Kentucky Basketball: How Next Year’s Rotation Looks with Hamidou Diallo Returning



Freshman guard Hamidou Diallo only practiced for the Kentucky basketball team last year; he never saw action in any games. Usually, when a player of no experience returns to a college basketball team, it’s not huge news.

It is for Kentucky though because they have so little experience returning from this past season’s Elite 8 team. The Wildcats are looking to replace 92.6 percent of their scoring and 76.6 percent of their rebounding from last year’s team.

(editor’s note: I talked Kentucky basketball, and the return of Diallo on ESPN Hawaii, have a listen at this link)

Utilizing NCAA rules that allow players to “test the waters,” Hamidou Diallo entered the NBA Draft without hiring an agent to protect his NCAA eligibility with the option of returning to school. With only mere minutes to spare before the deadline transpired, Diallo informed Kentucky basketball of his intention to come back to school yesterday.

He rivaled Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan (who decided to stay in the draft and leave school) as the last player to decide, or at least make the decision public.

With the 11th hour decision Diallo now joins Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, Brad Calipari, Jonny David and Dillon Pulliam (those last three are all walk-ons by the way) as 2017-18 returnees.


In other words, it’s a very green core returning to Lexington this upcoming season. Of course, Kentucky basketball is about “succeed and proceed,” “reinforcements, not substitutes” and “reload not rebuild.”

The have yet another top-ranked, blockbuster class coming in next year. It’s more than just the top ranked class nationally (by 24/7 sports), it’s a much larger group than usual.

If you include Diallo, it’s six 5-star players and two 4-stars. Leading the way you have five McDonald’s All-Americans in Jarred VanderbiltQuade GreenNick RichardsP.J. Washington and Kevin Knox.

Kentucky Basketball 2017-18 VERY EARLY Potential Depth Chart (VERY ROUGH Draft)

PG Quade Green

Wing/SG Hamidou Diallo/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander/Jamarl Baker

Wing/SF Kevin Knox/Jarred Vanderbilt/Wenyen Gabriel/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

PF P.J. Washington/Sacha Killeya-Jones/Wenyen Gabriel

C Nick Richards/Tai Wynard

Diallo is ranked by Rivals and Scout as the #10 recruit nationally, while ESPN has him #11, 24/7 Sports #9. In his final season in high school, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record and an appearance in the state semifinals. He averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior season before graduating in the fall.

Diallo was also a key member of the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in July in Chile, where he averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for Team USA.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” reads a statement attributed to head Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.

kentucky wildcats

“He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship. I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. Banks, a former writer for the Washington TimesNBC and Chicago, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN

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