CHICAGO — Four of Kentucky basketball’s 2017 commitments will play in the McDonald’s All American game on Wednesday night, while one of their fellow classmates — Hamidou Diallo — has been on Kentucky’s campus since January.
Diallo enrolled a semester early, and while eligible to play for John Calipari’s Wildcats, Diallo was firm in his plans to sit out and watch from the sidelines as a redshirt. Diallo never helped in a game, but his early arrival might be helping on the recruiting trail.
Diallo knows Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox — a pair of 5-star prospects that Kentucky is still trying to sway. Bamba and Knox can listen to Calipari’s pitch, but Diallo can give them a player’s perspective look at what it’s like to play for the Cats.
“I’ve talked to Hamidou a couple times,” Knox said. “He really wants me to come in next year. He’s getting better, I’m getting better and he really wants me to play along with him.”
Bamba and Knox are consensus top-10 prospects, along with Diallo, in the 2017 class. Bamba and Diallo played on the same AAU team in 8th grade.
“I’ve just always been kind of tight with him,” Bamba said of Diallo. “His message to me is, ‘If you’re not trying to work, don’t come.'”
That’s apparently been Diallo’s message to any potential teammate. Five-star point guard Quade Green said Diallo is “like my best friend.” The two were on the phone together just before Tuesday’s media day at the McDonald’s All-American game.
“He just told me, ‘You better come in and work and stay focused.’ That’s all they do in the gym,” Green said. “Come work out everyday — like five times a day, late night, sometimes you miss out on sleep just cause you’re working out. Then you go to class the next day. After class you go to the gym. Everything’s a workout fest there.
Diallo is making sure his future teammates are ready.