LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Jayhawks freshman Cheick Diallo has all the tools to be a successful player for head coach Bill Self in his first collegiate season. However, the incoming big man hasn’t been cleared just yet to play in 2015-16.
Diallo is under investigation to double check and see if all of his classes that he took at Our Savoir American meet the NCAA regulations and standards. Coach Self said early last month that he’s confident Diallo will indeed be cleared and ready to go for his freshman season, via Sporting News.
It’s an unfortunate situation for the 6-foot-9, 218-pound African native, who was named to the 2016 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award watch list earlier this month. The award recognizes the top center in men’s college basketball.
He joined four other Kansas players, Perry Ellis (Karl Malone Award list), Wayne Selden Jr., Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Julius Erving Award list) and Frank Mason (Bob Cousy Award list), who are also on watch lists.
Diallo, a consensus 5-star recruit, averaged 17.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a senior at Our Savoir American, and he won the New York Gatorade Player of the Year award for the second straight year. He took home MVP honors at the McDonald’s All-American Game with his 18-point, 10-rebound performance and at the Jordan Brand Classic with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Even though he didn’t start playing the game of basketball until the age of 14 in 2010, Diallo took a shot at a legitimate basketball career by moving to the United States in 2012. He joined Our Savoir American as a member of their international program and although he didn’t speak a lick of English, he flourished quickly on and off the court.
Unfortunately for Diallo right now, the hurdle he has to get past has been an issue with his private high school, Our Savoir American in the past. According to a report by Sporting News, players at Alabama and Oklahoma State have had issues with eligibility and clearance while others have ultimately been fine to play.
Diallo’s former teammate, Kobie Eubanks, had been initially set on going to Alabama under scholarship, but it was discovered that he didn’t qualify for one after some of his class credits from Our Savior weren’t accepted.
Now, he’ll play at a junior college.
However, another teammate of Diallo’s, Davon Dillard was cleared and he’ll be able to play under scholarship at Oklahoma State.
We should find out within the next few weeks what Diallo’s ultimate fate is. For now, the Jayhawks have to be hoping for the best, much like they have since the news hit this summer. After all, Diallo is a 4-star recruit and the top Kansas freshman in this year’s class.
“We’ve never had a big guy that could run like this,” Self told KUSports.com. “It’d be nice to have a mindset to play at a much faster tempo than we have in the past. Cheick forces a pace that nobody has ever forced here. He can create pace better than any point guard we’ve ever had here.”
There are endless reasons why Diallo should thrive under coach Self. He’s a physical defender and his 7-foot-4 wingspan helps him bring down rebounds. He can dribble with the best of them, and create plays on his own.
Diallo’s biggest attribute is his high motor and even though his offensive game is rather raw, he should improve in Year One; much like Duke’s Jahlil Okafor did under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Diallo is a much more athletic player than Okafor with more pure speed, but the learning curve from high school to college takes a little time.
Under Self, the sky is the limit for Diallo once he gets cleared as eligible to play by the NCAA this season. With him, Kansas is a favorite to capture the NCAA title.