Five-star guard Hamidou Diallo has committed to Kentucky and plans to enroll next weekend, he announced Saturday.
Diallo, a bouncy 6'6" guard attending Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, made his choice public in his home state of New York. He picked the Wildcats over Arizona, Indiana, UConn, Kansas and Syracuse, with Kentucky and UConn considered the two front-runners.
Scout.com rates Diallo the 10th best player in the 2017 class. According to Scout’s Evan Daniels, Diallo is not expected to play this season.
The choice comes without much surprise, but Diallo’s situation is complex: as Scout’s Brian Snow detailed for SI.com on Friday, Diallo actually graduated high school in the spring of 2016 and will be eligible for the NBA draft in June, which gave him a window to leave Putnam Science early. An extremely athletic guard with a questionable jump shot, Diallo has shown plenty of pro potential, but must figure out what path he will take to get there.
Diallo will likely wind up simply training with the Wildcats, enrolling but not playing in games, and taking advantage of the facilities and competition in practice as he preps for the draft. It’s also possible he stays in school, plays in 2017–18 and enters the draft a year later.
Whether or not he plays, even choosing to go to school remains unusual given that Diallo is considered a potential first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Thon Maker made the leap from high school to the NBA last season, using the age rule to bypass college entirely and winding up a Top 10 pick, joining the Bucks at No. 7 overall. Diallo’s degree of exposure at Kentucky could help or hurt scouts’ opinions, given his relatively limited sample of opportunities to play in front of NBA decision-makers.
So, although Diallo has officially pledged for the Wildcats, his immediate basketball future remains muddier. His unique early-career saga will remain a case study to follow for the next few months, at minimum.