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.
Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green Recruiting Mohamed Bamba to Kentucky
INDIANAPOLIS — Hamidou Diallo says his plan right now is to be at Kentucky next season.
And assuming he returns, the 6-foot-6 wing would like Mohamed Bamba to join him in Big Blue Nation.
“Definitely, we’re trying to get Mo down here,” Diallo told me in the Kentucky locker room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the No. 2 Wildcats face No. 15 Northern Kentucky on Friday. “He’s been a head case but we’re still working on that. Hopefully it happens.”
The 6-foot-11 Bamba out of Westtown (PA) and the PSA Cardinals AAU program has taken officials to Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Michigan but has assumed a very low profile of late. He was spotted on social media visiting China and doing good works there, but not much has been heard on the recruiting front. He’s expected to commit in late March or early April.
Kentucky already has a loaded class including guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander along with bigs Nick Richards and P.J. Washington and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt. Four of those players — Green, Vanderbilt, Richards and Alexander — were chosen for the Nike Hoop Summit next month in Portland, Ore.
Diallo, who enrolled at Kentucky in January, said he’s especially tight with Green and looks forward to playing with him.
“That’s like my brother,” he said. “I can’t wait for him to get up here and both of us get in the gym and get after it. Being the competitors that we are, both coming from New York and Philly, that’s why we have such a great bond
The Queens, N.Y., native believes that enrolling early after leaving Putnam Science Academy (CT) will only help him for next season when guards Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and possibly Isaiah Briscoe will be gone to the pros.
“I’m basically practicing against some of the top guards in the country, going after it competing on the offensive end and the defensive end,” Diallo said. “So I’m just getting to learn what it’s like to go up against the top guards in the country.”
The experience he’s getting at Kentucky is unlike anything he would’ve gotten had he remained in prep school.
“For next year I think it’s going to help me a lot,” Diallo said of enrolling early. “Me coming in and getting this half a semester under my belt, it just puts me at a point to be a leader next year.”
He added: “College basketball and high school basketball are two different games so there’s a lot of preparation you have to do, so I feel like I made a good decision.”
Diallo will watch from the bench as his teammates attempt to make an NCAA Tournament push, and he admits he would like to play.
“I mean, yeah, definitely,” he said. “Every competitor wishes he could play [Friday] but there’s a certain plan that’s been set and it just has to be followed.”
As for now, his plan is to remain at Kentucky next season but that could always change.
“As of right now,” he said, I’m coming back next year.”
Photo: Kentucky Athletics
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.