HYATTSVILLE, Md. — Two days after being scouted by Boston Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge at his high school, Hamidou Diallo won game MVP honors at the National High School Hoops Festival at DeMatha Catholic High School.
The 6-foot-6 Diallo went for 29 points and 9 rebounds as Putnam Science Academy beat Westtown (PA), 76-47. Westtown star Mohamed Bamba did not play in the game.
Diallo is eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft — hence Ainge scouting him — and there were four NBA scouts on hand on Saturday, according to Scout.com. Yet Diallo has said he’s “100 percent” set on attending college for at least a year.
“My list is Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona, Syracuse, UCONN, and Indiana,” said Diallo.
Putnam Science with a commanding 76-47 win over WesttownMVP: Hamidou Diallo 🏆#hoopsfest16 pic.twitter.com/6zo7hRKyWk — Separation Sports (@ssmgt) December 11, 2016
Diallo mentioned the keys to his decision on his college choice.
“Picking the right school first and I’m just big on player development,” he said. “Just trying to make it to the next level, not only make it but have a great career.”
He added: “I’d feel I’d work well under a coach that I know loves me and pushes me every day and wants me to be my best and makes sure I’m not slacking.”
One school that may be a favorite for Diallo is Kentucky.
“Great program and great players,” he said of Kentucky. “I haven’t really got to visit so I haven’t really got a feel for Kentucky itself but it just seems like they’re great people up there. I meet with Coach [John] Calipari and [assistant Tony] Barbee a couple times and they seemed like great guys.”
Diallo mentioned that Calipari probably came to his school around 3-4 times.
Diallo is also very high on Indiana and Tom Crean and his development of players.
“Tom Crean is great on player development,” he said. “You can see that in his past players, players like Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo. Those are just two guys who he’s made better and so that’s a big thing on Indiana.”
Kansas is always a perennial power and Diallo has his eyes on them as well.
“Kansas is on my list,” he said. “Coach Bill Self and Coach [Norm] Roberts have been recruiting me for a long time now, I’d say. And they seem like great guys. I haven’t really got a feel for the campus up there.”
Syracuse is not too far from where Diallo plays now and it’s another school in his top six. Assistant coach Gerry McNamara was actually watching him Saturday night.
“Syracuse, I’ve been up there a couple times,” he said. “My family is up there. I love the fans up there. The fans are great.“
Arizona may be thousands of miles away but they may have a very good shot at Diallo.
“Coach Book [Richardson] and Coach Sean Miller have been up to my school a bunch of times,” he said. “I’d say probably three. They’re really good at recruiting. Coach Sean seems like he’s a really good guy and it just seems like a family atmosphere but I haven’t really got to visit Arizona so I can’t really tell you how I’d fit. They’re in the Pac-12 and I’m really interested in that conference as they play an up and down transition [style].”
UConn is also highly involved and head coach Kevin Ollie and associate head coach Glen Miller have seen him numerous times. UConn also features Diallo’s former Putnam teammate Mamadou Diarra, who is injured this season.
“Coach Kevin Ollie is great with player development,” he said. “He runs a great program up there and it seems like a family atmosphere. They just have a great program with great fans.”
Diallo said that no school is recruiting harder than the other and he’s taking his time with recruiting.
“I think he’s ready to move on and make a decision,” Putnam coach Tom Espinosa told the Norwich Bulletin. “He hasn’t made any official visits yet, so I don’t think it will happen until the spring, but enough is enough. His phone blows up every second with brand names, coaches, reporters. I get tons of calls. I think it’s time. He needs to focus on basketball and school.”