Yags’ Point Forward - Hamidou’s Highlights & Doubters

by Mike Yagmin | Monday, November 28th, 2016

Yags’ Point Forward - Hamidou’s Highlights & Doubters

33 NBA scouts and front office personnel showed up at last weekend's National Prep Showcase to get a look at Putnam Science guard Hamidou Diallo, who is eligible for next year's NBA Draft after graduating from high school last year.

Since that time, there have been numerous pieces in the national media assessing his performance and gathering feedback from those scouts, much of which has been mixed - focusing on missed jumpers and an inconsistent motor.

Listen, Diallo didn’t play the best game of his career in either of Putnam’s wins this past weekend. And there were times when he looked disinterested and chose to defer to his talented teammates instead of demanding the ball. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the outside and could’ve asserted himself a little more defensively. But he also put a lot of good stuff on tape and gave everyone in attendance a reason to be excited about the type of player he can become in the future.

Diallo averaged 17 points and 7.5 rebounds against Massanutten and Sunrise, each game being the night’s main event. Diallo was only credited with 3 assists but the attention he demanded from the opposing defenses created open lanes for his teammates to work with, while Diallo’s defender had his back obliviously turned to the play. Facing double teams and a packed paint, he only turned the ball over three times in 62 total minutes played. Diallo shot 14-29 from the field, made seven shots in each game, hit one of his two 3-point attempts and gave the crowd three or four reasons to rise to their feet.

The boring old statement that, “Diallo needs to get stronger and his jump shot needs to improve” is akin to claiming, “Diallo needs to continue living and playing basketball for the next 3-to-5 years.” It’s not only obvious but it’s also kind of lazy and can be applied to the overwhelming majority of the prospects in the NBA Draft every single year.

At the end of the day, we’re talking about 19-year old young men who are still in the maturation phase of their lives both physically and mentally. Shooting is a repetition-based skill that only gets mastered over time. Strength comes with a workout plan that allows a basketball player to continue honing his craft, sound nutrition featuring clean non-fatty foods and a structured regimen that allows for sleep and recovery. Expecting a 19-year old to come into the league with a formidable jumper and a man’s body is unreasonable.

The reality of Hamidou’s and every other NBA prospects’ situation in today’s game is simple: almost none of them are immediately ready to contribute to or turn the team that drafted them into- a contender during the first few years of their career. 19-year old basketball prospects are drafted with their long-term potential and ultimate ceiling in mind, as GM’s use all of the facts they can gather to decide whether or not a particular player is worth their franchise’s investment.

With that in mind, here are some of the things I do know about Hamidou Diallo:

- He’s got elite athleticism that remains elite when compared to the best basketball players in the world.

- Measuring in at over 6’5”, Hamidou has very good height for a wing at the college level and beyond. But when paired with his 6’11” wingspan, he offers great size, an ideal frame and a body type that can easily add 20 pounds of muscle over the next few years.

- He needs to expend a lot more energy on the defensive end. Hamidou is surrounded by enough talent at Putnam that he can afford to put a lot of effort into becoming a lockdown defender. Too often, he gives his opponent the easy way out instead of enforcing his will and athleticism upon them.

- The amount Hamidou’s game has improved over the last few years is astonishing, going from an otherwise unknown player at John Bowne HS in Queens, NY to (IMHO) a top-5 national prospect.

- Hamidou has proven that he can be the most dominant scorer, even when surrounded by other dominant scorers. He’s done so in the EYBL playing alongside nationally ranked prospects like Jordan Tucker, Jordan Nwora and Jose Alvarado with the NY Rens. He’s also done this during his time at Putnam, playing alongside strong personalities like Mamadou Diarra, Saul Phiri and Eric Ayala.

There are many more reasons that convinced a few dozen NBA front offices to send a representative to New Haven, CT this weekend to get a look at Diallo. In return, Hamidou gave NBA scouts a glimpse at the areas in which he needs to vastly improve, while also providing them with a number of tantalizing reasons to check back in throughout the ’16-’17 season to track his development. This weekend was just the first step.

Hamidou Diallo would be the first one to tell you that he needs to improve all areas of his game before being considered a legitimate NBA player. But due to his elite athleticism, rapidly improving skillset and explosive production against elite competition, Hamidou Diallo is already a legitimate NBA Draft prospect. While being an NBA player and being an NBA Draft prospect are two entirely different things, all of the chatter surrounding Hamidou isn’t going to stop until the commissioner Adam Silver calls his name.

When will that be? We’ll all just have to wait and see.