LEXINGTON, Ky. — Turns out, despite a CBS Sports report to the contrary on Friday, Kentucky freshman Hamidou Diallo has not made his NBA draft decision yet. Or at least he’s not ready to go public with it.
CBS college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein, citing multiple anonymous sources, tweeted that Diallo was expected to sign with an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft — with an official announcement “expected soon.” But Diallo’s longtime mentor, Rob Diaz, told SEC Country that report is premature.
“Nothing as of now has been decided,” he said. “The family, him and I will meet next week to talk all of that over and come up with a decision. So anything being put out right now is just rumor and speculation.”
Diaz essentially discovered Diallo in middle school, long before he grew into a 5-star recruit and future pro, and has helped shepherd him through several major decisions: moving to a higher-profile AAU team and more competitive high school program, enrolling at UK a semester early and sitting out the second half of last season, testing the NBA draft waters last spring and ultimately coming back to Lexington as a redshirt freshman.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard who posted a 44 ½-inch vertical leap at the 2017 NBA Combine — second-highest ever recorded at that event — started all 37 games for Kentucky in an up-and-down season. He averaged 10 points and 3.6 rebounds and shot 33.8 percent from 3-point range, which represented improvement in the weakest area of his game.
After scoring 18-plus points in 7 of 11 games to open his Wildcats career, Diallo struggled in conference play, averaging just 7 points and 22.9 minutes. But coach John Calipari stuck with him, even as some fans pleaded for Diallo to be pulled from the starting lineup, and that faith was rewarded in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Diallo hit 9 of 12 shots, had 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal in what will be the penultimate game of his college career if he ends up in the 2018 draft. He is currently ranked the 34th-best player among draft-eligible prospects by ESPN.
The NBA has always been his dream and now “Hami can taste it,” his high school coach, Tom Espinosa, told SEC Country last week.
“Hami could’ve packed it in and not been mentally tough and fought through it, but he did the best he could and continue to work hard,” Espinosa said. “[Calipari] could’ve easily moved on, too, and he didn’t. I was happy he stuck with Hami and continued to believe in him, because that’s what he needed.”
And now we all go back to waiting for Diallo to make his decision official.