Saturday, November 14, 2015

Notebook: Diallo sits out opener

Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo, center, laughs with Dwight Coleby as they watch warmups prior to tipoff, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo, center, laughs with Dwight Coleby as they watch warmups prior to tipoff, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Cheick Diallo sat on Kansas University’s basketball bench, decked in a white warmup top and blue sweat pants rather than his official Jayhawk jersey and shorts Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

The 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Mali was forced to the sidelines for what would have been his collegiate opener against Northern Colorado, because of the fact he has yet to be declared eligible for participation in games by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

“You have to put this in perspective. You’ve got a young person who spent a good portion of his life working toward this day, and for reasons beyond his control, he is being deprived of this day,” said Don Jackson, attorney for Diallo’s mentor, Tidiane Drame.

Jackson is fighting for Diallo’s eligibility in this matter with the NCAA.

“This is profoundly unfair, and I tell you I am disappointed for him and for Tidiane and for this young man’s whole family. He worked incredibly hard to get to this day, has done everything he could to get to this point and cannot play. It is a very disappointing situation for my client and sure it is very difficult for Cheick as well,” Jackson added in an interview with the Journal-World late Friday afternoon.

The day started on a promising note when the NCAA declared Central Florida freshman center Tacko Fall eligible for participation on Opening Night of the 2015-16 season. Alas, nothing changed in Diallo’s eligibility case.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on KU's hot offensive start to 2015-16 season

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self answers questions from the media following KU's season-opening, 109-72 victory over Northern Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse.

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“Being involved in these cases, I’ve said for years I give the administrative process every opportunity to work,” Jackson said, asked if he planned to file a lawsuit against the NCAA anytime soon.

“I’ve seen players who have gone through this (missing games), and it has impacted their careers. Mike Williams at Texas, a McDonald’s All-American player, missed the first six, seven, eight games of the season. He never really got into the flow, never got into the mix at Texas and wound up transferring to Cincinnati. He had a good career, he didn’t have the career he could have (had).

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Greene, Graham and Ellis react to KU's 109-point night

Kansas basketball players Brannen Greene, Devonté Graham and Perry Ellis describe the enjoyment the Jayhawks had in scoring 109 points in their season opener against Northern Colorado.

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“This game (against Northern Colorado) is important to his (Diallo) development, his career. It’s his first collegiate game, and he is sitting in street clothes watching his first game. That has an emotional impact on an athlete,” Jackson added.

With the NCAA work week over, Jackson will continue the battle next week, he said.

“Three of my favorite words in the English vocabulary are, ‘Cleared to play,’” Jackson said. “Hopefully we’ll hear those words in a short period of time.”

More on Diallo: Asked if there was hope today that Diallo might be declared eligible, KU coach BIll Self said: “I would say maybe a little bit. At the rate that it’s moving we didn’t think there was really a chance.” ... KU’s students chanted “Free Diallo” in the second half. Also, students in the north end zone had FREE DIALLO painted on their chests.

Book signing coming next week: Local author/former Journal-World reporter Steve Buckner will be signing his book, “Game of My Life,” from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Nov. 21 at the Kansas Union Bookstore. The signing will precede the KU-West Virginia football game. It’s a book about former KU players discussing the best games of their KU careers.

This, that: KU is 2-0 vs. Northern Colorado and 16-0 vs. teams in the Big Sky. ... KU has won 25 in a row in Allen, which ties for the ninth-longest home court winning streak in school history. ... KU has won 43 straight home openers in Allen. ... KU is 191-9 in Allen under Self. ... KU hit 15 three-pointers, which marks the most by a KU squad since the Jayhawks hit 15 against American on Dec. 29, 2012. ... KU had 27 assists, its most in a game since it posted 29 against West Virginia on Feb. 6, 2013.

— See what people were saying about the game during’s live coverage.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Northern Colorado

By the Numbers: Kansas 109, Northern Colorado 72

By the Numbers: Kansas 109, Northern Colorado 72


Darrel Stice 7 years ago

Someone posted on another article on this site saying how sad it is that with the NCAA he's guilty until proven innocent. While I know that's not exactly the case and we can't risk having to forfeit game, etc., it definitely feels that way. How frustrating for this young man and for everyone invested in KU hoops. Hope this comes to a quick resolution!

Armen Kurdian 7 years ago

File an emergency court order to declare him eligible until the NCAA says otherwise. So long as all the information has been provided, the NCAA has declared every other freshman eligible. They cannot be allowed to hold this over his head because they can't make a decision in his favor.

Joe Ross 7 years ago

"The villains are the schools who have allowed, supported, and funded an organization [the NCAA] that long ago lost much of its credibility to continue serving a function for which it is fundamentally unqualified."

