Scout/Jeff Drummond

Without playing a game for Kentucky Wildcats, Hamidou Diallo to test NBA Draft waters

Redshirt freshman guard will not hire an agent, keeping path open for return to UK.

Hamidou Diallo may not be part of the Wildcats' plan for 2017-18 after all.

The Kentucky program announced Sunday that the redshirt freshman guard will go through the NBA Draft process but will not hire an agent, providing an opportunity to return to school if he withdraws his name before the May 24 deadline. 

“Playing in the NBA has always been the ultimate goal for me,” Diallo said in a statement released by UK. “It’s part of what makes Kentucky so special is that it prepares you for the next level better than anywhere else. When I decided to enroll in school in January, my plan was to come to Kentucky to work on my game and to focus on school. At the end of the season, I knew I wanted to see where I was in the draft process and go through that so I could get a proper evaluation.

“That plan hasn’t changed, and that’s why I am declaring for the NBA Draft. I do not plan on hiring an agent at this time. I want to see where my game is and explore my options. I just want to keep all doors open, and I want to thank Coach Cal, the coaching staff and my teammates for allowing me to pursue my dreams. My game has grown so much in the four months I’ve been at UK."

Diallo, a 6-foot-5 guard from Queens, N.Y., was the top-rated shooting guard in the Class of 2017 but was eligible to enroll early at UK due to graduating high school last spring. He joined the Wildcats in January and practiced with the team but did not play in a game for the SEC champions. Since he'll be turning 19 this summer, he's eligible to enter the draft.

He is the sixth member of the team to declare for the NBA Draft, joining De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe and Isaac Humphries. All have hired agents with the exception of Diallo and Adebayo.

“With the information that will be available to Hami and the feedback he will receive by going through this process, I fully support his decision,” head coach John Calipari said. “It’s in Hami’s best interests to evaluate if now is his time or if he would be better served returning to school. 

"Whatever Hami ultimately chooses to do, you’re talking about an athletic guard with great ball skills, an unbelievable finisher and a terrific defender. He’s gotten so much better in his four months with us and he’s only going to continue to get better.”

Kentucky continues to recruit backcourt players aggressively in this year's class. Calipari has signed high school stars Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jemarl Baker as part of Scout's No. 1 national recruitng class. He is still pursuing Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith and Pitt grad transfer Cameron Johnson. 

The NBA Draft Combine will take place May 9-14 in Chicago. Players who have not hired an agent will have 10 days following that showcase opportunity to make a final decision as to whether to forego their athletic eligibility or return to school.

Since Calipari joined the Wildcat program for the 2009-10 season, UK has produced 28 NBA Draft picks over seven seasons, more than double any other school. Included in the 28 are 21 first-round selections, three No. 1 overall picks, and 14 lottery picks.  

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