Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards both had a group of family, friends and former teammates on hand for their homecoming on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Diallo, a Queens, N.Y., native, went for a career-high 23 points and 4 rebounds with about 20 family and friends watching as No. 8 Kentucky routed Monmouth, 93-76. Richards, who played at The Patrick School in Hillside, N.J., added 10 points and 8 rebounds.
“Just coming back today it was just great,” said Diallo, who estimated he hasn’t played in New York City in three years. “I got a lot of family and friends out there. They just wanted to see me play live. They haven’t seen me play in a long time.
“And plus we got the ‘W.'”
Said Kentucky coach John Calipari: “Nick struggled but he got it going at the end. Hami played well. Less is more for him. But that is so hard.”
P.J. Washington had 20 points and 6 rebounds for Kentucky (8-1) and Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Philadelphia native Quade Green left the game during the second game because of an eye injury. He finished with 12 points and 4 assists.
Hamidou Diallo had about 20 family and friends today at MSG where he went off for 23 in UK’s win. A number of NBA guys were there too. pic.twitter.com/eLWsGD9dZD
Deion Hammond paced Monmouth (3-7) with 19 points and Micah Seaborn added 18.
“It’s amazing when you can have an opportunity to watch two of your guys play at the Garden,” said Patrick School coach Chris Chavannes, referring to Richards and Monmouth’s Marcus McClary, who were part of the Celtics team that won the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title last season.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s nice to see Marcus out there as well. It’s a great opportunity for him as well.”