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  • Missouri Tigers - February 21, 2017 - 9:00 PM EST - Mizzou Arena, Columbia, Mo. - SEC Network

Hamidou Diallo signs with Kentucky

Normally Kentucky head coach John Calipari waits for a new season to add five-star players to his roster. On Wednesday, he got a head start.

Hamidou Diallo, a five-star shooting guard from the class of 2017, has reclassified and signed a financial aid agreement with the Wildcats, UK announced. The Queens, New York, native graduated from high school last spring and is expected to sit out this season before playing for Kentucky during the 2017-18 season with a valuable semester of college work under his belt. He is, however, eligible to play in games immediately.

Hamidou Diallo, a five-star shooting guard out of Queens, New York, has signed a financial aid agreement and enrolled at Kentucky. (photo by Chris Reynolds)

Hamidou Diallo, a five-star shooting guard out of Queens, New York, has signed a financial aid agreement and enrolled at Kentucky. (photo by Chris Reynolds)

“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,” 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.”

The 6-foot-5 Diallo is a consensus top-15 prospect by each of the four major recruiting services. He’s ranked No. 9 nationally by 247Sports, No. 10 by Rivals and Scout, and No. 11 by ESPN. He is the No. 1 ranked shooting guard in the class by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout, and No. 3 by ESPN.

Diallo helped lead the USA Men’s U18 National Team to a gold medal during the summer with a 5-0 record at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile. There, Diallo averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. In high school, he was named all-state and all-conference in both 2015 and 2016. He averaged 19.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with the New York Rens on the Nike EYBL circuit during the spring and summer of 2016.

The uber-athletic guard has played for Putnam Science Academy this year as a post-graduate player. An aggressive player, Diallo has great length for a guard, a fantastic motor and many believe he could develop into a lockdown defensive player on the perimeter. He also excels at getting to the basket thanks to his speed and mentality on the court. Recruiting analysts everywhere seem to agree Diallo has as much upside as any player in the entire class due to the aforementioned qualities.

By joining the Cats now, Diallo will be able to compete and play against one of the best backcourts in the country each day in practice.

“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 UK’s fifth signee from the class of 2017, joining guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green in the backcourt, as well as forwards Nick Richards and PJ Washington.

Each of Coach Cal’s first eight recruiting classes at Kentucky have been ranked either first or second by each of the four major recruiting services. The 2017 class, which is currently the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the nation, would only add to that. Including Diallo, 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.

Hamidou Diallo

  • 6-foot-5, 188 pounds from Queens, New York
  • Attended Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Conn.
  • Helped lead USA Men’s U18 National Team to a gold medal at 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile, averaging 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game
  • Named all-state and all-conference in both 2015 and 2016
  • Averaged 19.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with the New York Rens on the Nike EYBL circuit
  • Exceptional athletic ability, great length and a high motor. Plays the game with great intensity and crashes the boards well
  • Five-star prospect
  • Ranked No. 9 nationally by 247Sports, No. 10 by Rivals and Scout, and No. 11 by ESPN
  • 1 ranked shooting guard in the class of 2017 by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout, and the No. 3 shooting guard in the country, according to ESPN
  • Chose UK over UConn and Arizona
  • Twitter: @Diallo1Hamidou
  • Instagram: @otn_hami

Why Diallo chose the Cats

“I’m blessed and excited to be here at the University of Kentucky. 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.”

Coach Cal says

“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. 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.”

What they’re saying about Diallo

“Diallo’s athleticism and ability to play explosively above the rim is perhaps unmatched in the national class. At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, his measurables are equally impressive, and combined with his elastic body type, give him a wealth of weapons on the defensive end that allow him to fly around the court and create offense from his defense virtually whenever he so desires.” – ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein

“I think it’s going to be incredible. The thing with Hamidou is that everything you cannot teach about basketball, he’s got in spades. Literally, every single intangible, everything athletically, he’s got that. He’s a 10 out of 10.” – New York Rens coach Andy Borman, via the Lexington Herald-Leader

Diallo video highlights