Kansas freshman forward/center Cheick Diallo will declare for this year’s NBA draft but hold off on hiring an agent, a source told Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). He’ll be able to withdraw until May 25th as long as he doesn’t have an agent. The 6’9″ Diallo was a lottery prospect at the beginning of the season but is an early second-round candidate at this point, coming in 36th in Chad Ford’s ESPN Insider rankings and 39th with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. Still, some NBA executives believe he has a shot to go in the first-round, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.
Diallo didn’t play until December thanks to an eligibility battle with the NCAA, and his minutes were sparing once he did suit up. He posted 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in just 7.5 minutes per game across 27 appearances, never topping the 13 points he scored in his debut against Loyola of Maryland. The 19-year-old played in only one of the Jayhawks’ four NCAA Tournament games, though he was productive in the seven minutes he saw against Austin Peay in the first round, scoring nine points on 4 of 5 shooting.
The native of Mali intrigues with his length, athleticism, defense and rebounding, but his offensive game needs work, as Ford writes in his profile. NBA teams will no doubt relish the chance to work up close with him during predraft workouts and the combine, given the lack of exposure he got at Kansas. Diallo is not entirely an unknown, however. He was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game last year and was sixth in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. He attended high school in New York.