Section » Basketball

Hamidou Diallo Plans to Return to Kentucky for 2017-18 Season

Hamidou Diallo Plans to Return to Kentucky for 2017-18 Season

From UK Athletics
Freshman guard tested NBA Draft waters but did not hire an agent to protect his eligibility

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Hamidou Diallo is coming back to Kentucky.

Diallo, a freshman guard, plans to return to UK for the 2017-18 season after going through the process of declaring for the NBA Draft. Utilizing NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters,” Diallo entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent to protect his NCAA eligibility with the option of returning to school.

hamidou Diallo 1Players had until 10 days after the conclusion of the NBA Draft Combine to make a final decision based on a rule between the NCAA and NBA so long as the player didn’t hire an agent. That deadline was Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

With only minutes to spare, Diallo informed UK of his intention to come back to school. He will join Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, Brad Calipari, Jonny David and Dillon Pulliam as 2017-18 returners.

“First of all, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for your support,” Diallo said. “I’ve only been a Wildcat for five months, but you have already made me one of your own. I know not everyone understood my original decision — but everyone has been supportive. Thank you for that.

“The one thing I’ve learned through this whole process is how grateful I am that I came to the University of Kentucky. Coach Cal and the staff have had my back throughout this entire journey. They were honest with me from the start, had my best interests at heart and walked me through every step. I couldn’t have asked for a better support system.

“I also want to thank the university for understanding how important this decision was to me. This is something I had to do for me and my family, and the school has been supportive of us the whole way. Just so everyone knows, I always planned to pay the school back for my spring tuition for allowing me to enroll last semester because I never thought I would be in this position. If I knew I was leaving after the semester, I would have played to help the team.

“Like I said when I submitted my name for the draft, playing in the NBA has always been my ultimate goal. When I enrolled in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on academics. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process so I could get a proper evaluation.

“That plan still hasn’t changed. I hope to play in the NBA one day — just not this season. Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it’s in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title. I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can’t wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

From UK Athletics

From UK Athletics

Diallo will return in a unique situation as one of the team’s leaders. Although he didn’t play in 2016-17, he became an important player in practice after reclassifying and enrolling at Kentucky in January. In recent interviews at the NBA Draft Combine, former teammates De’Aaron Fox and Isaiah Briscoe raved about Diallo’s defensive presence in practice as the Wildcats went on to win both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles before advancing to the Elite Eight.

With five underclassmen entering their names in the NBA Draft (Fox, Briscoe, Bam Adebayo, Malik Monk and Isaac Humphries) and three graduating seniors (Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder and Derek Willis), Kentucky will be tasked with replacing 92.6 percent of its scoring and 76.6 percent of its rebounding from the 2016-17 team.

Reinforcements will be on the way in the form of the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jemarl Baker, Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington), but Diallo’s return will add some experience to what will be one of John Calipari’s youngest teams yet.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” head coach John Calipari said. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship. I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know. He’s a special player and a special person.”

Diallo will be a leading returner alongside Gabriel, Killeya-Jones and Wynyard. Gabriel is UK’s leading statistical returner from last season after averaging 4.6 points and 4.8 boards as a freshman, including seven games in double figures. He boasted a 23-point performance against LSU and also hauled in 16 rebounds against Auburn which were the most for any UK player at the time since 2014. Killeya-Jones had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting against UT Martin and 10 blocks over his first nine career games. Wynyard, the youngest player to ever suit up for the New Zealand National Team, appeared in 15 games a season ago for the Cats and adds a bruising inside presence with experience in the program.

Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in January after graduating from Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut in May. A top-10 prospect in the 2017 class before reclassifying, The 6-foot-5 guard from Queens, New York, practiced with the team and was eligible to play in games, but he opted not to play this season in order to adapt to college competition, develop his game and focus on his academics.

A high-flying, high-scoring guard who excels at getting to the basket, Diallo is considered a long, athletic wing with a potential to be a lockdown defender. Before reclassifying last season, he was rated as high as No. 9 (247 Sports) and no lower than No. 11 (ESPN) among the major recruiting services. Both 247Sports and Scout considered him the No. 1 shooting guard in the 2017 class.

