As Bam’s door closes, Hamidou Diallo’s opens


Hamidou Diallo smiles while Bam Adebayo poses for a picture during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday, March 12, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

On Tuesday, UK basketball big man Bam Adebayo reinforced his decision to enter the NBA draft, making a return to UK impossible. Adebayo announced his intent to enter the draft not long after the Cats’ loss in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament, however, only made the decision to sign an agent on Tuesday.

Adebayo averaged a double-double for the team’s last 11 games, making him a very sought-after prospect for the draft. His big body and effort level around the rim will likely make him a surefire first-round pick. Currently, he is projected to be drafted near the middle-to-end of the first round of the draft, one of three UK players to be projected in the first round.

As Adebayo’s UK journey comes to an end, five-star recruit Hamidou Diallo is testing the waters of the NBA draft without ever playing a game in the blue and white.

Diallo joined the UK basketball program by enrolling in classes at the university to begin the spring semester of the academic year. Diallo has announced that he’ll enter the draft without hiring an agent, to get an assessment of his draft stock. Given that he doesn’t hire an agent, Diallo will be able to return to UK for the next season if he wants to.

Diallo’s decision to enter without playing a game of college basketball is unusual, but not unheard of. Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Thon Maker, a big man that had graduated from high school a year before entering the draft without attending college. Maker saw success with the Bucks as a rookie, so it publicized the possibility of entering the draft without getting college playing time.

Whether Diallo decides to simply view his draft stock or commit to the draft, his decision will affect the complexion of next year’s UK basketball team. With powerhouses like Adebayo, Malik Monk, and De’Aaron Fox leaving for the NBA, there would be a superstar spot on the team for Diallo. His four-month experience with the Cats would be beneficial for the eternally young team, likely being a focal point.

Whatever his decision, fans will see an entirely different UK team next year, a statement that has become commonplace in the Calipari era of UK basketball.