people that haven't seen him a ton and they take a shot at him. But I think his range, again, is probably somewhere, from talking to NBA guys, somewhere from 22 to 45. It's probably as wide as just about anybody.
Elsewhere, Fletcher Page of the Courier-Journal spoke with Diallo’s prep school coach, Tom Espinosa, who revealed Diallo was planning to stay in school for the 2017-18 season when he originally came to UK, but those plans may have changed.
"His plan was to go and play at Kentucky next year," Espinosa said. "But you never know what happens. I'd be shocked if there's a better athlete in the draft than Hamidou. It's going to be a tough decision for him and his family, but his plan was always to play next year for Kentucky."
I do think Diallo was genuinely planning on playing at UK next season and not leaving for the draft, but once he learned he could be a first-round pick, that threw a wrench into his plans. It’s hard for anyone to pass on first-round money and a guaranteed contract, which is what Diallo may have to do if he returns to school.
I wouldn’t count on him doing that. If Diallo feels he’ll be a first-round pick, expect him to remain in the draft. But if he can’t get that assurance, I think he’ll return to UK.