LJW Smithology: KU’s front court could be crowded this season
Cheick Diallo is poised to destroy rims all around the Big 12 for Kansas this year. Once that damage is done, don’t expect him to fall too far on NBA Draft night.
Assuming Diallo eventually gets the green light, the McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic MVP will quickly display tantalizing NBA upside.
When it comes to ball skills and scoring talent, Diallo is arguably the weakest prospect among potential lottery selections. So why is he highly regarded in scouting circles, and why does he have a legitimate chance to land in the top 10 come June?
DEFENSIVE RANGE, ENERGY AND VERSATILITY
It starts with his length and tireless motor. Diallo is an undersized combo big from a height standpoint (6’9″), but his 7’4″ wingspan and 9’1″ standing reach give him great vertical and horizontal range.
Unlike most long-limbed centers, Diallo is a terrific full-court athlete, showcasing the ability to cover huge acreage in a blink.
His mobility will undoubtedly make him a versatile defensive weapon in the NBA. Diallo will not only develop into a top-tier isolation defender, but he’ll also be able to disrupt pick-and-rolls and swoop in from the weak side to derail slashers.
Diallo’s not a perfect stopper yet, as he must improve his decision-making and body mechanics. In the meantime, his assertiveness, physical prowess and natural talent are irresistible. Adam Finkelstein of ESPN.com illustrated Diallo’s multifaceted impact:
He has the capability to dominate a game defensively, not only with his ability to block shots and patrol the paint from wide radiuses, but also by finishing possessions on the defensive glass. Additionally, his quick feet and strong upper body allow him to hedge ball screens on the perimeter and be a physical defender in the post.
Diallo is only 220 pounds (or in that neighborhood) right now, so he needs to gain 25-30 additional pounds before he can win positional battles in the paint. In the near future, opposing centers will be able to gain low-post real estate and box him out for rebounds.
Fortunately, Diallo’s explosive energy and long-term value make him a worthwhile prospect on the defensive side. His athleticism and length will bother the shots of stronger foes, and his speed will allow him switch out onto guards and force turnovers in unsettled situations.
The 2015 Late Night in the Phog, presented by Hy-Vee, will run from 6:30 p.m., to approximately 9:30 p.m. In a twist from previous Late Nights, like men's basketball home games, KU students will be allowed to enter Allen Fieldhouse two hours prior to Late Night festivities, at approximately 4:30 p.m. As on game nights, KU students will enter through their customary separate entrance on the northeast side of Allen Fieldhouse. Doors will be open to the general public at 5 p.m.
Admission is free and Late Night will remain a ticketless, first-come, first-served event; no re-entry passes will be distributed. Children 12 and under will not be admitted without an accompanying adult. The Fieldhouse doors will be closed when the arena reaches capacity.
Kansas Athletics will use Wham City Lights, integrated into the official Kansas Athletics App, for "Late Night Lights" for added effect during the evening and Jayhawk fans will be able to participate in the activities should they bring a smart phone. By downloading the Kansas Athletics App - which is free and includes news, rosters, schedules, stats, periodic Jayhawk alerts and other helpful information - fans will assist in turning "Late Night Lights" into a hand-held light show.
With the construction of the DeBruce Center at the northeast corner of Allen Fieldhouse, workers have installed fencing that restricts access to some sidewalks adjacent to the Fieldhouse. The best way for students to access their entrance, therefore, is to approach that entrance from the west side of the parking garage.
With school in session Oct. 9, university parking lots will be restricted by permit until 5 p.m., with the exception of Lot 90 located across Naismith Drive from Allen Fieldhouse; that lot will be available for public parking at no charge starting at noon. Public parking will also be available in the parking garage just north of Allen Fieldhouse for Late Night in the Phog after 5 p.m.; cost will be $5 per vehicle.
As is the tradition at Late Night, fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which Kansas Athletics will donate to "Just Food" of Douglas County. Just Food will also be outside Allen Fieldhouse taking cash donations for those not able to bring a food item.
Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will oversee the television production of Late Night, which will be seen live on the Jayhawk TV Network, including ESPN3. Additionally, KLWN Radio in Lawrence will provide coverage of the festivities.
Big 12 / College News
Nov. 17, 7:30 ET, ESPN
John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski basically rule the college hoops universe these days. It's a rematch of the 2012 Champions Classic, which Duke won 75-68.
2. Kentucky at Kansas Jayhawks
Jan. 30, ESPN
You won't find a more hostile venue than Allen Fieldhouse. This one comes courtesy of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
6. Kansas at Iowa State Cyclones
Jan. 25, 9 ET, ESPN
The Jayhawks, winners of 11 straight Big 12 titles, won't have an easy task in Ames, Iowa, against Georges Niang & Co.
8. Kansas vs. Michigan State Spartans (Champions Classic)
Nov. 17, 10 ET, ESPN
Although it comes on the tail end of a doubleheader, this isn't a bad undercard at the fifth Champions Classic. Keith Appling and the Spartans topped the Jayhawks 67-64 at the Georgia Dome in 2012.
27. Oklahoma at Kansas
Jan. 4, 9 ET, ESPN
It may not rate quite as well as Iowa State-Kansas, but it's close. The Sooners are top-10 good.
29. Kansas at San Diego State Aztecs
Dec. 22, 11 ET, CBSSN
Viejas Arena is one of the toughest places to play these days, and the Aztecs have enough talent to knock off KU.
ESPN($) Ranking the top 40 games this season
Here's the thing about the 2015-16 season: It's wide open. Yes, it's an overused cliché. But so is the one about what to do with a shoe that fits.
Maybe, by April, Maryland or North Carolina or Kentucky will be wrapping up a title march so imperious as to retroactively hard wipe the current narrative. It's possible! It also doesn't seem likely. When there is a clear favorite (or favorites), we almost always know -- and agree on the specifics -- in advance. Not this fall. Some have the high-upside Terps as their preseason No. 1, but just as many rankers prefer the Heels or Cats. That uncertainty doesn't stop at the top. You could argue that any of the top 11 teams in this list will be the best in the country in 2015-16 and not be treated like a complete crazy person. Every team has strengths; every team has flaws. That wasn't the case last September. It almost never is.
Which means the following must also be true: Oklahoma's Dec. 7 matchup against Villanova offers every bit the potential Final Four preview as Maryland-North Carolina or Kentucky-Kansas. What both teams lack in mainstream sizzle they more than make up for with solid programs. Maybe Oklahoma, led by Buddy Hield, is really a top-three team. Maybe Villanova has another 33-win campaign ahead. Who knows? That's the thing about 2015-16. Wear it.
Marques Bolden, a 6-foot-10 senior basketball center from DeSoto (Texas) High, will not take his scheduled visit to Kansas University this weekend, ESPN.com reports.
Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi says that visit date actually was never finalized.
Instead, Bolden, who is ranked No. 16 in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, will attend the Oct. 9 Late Night in the Phog. Bolden has a final list of KU, Kentucky, Duke, Alabama, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU and Wake Forest.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2015-16)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube