Five-star basketball recruit Hamidou Diallo is on UK’s campus and has enrolled in classes for the spring semester, the school announced Wednesday.
Diallo — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Queens, N.Y. — committed to Kentucky last weekend with the intention of joining the Wildcats this season. His plan is to practice with the team this winter, then return to UK for his college basketball debut next season.
“What excited me was that Hamidou wanted more than anything else to train with our guys and to practice and wasn’t worried about playing games this year,” UK Coach John Calipari said in a statement. “It gives him an unbelievable head start on next year, and as I told him, he’s being put in a position to lead next season because he’s going to have that head start on everyone else.
“As far as what Hamidou can do, he’s a 6-5, 6-6 wing who is an unbelievable defender, athletic, has great ball skills and is a terrific finisher. He’s going to challenge Malik (Monk), De’Aaron (Fox), Isaiah (Briscoe), Mychal (Mulder) and Dominique (Hawkins) every day, which is great for our team, as well as what they’ll challenge him to do. This wasn’t expected, but I’m so happy for him that it’s played out this way where he can come in and focus on getting better and getting ready to chase his dreams.”
Diallo graduated from Putnam Science Academy (Conn.) last spring and had been playing this high school season as a post-graduate player. He was considered the No. 1 shooting guard in the recruiting class of 2017.
“I’m blessed and excited to be here at the University of Kentucky,” Diallo said. “I can’t wait to hit the floor and get rolling and get better each and every day. I chose the University of Kentucky because the plan Coach Cal had for me was just phenomenal and I felt like this was the best place for me to achieve my goals. I felt like this was the best choice for me and my family.”
Q&A with Hamidou Diallo’s coach
Though not the current plan, it remains possible that Diallo could play for the Wildcats this season. He appeared on this week’s episode of “The Sidelines” podcast with Scout.com’s Evan Daniels and did not rule out making his debut for UK in the coming months.
Diallo is eligible to play for the Wildcats immediately, UK confirmed.
“Right now, we’re just playing it by ear,” Diallo told Daniels. “We just don’t want to rush into things. I don’t want to go over there and put on a Kentucky jersey and just play. … First, I have to get used to things. Me getting used to things, me getting used to the college game — that’s pretty much the biggest thing of why I would sit out this year. But right now, we’re just playing it by ear.”
Diallo is also eligible for this year’s NBA Draft, and while he does plan to return to UK next season, he’s apparently keeping open the option of working out with the Wildcats this spring and then jumping to the pros.
“I haven’t completely ruled anything out,” he told Daniels.