As he participates in his second NBA Combine, Hamidou Diallo sounded convinced it’s better to be a known commodity rather than a man of mystery.
For one thing, Diallo found that playing for Kentucky this past season made a marked improvement in his interviews with NBA teams.
“It’s definitely different for me from the interview standpoint,” he told the media Thursday. “Now I have much more to talk about now that I’ve been (playing) a year at Kentucky. It’s just much more feedback ’cause there’s much more footage on me, and things like that. Last year, I was more of a mystery. This year people know more of what I am and what I bring and stuff like that.”
Of course, Diallo came to UK at the semester break of the 2016-17 school year. He practiced with the team, but did not play. After participating in last year’s NBA Combine, he chose to return and play for Kentucky this past season. He averaged 10 points in what he’s acknowledged was a season that included adversity as well as triumph.
His objective going into a second NBA Combine (which NBA officials say is not unusual for a player)?
“Just showing my abilities,” he said. “Showing off what I got better at, showing off things. People know I’m a great athlete, and people are just getting to know me. So this whole process is just about teams getting to know me and teams getting to know my story.”
The past UK season gave NBA people a better baseline to judge Diallo. The result is more informed questions, which Diallo seemed to appreciate.
“They ask me all type of questions about my game, what I need to work on, what have I been working on, what do they see,” he said. “It’s a whole lot more questions on my game (as opposed to) last year everybody just wanted to know what was my game.”
Going into the Combine last year, UK Coach John Calipari suggested that an air of mystery could make a player like Diallo more intriguing.
Diallo described the decision to return to UK as coming from the gut.
“That’s just what I felt,” he said. “That’s what I felt was the right idea. If I had to do it all over, I would have did (it) the same way.”
When asked why he decided to play for UK this past season, Diallo said, “I just feel like that was the right thing for me to do. There’s no ifs-ands about it. One day I wanted to be in the NBA, the next day I felt like I could stay in school to go back because I wasn’t 100-percent all-in.”
By hiring an agent, Diallo is all-in this year’s NBA Draft process.
“Because I knew what I wanted,” he said of hiring an agent. “I knew what I wanted and knew what I felt. I wanted to go chase my dream, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t wait to see what’s at stake for me.”
For a second straight Combine, Diallo showed his exceptional athleticism. Last year his 44.5-inch vertical leap was the second highest ever recorded at a Combine.
This year, the NBA measured his vertical leap as 40.5 inches, which tied Duke’s Grayson Allen for the sixth highest for a guard at the Combine.
Diallo also had the second best “lane agility” score and tied for the sixth-best time in a sprint over three-quarters of the court (3.1 seconds).
Diallo did not waste words when asked if he was the most athletic player here. “Yes,” he said.
Diallo dismissed the notion of another player being almost as athletic.
“I don’t think so. If there’s a guy out there, I’d love to see him and we can compete,” he said. “I’m a competitor. We’ll see who’s the best. If he’s the best, he’s the best.”