While introducing this year’s Kentucky roster at a camp this weekend, assistant coach John Robic had a hard time identifying Hamidou Diallo’s classification. He ended up going with “second-semester freshman,” but his confusion is a solid representation for how Kentucky fans feel about Diallo’s abilities.
What kind of player is he, exactly?
After a recent workout for the Philadelphia 76ers, Malik Monk offered his assessment.
"I think he'll take a humongous step," Monk told Adam Zagoria. "He's a leader, just wants to win so I think they'll be pretty good."
To be perfectly honest, Twitter footage from today’s U19 Team USA tryouts is probably the most that many of us have seen Diallo play. Thankfully, he was pretty impressive.
"I think he's ready for [the NBA] but I think he wanted the experience of Kentucky," Monk said. “You gotta have that experience."
His athleticism set the NBA Combine on fire, although his team workouts were not as impressive. Many believe that he will be a defensive juggernaut and could be a star player if he can develop his jump shot.
"I can't wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know," Kentucky Coach John Calipari said after Diallo announced his intent to return to Kentucky. "He's a special player and a special person."
Although he did not see any game action last year, Diallo was around for the entire second half of the season last year, including the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. That experience could prove to be invaluable with such a young team, as the Wildcats will likely start at least 4 freshmen and only have 2-3 upperclassmen in the overall rotation.
As crazy as it sounds, this Kentucky team needs second-semester freshman Hamidou Diallo to be a veteran leader. Let’s hope Monk was correct about that humongous step he will be taking.