(First posted at RealGM)
Hamidou Diallo’s time at Kentucky was uneventful.
The six-foot-five swingman arrived in Lexington in January of 2017 but had an agreement with the team that he wouldn’t suit up right away, as he planned to declare for that year’s draft straight out of high school. Diallo was hoping to get a promise he would be picked in the first round but once that promise wasn’t made, he opted to withdraw and play one season of college basketball instead.
Arriving in school half-a-year ahead of his teammates should have given him a leg up to become the most prominent player on last season’s team but that didn’t materialize. Diallo never got the chance to run offense and wasn’t much of a priority in the half-court, getting the eventual touch on ball reversals, curling off staggered screens and posting up smaller matchups but more often than not just standing in the weak-side as a floor-spacer.
On the other end, Diallo was a just a guy for the most part. He proved himself able to execute the scheme when it asked him to switch on the fly but an athlete like him is expected to be an above average individual defender or create events all over the place, neither of which was particularly true at the highest level of college ball, as Kentucky ranked 12th in the country in strength of schedule.
In 37 appearances, the 19-year-old posted a 13.3 PER and averaged 16.2 points per 40 minutes on a below average 47% effective shooting, with the bulk of his 22.5% usage-rate coming in transition. He also had the second worst defensive rating on the team among rotation players.
Based only on his 912 NCAA minutes, Diallo wouldn’t be highly thought of but he has 212 minutes of experience with the United States National Team at the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas and the 2017 U19 FIBA World Cup, as well as 305 minutes at the 2015 and 2016 adidas Nations – events where he was more impressive and built a reputation that maintain him a prospect with a shot to be picked in the 20s, despite the fact his performance in college was underwhelming.
AGAINST A SCRAMBLING DEFENSE
Diallo is a remarkable player in the open court, not just filling the lanes but pushing the ball up the floor himself. He has an in-and-out dribble, can go behind the back in a pinch and is able to euro-step around the last defender, maneuvering his way to the goal as if the opponents were traffic cones.
Diallo is an explosive leaper off one or two feet with some space to take flight and can really hurt the rim on fast-breaks.
In the half-court, he can get all the way to the basket on straight line drives attacking closeouts and out of triple threat position on ball reversals. Diallo has long strides and also a well distributed 198-pound frame in the context of his height, which helped him maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact in college.
He is not as explosive a leaper going up in traffic but has tremendous body control in the air, able to adjust himself mid-flight for acrobatic finishes around rim protectors or launch floaters over them – converting 65.8% of his 111 shots at the basket and earning 5.5 foul shots per 40 minutes.
Diallo is also an asset as a backdoor cutter. He can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense, as 33 of his 73 makes at the basket were assisted.
AGAINST A SET DEFENSE
As I wrote last September, Diallo was known as a resourceful isolation scorer in high school and AAU. He has an explosive first step and a nifty crossover he can rely on to get by his man but the combination of Kentucky’s poor spacing and his suspect shot selection led to a bunch of garbage step-back jumpers over his time in college.
His quickness and body control materialize in his ability to stop on a dime and rise up in a pinch. He has a compact motion, releasing the ball out in front but gets great elevation that he lets it go comfortably over most contests. Diallo can bring the ball up and let it go fluidly but looks like he needs to work on elbow placement and launching the ball from the same point regularly. His touch also needs work, as he nailed just 28% of his 125 mid-range shots last season.
Diallo proved to be an adept passer on the move, able to deliver last-second drop-offs and kick-outs as the defense collapsed to him, but didn’t show anything particularly special in terms of court vision – assisting on just 9.5% of Kentucky’s scores when he was on the floor last season and posting a 0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
His primary role against a set defense was to space the floor but Diallo is only a capable open shot spot-up shooter at this point of his development. He does great shot preparation catching on the hop and some his makes look pretty pure but he struggles off the catch with the same things that limit his efficiency off the dribble – nailing just 33.8% of his 77 three-point shots, at a pace of just 3.4 such attempts per 40 minutes.
Probably more concerning, though, is the fact he hit just 61.1% of his 126 free throws.
Diallo mostly gets down in a defensive stance by hunching rather than bending his knees, keeping his chest up and back flat. Despite undoubtedly possessing quick feet, he doesn’t use his strength to contain dribble penetration, only has a couple of slides in him and eventually gets beat one-on-one.
Diallo averaged 4.2 personal fouls per 40 minutes, so you’d assume he was an active on-ball defender but that was not the case. He lacked intensity negotiating picks at the point of attack and often died on these screens. He has the length to block or challenge shots and passes from behind but doesn’t hustle back to try making these plays often.
As a weak-side defender, Diallo proved himself attentive to his responsibilities executing strategies that asked him to switch on the fly and rotate inside to help crowd the area near the basket. But despite his leaping ability and seven-foot wingspan, he was not a real asset to help protect the rim and didn’t show much of a knack for making plays in the passing lanes – averaging just 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks per 40 minutes.
His closeouts are either lazy or he sells out to run the shooter off his shot, opening up a path for him to easily put the ball on the floor.
His biggest contribution on that end was on the glass, where he collected an unimpressive 11.5% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor.
 DOB: 7/31/1998
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara