It turns out Hamidou Diallo won’t be a “none-and-done” after all. The 6-foot-6 Queens, N.Y., native officially withdrew from the NBA Draft on Wednesday and will return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Diallo, who hasn’t played a real five-on-five game since last December at Putnam Science Academy, will finally suit up for Kentucky to start the 2017-18 season with a chance to impress NBA scouts and basketball fans alike.
“First of all, I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for your support,” Diallo said. “I’ve only been a Wildcat for five months, but you have already made me one of your own. I know not everyone understood my original decision — but everyone has been supportive. Thank you for that.“The one thing I’ve learned through this whole process is how grateful I am that I came to the University of Kentucky. Coach Cal and the staff have had my back throughout this entire journey. They were honest with me from the start, had my best interests at heart and walked me through every step. I couldn’t have asked for a better support system. “I also want to thank the university for understanding how important this decision was to me. This is something I had to do for me and my family, and the school has been supportive of us the whole way. Just so everyone knows, I always planned to pay the school back for my spring tuition for allowing me to enroll last semester because I never thought I would be in this position. If I knew I was leaving after the semester, I would have played to help the team.While testing the waters without an agent, he had been projected as the No. 35 pick per DraftExpress.com and never got a first-round guarantee after working out for Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee and the Nets, the source said. “Brooklyn and Utah were the two teams most serious about selecting him in the first round, but ultimately would not promise before midnight,” one source said. Diallo also pulled out of a workout with the Knicks on Wednesday. “He’s going back to Kentucky with the goal of being a Top 10 pick in next year’s draft,” the source said. Kentucky coach John Calipari said he’s looking forward to coaching Diallo. “I’m really proud of Hami,” Calipari said. “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. He’s a special player and a special person.” As for Kentucky, they already had the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in 2017 per ESPN.com. Now their fans will get to see Diallo suit up alongside another loaded group that includes guards Quade Green, Jemarl Baker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forwards Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington and center Nick Richards.
“Like I said when I submitted my name for the draft, playing in the NBA has always been my ultimate goal. When I enrolled in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on academics. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process so I could get a proper evaluation. “That plan still hasn’t changed. I hope to play in the NBA one day — just not this season. Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it’s in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title. I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can’t wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”
What should Hamidou Diallo do? ?RT for NBA LIKE for Kentucky #BBN pic.twitter.com/kkNmVrOjQ4 — Overtime (@overtime) May 20, 2017