By LARRY VAUGHT
Hamidou Diallo had been in Rupp Arena before, but never when Kentucky had a basketball game. That changed Saturday when Kentucky hosted Auburn and Diallo’s, UK’s newest signee, not only was on the bench in street clothes for the game, but he also took some shots before the game.
“For him to be in there, he was excited. That’s what I asked him. He had been to other college basketball games — been to great atmospheres. So I think for him it was neat to see it,” said Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus.
“Obviously I’m speaking maybe for him in that. But just in the short conversation that I had with him pregame, he was excited.”
Diallo joined the team last week. As of now, the plan is for him to practice but not play this year to get a head start next season.
“He’s here for the right reasons: to become his best version. He knows that it’s a process and you can’t skip steps. And sitting, watching and learning is a big part of that. Hami’s an extremely bright, inquisitive young man. I think these next couple of months are going to be critical for his development and being the best he can be,” Justus said.
Diallo has yet to do a lot in practice with UK having to concentrate on game preparation. Justus says he’s been limited to a few “breakdown drills” in the last few days.
“I think as we get into these next couple of weeks where he starts to feel a little bit more familiar with the system and what we’re wanting from him, I think we’ll start to see a little bit more of what he is and what he can’t do,” Justus said.