Cheick Diallo Awaits NCAA Clearance

Incoming freshman center Cheick Diallo has not yet been cleared to play in the 2015-16 NCAA season.

When five-star center Cheick Diallo committed to the Jayhawks in April, fans began to hope that he would be the consistent presence that Cliff Alexander was not. Alexander, Naismith High School Player of the Year in 2014, came to Kansas with All-American aspirations. The next spring, he went undrafted. Underwhelming progress led to Alexander’s benching at various times throughout the year before eligibility concerns ended his season, concluding the tenure of one of the most disappointing stories in Kansas history.

As fall approaches and the Jayhawks once again are projected to be a national title contender, the ongoing eligibility concern of Alexander’s replacement continues as Kansas’ team ceiling spins in limbo.

While it’s not a rarity for incoming freshman to still be awaiting clearance in August, Diallo’s situation is raising eyebrows. Diallo, who has been in Lawrence since early July, has already completed six credit hours via summer classes.

The problem appears to be not with Diallo specifically, but for any player associated with Our Savior New American School, a private high school on Long Island, NY. Diallo was born and raised in the African nation of Mali, moving to the United States in 2012 to pursue a career in basketball. Our Savior New American is famous for its high acceptance of international players, and one of Diallo’s teammates, Oklahoma State-bound Davon Dillard, also had eligibility issues before being cleared earlier in the week.

Diallo’s high school is currently under investigation as well, with NCAA’s Eligibility Center stating that the objective is to “determine if (Our Savior New American) meets the academic requirements for NCAA cleared status.”

Coach Bill Self has had his fair share of freshman ineligibility problems, from Alexander’s disappointing season to Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor having to wait until October to be ruled partially ineligible for their first seasons. Brandon Rush also wasn’t cleared until September. Self said that he doesn’t anticipate a decision in the near future.

If cleared, Diallo will likely be the favorite for Big 12 freshman of the year. He figures to anchor one of the best teams in college basketball, immediately stepping in to fill the biggest hole in Kansas’ lineup last season. The fall semester in Lawrence begins August 24, but with over two months until Late Night on October 9, Self hopes that Diallo will be cleared early enough to avoid missing any practice time. Self iterated that Diallo has done nothing wrong to this point, stating that he’s “done everything that’s been asked of him” in an interview with The Kansas City Star.

It’s certainly not time to panic in Lawrence, with more than three months to go until Kansas plays its first regular season game. But after what Jayhawk fans sat through last year with Cliff Alexander, the academic clearing of Cheick Diallo can’t come soon enough.

Ryan Landreth

I’m a recent graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University. In addition to writing for Rock Chalk Blog, I host the Inside the Paint podcast that covers KU basketball, and I write for Royals Review in the summer. My grandma has had season tickets to Jayhawk basketball for 30 years, and I have the privilege of going to most games with her.