LEXINGTON, Ky. – Hamidou Diallo, widely considered the top shooting guard in the class of 2017, has signed a financial aid agreement with the Kentucky men’s basketball team and is enrolled in classes. He began his first semester at the University of Kentucky on Wednesday, Jan. 11, for the spring term after graduating in May from the Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.
Diallo (pronounced ha-MUH-do DEE-ah-lo), a top-10 prospect in the 2017 class, is expected to practice with the team this semester and begin game competition in the 2017-18 season, though he is eligible to play in games immediately.
“I’m blessed and excited to be here at the University of Kentucky,” Diallo said. “I can’t wait to hit the floor and get rolling and get better each and every day. I chose the University of Kentucky because the plan Coach Cal had for me was just phenomenal and I felt like this was the best place for me to achieve my goals. I felt like this was the best choice for me and my family.”
Diallo is the fifth prospect to sign with Kentucky out of the 2017 class, joining five-star signees Quade Green, Nick Richards and P.J. Washington, and four-star signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. UK can only comment on prospects who have signed national letters of intent or financial aid agreements. The next national spring signing period is in April, when UK expects to announce any additional signees.
“What excited me was that Hamidou wanted more than anything else to train with our guys and to practice and wasn’t worried about playing games this year,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “It gives him an unbelievable head start on next year, and as I told him, he’s being put in a position to lead next season because he’s going to have that head start on everyone else.
“As far as what Hamidou can do, he’s a 6-5, 6-6 wing who is an unbelievable defender, athletic, has great ball skills and is a terrific finisher. He’s going to challenge Malik (Monk), De’Aaron (Fox), Isaiah (Briscoe), Mychal (Mulder) and Dominique (Hawkins) every day, which is great for our team, as well as what they’ll challenge him to do. This wasn’t expected, but I’m so happy for him that it’s played out this way where he can come in and focus on getting better and getting ready to chase his dreams.”
National pundits are already tabbing this group as the No. 1 recruiting class for 2017. If so, it would mark the seventh top-ranked recruiting class under John Calipari (according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index) since his inaugural 2009 class at Kentucky. None of Calipari’s previous eight recruiting classes ranked lower than third in the RSCI.
Diallo, from Queens, New York, is Kentucky’s third guard in the 2017 class. At 6-foot-5, 188 pounds, Diallo is a long and extremely athletic wing with a ton of upside. A high-flying, high-scoring guard who excels at getting to the basket, Diallo is considered an elite finisher with a potential to be a lockdown defender.
Among the major recruiting services (Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247 Sports), he is rated as high as No. 9 (247 Sports) and no lower than No. 11 (ESPN). Both 247 Sports and Scout consider him the No. 1 shooting guard in the 2017 class.
In his final season in high school, in 2015-16, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 record with an appearance in the state semifinals. The two-time all-state honoree averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his senior season before graduating in the fall. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds as a junior.
Diallo was a key member of the 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team that won a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in July in Chile, where he averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds for Team USA.
Diallo’s enrollment marks the second straight midyear enrollee for Calipari and Kentucky. Current redshirt freshman forward Tai Wynyard enrolled early last season.
Kentucky has now signed 41 top-50 recruits, 35 top-25 players and 21 top-10 players (according to Rivals’ rankings) in Calipari’s nine recruiting classes at Kentucky.