INDIANAPOLIS – After a strong first stop on the spring AAU circuit, five-star 2017 shooting guard Hamidou Diallo picked up a pair of major scholarship offers last week: Duke and Kentucky.
“Two great programs run by great coaches,” Diallo said during the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League’s second weekend in Indianapolis. “It’s just a blessing. That’s all I can really say. All the hard work I’ve been doing has been paying off.”
Diallo is a 6-foot-5, 190-pound star at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, and both the home-state Huskies and Maryland figure to be factors in his recruitment, too. But how are the Wildcats and Blue Devils selling themselves?
“Kentucky’s pitch was just the NBA thing,” Diallo said. “Duke’s pitch was if you come to Duke, you’re going to be set for life. It’s more than just basketball. (John Calipari’s) pitch was he gets guys ready for the next level. Look at the numbers: it shows. It’s the best place for you if you want to make it to the NBA.
“Both pitches are appealing. It’s just a hard decision. I’ve got a lot of schools recruiting me, a bunch of schools capable of taking me to the NBA.”
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Diallo said he’s far from making a decision – doesn’t even have a top 10 yet – and probably won’t set up any visits until late summer. But Jerry Meyer, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, likes Kentucky’s chances. On his site’s “Crystal Ball,” 9 of 10 recruitniks’ predictions for Diallo favor the Wildcats.
“The word is that he coveted a Kentucky offer,” Meyer said. “I think Kentucky is in a great position. Connecticut, because he’s from that region, is strong with him. And then Duke offered, and any time Duke offers, you’ve got to take note, because Duke doesn’t like to offer and not get a kid – I think maybe more than anyone.”
As for Diallo’s talent, he’s ranked as high as No. 9 overall in the class (by Scout.com) and no lower than 14th (by ESPN). An explosive athlete who is still smoothing out his perimeter skills, the rising senior guard averaged 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals in his first seven games on the EYBL circuit this spring.
One concern: he shot just 59.7 percent at the free-throw line and only 22.7 percent from 3-point range.
“The only knock, really, is consistency on his long-range shot, but it’s improving and I would expect that to continue improving,” Meyer said. “I think he’s going to end make a push up the rankings. I don’t know how high he’s going to end up by the end of the summer, but he’s right at the bottom of the top 10 and I think he’s going to put a lot of pressure on players ahead of him.”
One potentially good sign for Kentucky is that Diallo is close with 2016 Cats signee Wenyen Gabriel, but the former said not to read too much into that.
“Wenyen is my boy before he even committed to UK. I don’t really see him as a UK (player),” said Diallo, although he conceded: “He’s just trying to get me on board. He’s basically (saying): What am I waiting for?”
Kyle Tucker can be reached at (502) 582-4361. Email him at email@example.com .