--"The Simple Fix for Cheick Diallo’s Case...", Sam Mellinger, KC STAR

Jay Bilas has been very vocal regarding the Cheick Diallo case, as has Dick Vitale and others. Bilas, who is an attorney, has stated recently, "The real question is why an organization that functions as the governing body for the highest level of collegiate athletics is in the business of determining initial athletic eligibility in the first place. (It) should be about administering and governing athletic competition, not anything else, and this is totally out of its lane.”

But even while consensus is gathering that the NCAA is acting outside of its authority--even investigating grades going back to middle school for Diallo when a "prospective student-athlete" is not considered so until the 9th grade--Jackson noted recently in a radio interview with 610 sports that there is little appetite among colleges to change the status quo.

On how we got here, Jackson notes, "The reality is, the membership afforded the NCAA the authority to do this. They afforded them the authority to create these initial eligibility standards."

Mellinger is correct in saying that the fault primarily lies with the Universities who have granted the NCAA the authority to wreak this kind of havoc in the lives of the students whose mission it is to serve. But there is a way to rescind that authority, and Kansas could be instrumental.

Play Diallo anyway, directly challenging the NCAA.

If the NCAA declares Diallo ineligible we will vacate wins and, of course, Diallo will be benched. The college basketball world would react, citing Kansas' courage in standing up to the NCAA, acrimony over Diallo's benching, and finally the first domino would fall as public discussion would ensue with respect to the nature of the NCAA's carte-blanche authority (the first step in reversing it). If, on the other hand, the NCAA does nothing, it also hurts itself. It would invite other schools to challenge the NCAA as well, and gathering that kind of momentum would be very useful in creating action among an otherwise non-vocal group of NCAA college institutions.

RJ King 7 years ago

But since the other cases have all been cleared, there are no other schools that are still hurt by this for the 2015-16 season. Other schools are fine for now and have moved on to their seasons. The NCAA is "out of sight, out of mind" until next year. I don't know if we can assume the college basketball world reacting with applause for Kansas' courage. From the media - yes. From other schools? Isn't there enough envy out there to keep that from happening? Besides, many KU fans on this site have made comments to the affect of, "Self should not have recruited him in the first place." Other schools would have even less understanding or sympathy for the situation.

Harlan Hobbs 7 years ago

Absolutely brilliant, Joe. Nothing more needs to be said.

Mike Riches 7 years ago

Obviously Diallo has some great skills, but I've been pleased with Bragg's play for the most part. Sure he needs some development, but he'll get more opportunities with Diallo out. Of course I'd love to have both, but there is a small silver lining to Diallo sitting.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

This player from out of the USA speaking multiple langagues does not necessarily indicate above avergage intelligence. It is not unusual for those born and raised abroad to speak multiple languages for it is their home environment aka everyday life being surrounded by multiple languages from day one. Speaking USA english may be the most challenging to learn in which most of us know somone that teaches USA english as a second language when in fact it may well be the 6th or 7th language.

On the other hand.

--- That said what is Cheick Diallo’s ultimate goal? Professional basketball perhaps? Among other questions raised one that I have yet to read is why doesn't professional basketball sponsor their own training camps instead of the university community bearing the load?

There will still be fine basketball players available to college sports however these athletes are making it a point to obtain a degree for whatever reasons. What's wrong with that?

--- It seems there too much focus on universities being NCAA champions,Big 12 Champions or whatever tournament champion? What is the true reason for college level scholarships? NCAA championships? Big salary packages for the coach? or academic achievement?

--- Will Cheick Diallo be around on campus 4 years and graduate cum laude or will Cheick Diallo be around for two years then off to profesional sports thus burning off a scholarship that perhaps another fine player could have been awarded that intended to graduate from college.

--- Where is the pro team that should be more than interested enough in Cheick Diallo to step up and welcome him to their professional training camp? Seems this would quite a smart choice for any team paying attention.

--- Then again ....

Perhaps the NCAA is doing what it was set up to do in the first place. What's wrong with that? Of course the Jayhawks want Cheick Diallo for awhile anyway till he puts himself up for the draft.

--- A little food for thought...

Joe Ross 7 years ago

Being on campus for four years is not necessary, because players of his caliber (or close) can potentially be added in subsequent years, especially at a University where big men have been solid in the post. This is not to besmirch the role of multiyear players; but only to point out that there is little detriment in having phenomenal talents come and go on an annual basis. For one, they make up a minority of the team and because of that the chemistry is not significantly disrupted (if at all). Secondly, as above, OADs are interchangeable from year to year...

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