LEXINGTON, Ky. – Hamidou Diallo is in the building. The 5-star Class of 2017 shooting guard enrolled Wednesday and joined Kentucky basketball in practice for the first time Friday. Coach John Calipari spoke to reporters before that workout, and here’s what you need to know from his comments on Diallo:
- “I get to split up the group a little bit so we get a little six-(man) rotation on both sides, which is gonna be good,” Calipari said. “You know, it’s his first time. He’s probably nervous and anxious. We gave him a couple things that we’re doing so when we go up and down he can play those things and we can go against him, but what I would imagine is, he’ll look a little lost.”
- What Kentucky fans really want to know: If Diallo starts looking good in practice and the Cats find themselves in the NCAA Tournament and multiple guards in foul trouble, will there be temptation to play him? “No,” Calipari said. “I wouldn’t do it for me or the program. The only way that would happen is if it was in his best interests. But it wouldn’t be about – the situation wouldn’t matter. Up, down, sideways. Wouldn’t matter. It would be about him. What I know is in his mind and what I see, he needs to get squared away. Let’s get your base set and then come back and do your thing. That would be my recommendation if he asks me.”
- To that point, Calipari said Diallo will travel with the team on road trips this season, but he will not dress out in uniform, eliminating any temptation or possibility of him playing unless that changes. The goal is to have an experienced freshman ready to roll for the 2017-18 season.
Our newest additon, Hamidou Diallo, getting his first on-court work in. That jumper looks ? pic.twitter.com/ICvVItZZc0
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 13, 2017
- But isn’t hopping into this team midseason a little like trying to jump aboard a train moving at full speed? “No, this is great for him,” Calipari said. “It’s great. I mean, he’s going to get to workout. All the stuff that he needs, personally. You really can focus on what he needs. And then kinda shove him into some of this stuff and let him have a feel for it and go from there.”
- How will Diallo help improve Kentucky’s already loaded backcourt of De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe by practicing against them? “He can make them come every day and have to bring it,” Calipari said. “Because he’s a long, athletic player.”