It was just last week that UK fans were frantically refreshing their browsers to see what Hamidou Diallo would do.
Diallo was mulling over his NBA Draft decision, which didn’t come until the Wednesday night deadline to pull out of the draft. Thankfully, Diallo made the call to return to UK, but that only begins to tell the story of that wild day.
At the SEC Spring Meeting in Florida, John Calipari gave a behind-the-scenes breakdown of what transpired on that day.
“People wanted to say, ‘Well, why did he wait until the last minute?’” Calipari told Cats Pause. “Because he worked out with a team that day, didn’t get done with it until 7 or 8. He called me and I said, ‘Listen, spend some time. Call me around 10. You have time.’”
Everyone assumed Diallo would have made his decision well before the 11:59 pm EST deadline to do so, but this was a life-altering decision that he was going to take every second he could to decide on.
“He called me back at a quarter til (the deadline) to say, ‘I’m staying,’” said Calipari.
Now, Diallo is set to suit up for the Cats next season, and Calipari has big expectations for him.
“I think he needs to play the guard position the way we play it, which is as much a point guard as anything,” said Calipari. “You might be playing two or three guards, but you all are playing like you’re a point guard. That’s your mentality. In his case, him being that kind of player and continuing to improve his shooting.
“And then, he just hasn’t played enough games. Game time experience is going to be important to him.”
Watch a few minutes of Diallo highlights, and you’ll see UK has one of the most explosive athletes in college hoops next season. Now, it’s just a matter of Diallo and Calipari finding the best way to harness it on the court.
“His athleticism and his explosion and what I call a quick twitch is off the chain,” Calipari said. “So we’ve got to get him to play with a motor the entire time he’s on the floor, to be in attack mode the entire time he’s on the floor, to be the best defender on the floor with whatever position he’s guarding. He’s a creative player, he’s not selfish.
“That’s where we’ve got to take this, to where when you watch him you say, ‘Are you watching this kid? Oh my gosh!’”
Expect a lot of ‘oh my gosh’ moments from Diallo next season.