By LARRY VAUGHT
During his recent summer press conference Kentucky coach John Calipari was asked what he thought about Hamidou Diallo’s first NBA season.
“He got injured, and here is what is tough about that league: It’s an unforgiving league. Fate intervenes and you get injured and the guy that stepped in for you starts playing out of his mind. Well, now you’ve got to wait your turn. That’s why I said you can’t make the club in the tub. Don’t get injured,” Calipari said.
“But, you get injured, it happens. I think he is going to be fine.”
That got Calipari started on how UK’s other NBA rookies did in their first professional season.
“I’m anxious to see Jarred Vanderbilt and what happens to him when he is healthy and able to play and do some stuff,” Calipari said. “Obviously, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the best rookies, and Kevin Knox is 19 now. He is probably the youngest rookie in the NBA, and I told the Knicks it is going to take him time, but when he breaks through, he is a 6-9 kid that can score, and they’re getting him to rebound, and drive the ball and all of this stuff that we started here that they’re getting done.
‘So, I think that whole core of guys – and Hami is one of my favorites simply because this stuff was really hard for him. He never wavered. We never wavered. I never wavered with him. I’m anxious, and I even said, ‘Wow injured were you?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I was injured but, you know.’
“But, the guy that started playing for him – I think his name was (Dennis) Schroder – started playing out of his mind. Like, he looked like Lou Williams from the Clippers. I’m saying, it’s how that league is. It’s an unforgiving league.”