By LARRY VAUGHT
At times he might have wondered what it would be like to be playing at Kentucky now, but Hamidou Diallo insists he never lost track of his plan.
He enrolled at Kentucky in January intending to redshirt the rest of this season and then have a head start on the 2017-18 season where he figures to be a starting guard for coach John Calipari’s team.
He’s a five-star recruit with the length and athleticism that Calipari loves — and will need with the expected backcourt departures of Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe.
Diallo recently shared a variety of insights on what the past few months have been like for him since he arrived in Lexington.
Question: What has the learning experience here been like for you so far?
Diallo: “I mean, it has been great. Ever since I have been here I have been picking up on better habits. So it has been great.”
Question: Has it been harder than you expected?
Diallo: “No, it has been just about what I expected. I have got a lot of work and I am not scared to work. Just continuous work and business.”
Question: Does it help that you already knew several of your teammates?
Diallo: “I would say definitely knowing these guys did not make it as difficult. They just took me in and showed me the ropes. Ever since I have been here, they treated me like family.”
Question: Does being here now give you a huge advantage over incoming freshmen next season?
Diallo: “Definitely. I have been here, so those guys coming in it will basically be my job to show them the ropes. For our team to be successful next year, I will have to go out there and be the best I can be.”
Question: What is game day like for you?
Diallo: “Definitely been hard. For anybody that wants to play, sitting on the bench is hard. It has been tough but was something that I planned. Great but tough.”
Question: Do you catch yourself thinking how you could be helping the team in games?
Diallo: “Yes. It’s tough not playing.”
Question: What have you spent the most time working on in practice?
Diallo: “Just being consistent in everything I do. Try to be a professional and be consistent every day. Definitely working on the shot. Just be efficient. Working on strength, shot, stuff like that.”
Question: Can you stop these guys in practice?
Diallo: “Definitely. Everybody knows I defend pretty well. I just come in there and compete with them and make sure they are prepared for games.”
Question: Are you an emotional player?
Diallo: “I always have been. I just want to go out there and leave it all on the floor. That’s how I see it.”
Question: Do you consider yourself an unselfish player who likes to pass?
Diallo: “That has always been me. I have never really been selfish. I feel like if the team is winning, then I am winning. That’s how I see it.”
Question: How are you and Calipari bonding?
Diallo: “Just great on and off the court. He is trying to teach me things to do and getting me out of my high school habits. It has been great the whole time here.”
Question: Do you still talk to signee Quade Green, a point guard from Philadelphia, a lot?
Diallo: “Yes. We talk a lot on a daily basis. He is ready to be here. He wants to get here and start working. He is like my brother. I can’t wait for him to get here.”
Question: Are you two still trying to get Mohamed Bamba to sign with Kentucky?
Diallo: “Yes. Hopefully we do get him. I say there is a strong chance.”
Question: What is the best part of Green’s game?
Diallo: “Just how unselfish he is. Great point guard and he can do it all. That is how I see it.”
Question: What about signee Nick Richards, a center from New Jersey?
Diallo: “I have played with him, too. He is just a great defender. Catches lobs, blocks shots, great defender. Very athletic player.”
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