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Hamidou Diallo to Forgo Draft, Return to Kentucky

Photo | UK Athletics

Five-star guard Hamidou Diallo will forgo the 2017 NBA Draft and return to Kentucky for his freshman season, he reported via his Twitter.

“First of all I want to thank the Big Blue Nation for your support I’ve only been a Wildcat for five months, but you have already made me one of your own,” Diallo said in a statement via his Twitter account. “I know not everyone understood my original decision — but everyone has supported me. 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,” Diallo continued. “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,” Diallo stated. “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.”

“Like I said when I submitted my name for the draft, playing in the NBA has always been my ultimate goal,” said Diallo. “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,” Diallo continued. “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.”

Diallo will officially join five-stars Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington, Nick Richards, Quade Green and four-stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jemarl Baker. Kentucky will finish with the number one 2017 recruiting class.

Kentucky lost underclassmen De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, Bam Adebayo and Isaac Humphries to the draft. Kentucky will also lose Mychal Mulder, Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis to graduation. Overall the Cats lost 95% of their scoring from the 2016-17 season.

Calipari expressed his support and excitement for Diallo’s decision.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” head coach John Calipari said in a release from the school. “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.”

Even though he hasn’t played a single minute, Diallo will be one of the more experienced players on a team expected to be dominated by the incoming freshman class. Kentucky will return Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynard with Gabriel being the only returner to play in all 38 games during the 2016-17 season.

Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that several teams in the 20’s range were serious about selecting Diallo, but no guarantee came high enough to convince him to stay in the NBA draft.

Kentucky is currently ranked number 7 in the CBS Sports Top 25 plus one. A ranking based on an assumption that Diallo would remain in the NBA Draft.

CBS has Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State, Wichita State, Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, Villanova, USC and Florida as their current top 10.

 

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