We all know Hamidou Diallo’s journey during his time at UK, but few know just how much Hami has worked to get to where he is now. His journey is truly inspiring and I couldn’t be happier for the kid from Queens.
Before we dive into Hami’s background, we need to talk about how things played out when he was at Kentucky. After he decided to join the 2016 Kentucky roster, Hami chose to test the draft waters, even though he never saw a minute of playing time.
He told himself that if he didn’t get a top 20 guarantee, he’d come back to UK. While he did get a lot of first round buzz, the highest he was ever projected was in the upper 20’s. So, Hami was true to his word and decided to return to Kentucky.
To start the season, Hami was on fire. He averaged 15 ppg over the first 12 games. Everything was looking up for the shooting guard out of Queens. Unfortunately, things took a big down-spin, especially when tournament play started. Hami’s averages all declined across the board, along with his draft stock plummeting out of the first round.
Many people would say that Diallo should’ve just stayed in the draft last season, but according to Hami himself, coming back to Kentucky was the right move.
“No regrets, none,” Diallo told the Sporting News. “I had one foot in the NBA, one foot in college. I was not 100 percent sure I wanted to go into the NBA. I feel like I made the best decision to go back to school, and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same exact way. I feel like I made the right decision,“ Hami said. “I had the best time at Kentucky, I had the best time with one of the best coaches in the game and the best assistant coaches as well. They all wanted to see me succeed,.”
Diallo learned much more than just how to be a great basketball player during his time at Kentucky. He learned about life, and what the deeper meaning is behind the game that will propel him to understand the NBA much better.
“The best thing I learned at Kentucky this year was, how to fight myself, how to conquer myself,” Diallo said. “When I say conquer myself, I mean when things aren’t going my way, what type of player am I? What type of teammate am I? Not just basketball — you wake up in the morning, you are late, you are late for class, you miss the bus. It’s raining. You’re not having a good day, you miss breakfast. How are you going to perform in practice that day?”
These are the intangible mental skills that are required for a professional in the NBA, and it’s exactly why College is so important for many young people.
Diallo grew up in Queens, New York. And most should know, that’s a tough place to grow up. Not only are there temptations to get involved in gang life and drugs, but walking out of your home and not feeling safe become the norm for most people that are raised there.
Just getting past that is inspiring. It’s a hard environment to get out of, but Hami did it and that should give all of us hope.
While growing up in this situation is tough, Diallo’s story goes even deeper than this. His parents, Marima and Abdoulaye, came to the U.S. from Guinea decades ago, leaving behind the poverty and unrest of West Africa. Marima and Abdoulaye took the ultimate risk and came to America for a better life for them, but more specifically, their children.
Seeing a kid fulfill not only his dreams, but the dreams his parents had for him of a better life is tremendous. Sometimes situations in life are hard, but to watch someone perceiver through it all is special.
All of the BBN will be in full support of everything he does going forward, and all of us should be humbled by not only his story, but his parents story as well.