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UK Basketball: Hamidou Diallo declares for 2018 NBA Draft

Diallo says goodbye to Big Blue Nation with his draft declaration video.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Hamidou Diallo is now officially off to the NBA Draft.

On Monday, Diallo announced on Twitter that he’s declaring for the draft. UK says he plans to hire an agent.

“Once a Cat, always a Cat. Go Big Blue,” Diallo said at the end.

A report came out last Friday that Diallo was leaving for the 2018 NBA Draft, but Diallo’s mentor shot that report down. However, the assumption all along had been that Diallo was leaving for the NBA, and it was only a matter of time before he made it official.

As a redshirt freshman this past season, Diallo averaged 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. He shot 43 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.

Diallo did get a late boost to his stock before the season ended when he had his best game of the year against the Buffalo Bulls in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 22 points, bringing in eight rebounds and blocking two shots.

Still, Diallo is widely projected as a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Most projections have him in the 34-40 range, so for now, he’s being safely projected in, which is probably part of why he opted to turn pro.

It’s hard to pass on your NBA dreams, which Diallo effectively did last year when he returned to UK after enrolling mid-season in 2016-17. He was widely expected to be a first-round pick in the 2017 draft, but he opted to bypass the draft and spend a season in Lexington.

It didn’t quite work out how he’d hoped for, but in the end, he’s still getting to pursue his NBA dreams.

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