LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari had some semi-good news on injured point guard De’Aaron Fox after Saturday’s win over South Carolina. Fox rolled his right ankle and left the game for good with 8:50 to go in the first half, then returned to the sideline with the help of crutches (and wearing a protective boot) in the second half.
“I don’t know exactly. It’s not swelled. I think it might’ve been a stinger, I don’t know,” Calipari said. “Something hit his ankle, so he’s in a boot. But they said there’s no swelling, so I don’t know.”
Fox was off to a great start against the Gamecocks — 6 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound and no turnovers in 8 minutes — having reeled off three consecutive driving layups just before the injury. The star freshman is averaging 16.2 points, 6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game.
His injury begs an obvious question: Is there a scenario in which Kentucky might play 5-star freshman guard Hamidou Diallo this season? Diallo, a top-10 recruit in the Class of 2017, enrolled earlier this month and began practicing with the team. He’s eligible to play now, but the plan is not to begin competition until next season.
On a day like Saturday, when Fox got hurt, senior guard Mychal Mulder was out with an illness and sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe was scoreless with 7 turnovers, it sure would seem tempting to try Diallo.
“But no, that’s not even in the cards,” Calipari said. “He’s working hard. He’s been here three, four days and we have a kid on campus who knows him and said, ‘Man, look at him.’ I mean, he’s getting better. He came here for a reason: He wants to be his best version. ‘How good can I get? How good can I be?’ What I want him to do is I want him to go after Malik and Isaiah. He’s a really good on-ball defender — like, really good. ‘Go after these guys, make them better. If they’re not practicing hard, make them look bad.’ But no, he’s not in the mix.”
And oh, by the way, that “kid on campus” is 5-star center Mohamed Bamba, the top uncommitted prospect in the country, ranked the No. 2 overall player in the class. He is on an official visit to Kentucky this weekend and happens to be close with Diallo, who is actively recruiting him to join what is already the nation’s top class in 2017.