In his final full season in high school, in 2015-16, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior season before graduating in the fall. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior.

Diallo was also a key member of the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in July in Chile, where he averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for Team USA.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and on the web at UKathletics.com.

Social Media reaction from Kentucky players and coaches

Oh and while we were waiting UK Assistant Coach Joel Jutus might have had the best tweet of the night.

No CommentsPermalink

Wildcats Will face Virginia Tech and West Virginia next season

From UK Athletics  UK will make its third all-time trip next season to Morgantown, West Virginia BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Always one of the main events of the college basketball season, the Kentucky men’s basketball team’s draw in the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge will once again be an enticing one as the Wildcats will travel to […]

No CommentsRead this post »

May 23rd podcast with Tom Leach and Sean Hjelle

On this edition of the Big Blue Insider we talk to Tom Leach on UK Basketball and Football. The SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle calls in from Hoover Alabama where UK Baseball prepares for the SEC Tournament. Also possible Diallo news and a fake recruit. Listen live to Big Blue Insider weeknights at […]

No CommentsRead this post »

May 22nd podcast with Rachel Lawson and Julian Tackett

On this edition of the Big Blue Insider Mark Buerger guest hosts. We are joined by UK Softball coach Rachel Lawson, to talk about advancing to the Super Regional, and Julian Tackett of the KHSAA to discuss the state track meet that was canceled. Plus UK basketball is getting new lorcker rooms. Listen live to […]

No CommentsRead this post »

May 19th podcast rain delay

On this edition of the Big Blue Insider we talk grand slam give a little update on Hamidou Diallo and talk UK Baseball. Listen live to Big Blue Insider weeknights at 6pm on 630 WLAP or wlap.com Subscribe on iTunes Download New Download

No CommentsRead this post »

May 18th podcast no Bamaba

On this edition of the Big Blue Insider Kentucky loses out on Mo Bamba, but UK officially announcing spring signing class with comments from Coach Calipari. Also UK Baseball talk as the go to Gainesville for a big series Listen live to Big Blue Insider weeknights at 6pm on 630 WLAP or wlap.com Subscribe on […]

No CommentsRead this post »

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Adds Three in Spring Signing Period

From UK Athletics Baker, Knox and Vanderbilt added to nation’s No. 1 class for 2017 Video: Coach Calipari breaks down the spring signees LEXINGTON, Ky. – Already boasting the No. 1 rated recruiting class following the fall signing period, the Kentucky men’s basketball team added to its arsenal with three additional signees in the spring […]

No CommentsRead this post »

Anthony Davis, John Wall Selected to All-NBA Teams

From UK Athletics Davis makes All-NBA First Team for second time in career; Wall tabbed All-NBA for first time   LEXINGTON, Ky. – Anthony Davis is back at the top. John Wall is now considered among the elite. So say the 100 media members who voted for the annual All-NBA Teams, which the league announced […]

No CommentsRead this post »

May 17th podcast with Glen Pakulak, Aaron Torres and Gary Graves

On this edition of the Big Blue Insider we talk to @Aaron_Torres on the NBA draft, former UK punter Glenn Pakulak @glennpakulak on his new project and AP writer Gary Graves @GaryBGraves on college athletics in Kentucky and horses. Plus @curtisburch ‘s conspiracy theories. Listen live to Big Blue Insider weeknights at 6pm on 630 WLAP or wlap.com Subscribe on iTunes […]

No CommentsRead this post »

May 15th podcast with Fletcher Page and Chris Doering

On this edition of the Big Blue Insider we talk to Fletcher Page of the Courier Journal on the NBA Draft Combine, Chris Doering of the SEC Network on football. Plus a new football commit you might have heard of before. Listen live to Big Blue Insider weeknights at 6pm on 630 WLAP or wlap.com […]

No CommentsRead this post »