When New York basketball blue-chipper Hamidou Diallo signed with the Kentucky Wildcats about four months ago, the New York basketball world was buzzing with the possibilities and the potential excitement of New York’s proclaimed “King” of hoops coming to do a one-and-done dynamo season with John Calipari’s NBA C-League squad.
It’s always cool to see a sure-fire NBA first-rounder from Lefrak City, the home of Kenny Anderson and Lost Battalion hoops extravaganzas make it in this new age hoops recruiting roller coaster. Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in January but didn't play in a game. He would be a redshirt freshman for the 2017-18 season.
Now he’s entering the NBA Draft without an agent and is projected to be a late first-round pick by draft experts. The chances of him returning to Kentucky are about the same as Michelle Obama running for President in 2020. Unless his struggles in the early part of his high school season and in front of a large group of NBA personnel at the National Prep Showcase in November affected his stock, Diallo will be on somebody's NBA or D-League roster next season.
Actually, Diallo showed great resilience when he rebounded from that shaky performance with a brilliant National High School Hoops Festival.
"Playing in the NBA has always been the ultimate goal for me," Diallo said in a release. "It's part of what makes Kentucky so special is that it prepares you for the next level better than anywhere else. When I decided to enroll in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on school. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process and go through that so I could get a proper evaluation.
"That plan hasn't changed, and that's why I am declaring for the NBA draft. I do not plan on hiring an agent at this time. I want to see where my game is and explore my options. I just want to keep all doors open, and I want to thank Coach Cal [John Calipari], the coaching staff and my teammates for allowing me to pursue my dreams."
Diallo was a five-star recruit in the ESPN 100 for 2017 and when he signed with Kentucky over Connecticut in January, speculation grew that Diallo could opt to leave for the NBA without ever playing a college game, because he was already one year removed from his high school graduation at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.
Diallo is the sixth Kentucky player to enter the NBA draft this spring, following guards De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe and forwards Bam Adebayo and Isaac Humphries.