Kentucky Basketball: Time to move Hamidou Diallo up your 2018 NBA mock drafts

LEXINGTON, Ky. — On Dec. 4, Sports Illustrated wrote this about Hamidou Diallo in its latest 2018 NBA mock draft: For better or worse, Diallo has been what most NBA scouts expected so far at Kentucky. He’s an exceptional athlete whose skills and feel need added polish.

Twelve days later, on Saturday against Virginia Tech, the freshman shooting guard delivered his most complete game to date. He made four 3-pointers on seven attempts, including the dagger with 50 seconds remaining, and had 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.

Diallo is rewriting his draft profile and reshaping ideas about what is possible for these young Wildcats (9-1) in his likely lone college season. The last four games, he’s scored 19, 19, 23 and 20 points and shot 54 percent from the field — with as many steals (8) as turnovers — and raised his season 3-point percentage to a very respectable 38.5.

Afterward, coach John Calipari praised how much work Diallo has put into improving his jump shot.

“My teammates and coaches, they all believe in me,” Diallo said. “I’m just making them believe. Every day, I’m coming into practice and working hard.”

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But are NBA scouts beginning to believe? A survey of four major mock drafts — some of them not updated in almost two weeks, mind you — shows Diallo projected to be picked anywhere from 15 th to 30 th overall. That’s outside the lottery.

Calipari has recently begun to rant about individual UK players not getting the respect he believes they deserve, which surely includes Diallo.

“I don’t get into none of that. I’m just here to play basketball and focus on what I need to do for this team,” Diallo said. “That’s Coach Cal’s position and he’s going to fight for us, and that’s why I chose to come to Kentucky [but] I’m just here to play basketball and do what he tells me to do.”

RELATED: What Calipari said after shootout win over Hokies

Whatever that is, it’s working. Here now, a rundown of Wildcats projected to be picked in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft:

ESPN (Jonathan Givony)

* Last updated Dec. 5, 2017

10. Kevin Knox

20. Hamidou Diallo

26. Nick Richards

Quotable: The team who drafts Diallo could “groom him into a defensive stopper who can hopefully make shots consistently, an area in which he has been streaky historically.” Full mock draft here.

CBS Sports (Reid Forgrave)

* Last updated Dec. 14, 2017

7. Kevin Knox

15. Hamidou Diallo

21. Jarred Vanderbilt

Quotable: “Not much flash to his game, but Knox is all sorts of solid on both ends of the court … the type of player who can have a quiet 20-point, 10-rebound game.” Full mock draft here.

Sports Illustrated (Jeremy Woo)

* Last updated Dec. 4, 2017

10. Kevin Knox

19. Hamidou Diallo

28. Nick Richards

Quotable: “Predictably, Richards’ play has been all over the place for Kentucky. His tools remain appealing: he moves extremely well and profiles as an athletic roll man, switchable defender and potentially high-level shot blocker.”  Full mock draft here.

* Last updated Dec. 14, 2017

8. Kevin Knox

19. Jarred Vanderbilt

30. Hamidou Diallo

No comments available.  Full mock draft here.

The post Kentucky Basketball: Time to move Hamidou Diallo up your 2018 NBA mock drafts appeared first on SEC Country.

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