Five-star basketball prospect Hamidou Diallo is ready to announce his college decision, and Kentucky has emerged as the favorite in his recruitment.
Diallo — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Queens, N.Y. — announced late Wednesday night that he will reveal his college choice Saturday at 5 p.m., at a ceremony in his hometown. He graduated from high school last spring and has been playing this season at Putnam Science Academy (Conn.) as a postgraduate player.
According to the Hartford Courant, Diallo told his high school teammates Wednesday that he is leaving the school. It’s expected he will enroll in college this month and join the team of his choice for the spring semester.
247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday afternoon that he expects UK to be Diallo’s destination.
“That’s what the intel is saying,” he said. “Connecticut was the team trying to make (early enrollment) happen, and then once Kentucky started to make it happen, that made Kentucky the school.”
Diallo took official visits to UConn and Kentucky late last month, and UK Coach John Calipari had an in-home visit with Diallo two days after his trip to Lexington. Diallo, who has been quiet about his recruitment in recent days, had also been considering an official visit to Arizona, but that appears unlikely to happen between now and Saturday.
The first day of second-semester classes at UK is Jan. 11, and the late-registration period for new students ends Jan. 18. Spring classes at UConn begin Jan. 17.
If Diallo enrolls in college this month, he would be able to play the rest of the season, pending clearance by the NCAA. His case is unique in that he is eligible for this year’s NBA Draft because he graduated from high school last spring.
Diallo is the No. 1 shooting guard and No. 9 overall player in the class of 2017, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, but he’s no sure thing to be a high pick in this year’s draft.
If he comes to UK this month, he’d probably have a tough time getting substantial playing time with Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk already excelling in the backcourt, along with defensive stopper Dominique Hawkins and three-point shooter Mychal Mulder as the Wildcats’ veterans off the bench.
Diallo would, however, be an important early addition for the 2017-18 season if UK loses all five of those players to the NBA or graduation, and that appears to be the most likely scenario.
“All along, the word has been that Hamidou was high on Kentucky. That’s been his spot,” Meyer said. “Basically, I think Kentucky is selling, ‘Why not a year and a half to get yourself ready?’ Plus, this year’s draft is going to be so strong, and the intel I’m getting is that Hamidou thinks a year and a half at Kentucky makes the most sense for him.”
Diallo is an athletic offensive player who excels at getting to the basket and has a high upside as a perimeter defender, but he’s a low-percentage three-point shooter. Joining the Wildcats this season would allow him to work on his game against future NBA players in practice while preparing for a major role with the team next season alongside incoming backcourt signees Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
UConn — off to a 5-8 start to this season — would probably offer substantial, immediate playing time.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels said on his “Sidelines” podcast Wednesday that he expects Diallo to enroll in college this season but not play in any games.
“If I were going to take a guess at where I think Hamidou Diallo is going to end up, I would guess Kentucky,” Daniels said on the podcast.
UK basketball commitments for the class of 2017