LEXINGTON, Ky. — SEC Country polled the Kentucky basketball team on a series of topics this summer, but no vote was as lopsided as this one:
Who is the 2017-18 Wildcats’ best dunker?
“Oh, Hamidou Diallo,” said Hamidou Diallo, who also believes he is the team’s best shooter, defender and leader. But he got a lot of agreement from teammates on the dunking thing.
The 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman shooting guard, who posted a 44½-inch vertical at the NBA combine this spring before returning to school, received 10½ votes (Tai Wynyard split his vote) to 7-footer Nick Richards’ 1½ and P.J. Washington’s 1.
“I get the most dunks,” Richards said in casting a quantity over quality ballot for himself. The coach’s son, Brad Calipari, went for sheer force in picking Washington. Everyone else was on the Diallo bandwagon.
“I’ve seen him catch some crazy putbacks,” freshman Jarred Vanderbilt said.
“He’s one of the best dunkers in the country,” added freshman Kevin Knox. “He’s caught a couple bodies here [dunked on teammates]. It’s crazy to see how powerful he dunks and how high he gets.”
“His head is always at the rim — at all times,” point guard Quade Green said.
“Guys stay away from Hami when he dunks,” for fear of ending up on a poster, rookie combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said.
But sometimes there is just no avoiding Diallo, the former 5-star recruit and projected 2018 lottery pick, when he lifts off.
“Not going to say any names,” he said, “but a lot of people have been getting dunked on this summer.”
What makes Diallo’s overwhelming selection as Top Dunker so impressive is that Kentucky has plenty of high-flying freaks — Knox and Washington among them. Former star Rex Chapman recently watched practice and said you simply can’t throw a lob too high for Richards.
“We’re so long and athletic this year,” sophomore power forward Tai Wynyard said, “that everyone’s dunking on everyone.”