According to Adam Zagoria, Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo is drawing interest from the Indiana Pacers.
The Mavs, Pacers and @BrooklynNets have recently checked in with AAU coaches of UK G @Diallo1Hamidou. Nets have multiple picks.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 8, 2017
You know, Hamidou Diallo? The 6’ 5” shooting guard from the University of Kentucky? Okay, chances are you don’t know.
Diallo, an 18-year-old kid from Queens, NY, has yet to play in his first collegiate game.
So how is he draft eligible?
Diallo attended the Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut where he completed half of a postgraduate year and enrolled at Kentucky to play for coach John Calipari in the spring.
Except, he didn’t. Although Diallo was eligible to play for the Wildcats, he only practiced with the team.
“It was mostly my choice. Just coming into a season with a team that has some chemistry flowing, a team that’s been together a whole summer and a semester, just coming in and trying to input myself right away wouldn’t be right for me and wouldn’t be right for those guys.”
How is a kid who has yet to play at the collegiate level gaining first-round interest in the NBA?
Hamidou Diallo is a freak athlete.
Hamidou Diallo (@Diallo1Hamidou) posted a 44.5 max vertical at the NBA Draft Combine. 2nd best all-time, highest this year so far. pic.twitter.com/c7Cr7YdYEO— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 11, 2017
Did I mention Diallo is just 18-years-old?
Aside from his athleticism, scouting reports consistently mention his aggressiveness, explosiveness, and toughness as strengths. At 6’ 5”, Diallo posted a wingspan of just over 6’ 11”, which helps him defensively.
Diallo still has plenty of room to improve, especially his shooting. He shot just 20% beyond the arc and 64% from the free throw line last year. With the ball in his hands, Diallo must continue to work on his ball-handling skills and decision-making.
Since we have yet to see the young man play in college, here is a short highlight reel of his senior year at the Putnam Science Academy.
Yet even with his freakish athleticism, Diallo has received some not-so-positive feedback from NBA scouts.
“I didn’t think he was ready (to play at Kentucky),” one scout said. “And as far as not doing the 5-on-5, we’ve seen it in the past where once there’s a little bit of mystery, it helps to keep flying under the radar. It’s never a bad thing to be strategic and avoid exposing yourself. That’s my guess on why he’s doing this.”
Maybe he’s not ready. Maybe he should return to Kentucky for a year and weigh his options in 2018. After all, Diallo has yet to hire an agent, which allows him to receive feedback from teams and still return to college. Maybe he’s learning which parts of his game need more work.
Maybe one team will take a chance on him.
“Right now, he’s a D-League player,” said one scout, “but someone who is so interesting as a prospect that, if you have multiple first-round picks or an early second, he would be great to invest in. It just comes down to the right team having to come through - someone with a D-League team, the perfect situation, maybe a playoff team that can let him develop - otherwise, it’s probably in his best interest to come back and work on his shooting and get bigger and stronger.”
Interestingly enough, the Indiana Pacers somewhat fit that description. The Pacers are indeed a playoff team with a D-League affiliate. Regardless, I would still be surprised to see new Team President Kevin Pritchard take a chance on the raw prospect.
Should Diallo choose to hire an agent and stay in the NBA Draft, a team like the Brooklyn Nets - who are young and have multiple first round picks - would be more likely to select the young talent.
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