Diallo declares for the NBA Draft


Kentucky freshman guard Hamidou Diallo celebrates after a three-pointer during the game against Kansas State in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky was defeated 61-58. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Kernel Sports Staff

After skipping out on the NBA Draft last season, Hamidou Diallo has decided to submit his name into this year’s NBA Draft and hire an agent.

By hiring an agent, Diallo’s career at UK will come to an end after three semesters. Diallo redshirted the second half of the 2016-2017 season, and spent the entire past season as one of UK’s starters and top guards.

“I would like to start off by thanking my family for always supporting and believing in me,” Diallo said in a press release. “Thank you to Coach Cal, the assistants and the staff for everything. You guys have pushed me to my limits and I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me. You’ve been honest with me from the start and always had my back. I can’t thank you enough. To my teammates, you guys are my brothers. You picked me up this season and helped me build my confidence when I needed it.

In his role as UK’s starting shooting guard, Diallo averaged 10 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Diallo led the Cats in scoring in four separate games, and had three 20-point performances in the last season.

One of those 20-point performances was a 22-point and eight-rebound effort against Buffalo in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That was one of Diallo’s better performances of the season after spending a majority of conference-play struggling to find his rhythm.

“Hami got better in all areas of his game. True growth happens when you get knocked down to the point of questioning yourself. We already knew how talented of a player Hami was physically and athletically, but we all learned about Hami’s toughness, his character and his desire to win,” Calipari said in the press release. “I am so proud of his growth from beginning to end. He’s prepared to succeed and will succeed. He’s the best athlete in the draft who’s continued to improve his shooting. He’s only touched his true talent. I wish I had the opportunity to coach him another year but I understand and support his decision.”

Diallo has been through the NBA Draft process before, as he participated in the NBA Combine last year before pulling his name out of the draft pool minutes before the deadline.

At the 2017 NBA Combine, Diallo posted top-four marks in four of the five strength and agility drills, including the top mark in the max vertical leap. Diallo jumped 44.5 inches, which was six inches higher than lottery pick and former Wildcat Bam Adebayo.

“A year ago I tested the waters to get some feedback and then make the best possible decision for my career. I chose to come back and I’m so happy I did,” Diallo said in the press release. “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Nothing made me prouder than to put that Kentucky name across my chest.”

This year’s NBA Combine will take place from May 16-20. Diallo will likely use the combine to increase his draft stock, which projects to be around the late first round/second round.