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Our dear friend Michele asks: How important is the emergence of Hamidou’s outside game as he can now be viewed as a legitimate 3-point threat?
Great question, and I think it’s very important. After hitting four 3-pointers against Virginia Tech — including the most important shot of the game with 50 seconds to go — Diallo is now 10 of 26 from beyond the arc. That’s 38.5 percent, which represents a dramatic improvement over his high school and AAU numbers.
He made just 20 percent of his threes on the high-level Nike circuit two summers ago and exactly the same (2 for 10) last summer for Team USA at the under-19 FIBA World Cup. So if he can keep up his current pace, it’s huge not only for Diallo’s NBA draft stock but also for the way teams will be forced to defend the Wildcats.
Outside shooting was the No. 1 preseason concern for this team, but now Kevin Knox has made 16 threes in 10 games, Quade Green is shooting 44 percent from deep, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is at 46 percent and Wenyen Gabriel has made 7 of 20.
The Wildcats sank 11 of 22 threes to outshoot Virginia Tech on Saturday and, while that isn’t going to happen very often, it’s clear UK can shoot it well enough that opponents now have to rethink playing a zone or sagging all the time on defense.
When other teams start crowding Kentucky on the perimeter, that opens up a whole new world of offensive options and makes the super-athletic, crazy-long Cats even more dangerous.
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