On Tuesday, Kansas head coach Bill Self received news that must have put a smile on his face. Cheick Diallo told the world that he will be attending to the University of Kansas.
Along with Kansas, Diallo (#7 on ESPN’s Top 100) was considering St. John’s, Kentucky, Iowa State and Pittsburgh throughout his recruiting process. Diallo now joins PF Carlton Bragg (#21 on ESPN’s Top 100) as the second member of KU’s 2015 recruiting class. Diallo’s decision to attend Kansas completely changes the complexion of next year’s team.
Kansas lacked a real inside presence in the 2014-15 season, and that is exactly what Diallo will provide as a Jayhawk. The 6’9″ PF/C Mali native is a ball of energy. Diallo is known for his high motor and ability to outwork everyone else on the floor. Those efforts were on display in the McDonald’s All-American game (18 points, 10 rebounds) and the Jordan Brand Classic (26 points, 11 rebounds) as Diallo took home MVP honors in both games.
Diallo will always command opposing offenses to account for him and his physical presence. Diallo hunts the ball when he is on the floor, and his long, athletic frame enforces his natural shot-blocking ability, providing Kansas with a true defensive threat. Along with his shot-blocking prowess, Diallo is also known for his work in transition and his ability to rebound. He will provide everything that Kansas was missing at the center position last season.
Diallo will block shots, score in transition, and rebound. Last year’s KU team desperately needed a player to do those three things consistently. Offensively, Diallo has been showing an improved (though imperfect) jump shot, but he will will need to develop some back-to-the-basket moves to become a bigger threat on offense. As of now, I expect Diallo to slide right into the Kansas starting lineup next season. Diallo was the guy that Kansas needed, and they got him.
Projected starting lineup for the 2015-16 Kansas Jayhawks
PG – Frank Mason III
SG – Wayne Selden Jr.
SF – Brannen Greene
PF – Perry Ellis
C – Cheick Diallo
Even with the addition of Diallo, Kansas is not done recruiting.
Brannen Greene is currently projected to be next year’s starting SF, but if Bill Self has his way, Greene will have some serious competition. KU remains in the race for SF Jaylen Brown (#4 on ESPN’s Top 100). Brown could be the key to making KU the preseason #1 team in the country. He is incredibly athletic and will provide a spark wherever he lands, but nobody can seem to figure out his plans. Brown has cut his list to five schools: Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan and Cal. There have been a few Adidas-based rumors that he has tried to squash, but that brand loyalty may impact his final decision. I think KU is a major player for Brown’s final decision.
With Brown’s decision expected in the next couple of weeks, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Brown will be at Kansas. He would slide right into the spot that Kelly Oubre opened by opting for the NBA draft. If Brown joins Diallo and Bragg, KU will be the preseason favorites to cut down the nets next season.