Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cheick Diallo ‘can’t wait’ to play for Jayhawks

But freshman wanted to suit up for Maui title game

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo sits on the end of the bench during the second half, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii. Diallo was cleared to play on Dec. 1.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo sits on the end of the bench during the second half, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 at Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii. Diallo was cleared to play on Dec. 1.


— Wearing a black, button-up KU shirt, khaki shorts and enormous blue-and-white adidas shoes, Kansas University freshman Cheick Diallo sat at the podium in the media room at the Maui Invitational with a look of relief splashed across his face.

Seated to the left of Kansas coach Bill Self, who, moments earlier, hoisted the Maui championship trophy for the first time in four tries, Diallo leaned forward ever-so-slightly and, with his arms folded, answered a dozen or so questions about the NCAA's decision to clear him for next week's game, news that came early Wednesday morning and marked the end of a long battle for eligibility.

“I was in my room and (my coach) called me to come to a meeting room,” Diallo began. “I knew something was going to happen. I was so excited.”

That “something” was Self explaining to Diallo that a wait that had lasted months and cost the university nearly $100,000 to fight for his clearance had come.

“I was so nervous and I was happy at the same time,” Diallo said. “Everybody was texting me, calling me, saying, 'We heard the great news.' Even right now, I'm not 100 percent nervous, but I'm so happy.”

The ruling by the NCAA to clear Diallo, but slap him with a five-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits, meant that Wednesday's 70-63 victory over No. 19 Vanderbilt in the Maui title game was the last time Diallo would have to dress in street clothes while his teammates prepared to play.

That fact was not lost on the 6-foot-9 forward from Mali, who will no longer just be the most decorated pre-game rebounder in the country.

“Even on the bench today, I was cheering for my team, I was supporting Kansas so hard,” he said. “I wanted them to win. It was a close game today, but I wanted to push my team, 'Let's go, let's go, let's go,' and give energy to my team.”

Diallo, who Wednesday night thanked everyone from KU fans to his high school coach to Kansas administrators and Self, said the past several weeks were stressful.

“It was very tough,” he said. “Sometimes I could not even sleep. I was always thinking about what I'm gonna do. I cannot say (enough about the people who helped me). Every time I called my high school coach or even Bill Self, people always said, 'Don't let it go, don't quit,' and sometimes I just wanted to let it go because it was getting hard. I didn't have anything to do if I didn't play this year. I really wanted to play this year.”

Although the Diallo saga is now headed toward a happy ending, the frustration of the past several months was not erased overnight.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Cheick Diallo speaks about being cleared by NCAA

Cheick Diallo speaks about being cleared by NCAA

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“I'm kind of mad right now,” Diallo said. “Because they suspended me for five games and I don't even know what I did. I should've played tonight's game.”

As for if he thinks he's ready for Tuesday's home game against Loyola (Maryland), the suddenly-smiley Diallo could not hide his excitement.

“I can't wait, man,” he said. “I'm ready. I can't wait.”

— See what people were saying about the Maui Invitational title game (and Cheick Diallo) during’s live coverage

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Vanderbilt

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, Vanderbilt 63

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, Vanderbilt 63


Adam Collins 6 years, 8 months ago

Good news to finally hear Diallo is free but he is not the only one with no idea why he was suspended 5 games. I know they dont have to provide explanations to the media or public, and I'm sure they let KU know what the problem was, but the fact that the actual student athlete is left out of the loop is disappointing. Maybe Diallo's lawyer will make it clear what he did. Bottom line is we got better today.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

$165 in impermissible benefits is official reason why he's suspended 5 games. The real reason is probably because they could.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 8 months ago

So can't we, Cheick. I feel sorry that this 'complicated' process (like the way Greg Anthony said it) will come to an end.- yes, folks, NCAA said the investigation is still ongoing. $$$ thrown for an absolutely ridiculous matter. Apparently, Cheick's nanny did his homework while he's out playing soccer!

Freedman Moor 6 years, 8 months ago


The name Diallo is pronounced "Jah-low". Just like Desagana Diop's name was pronounced "Jop" and not "dee-op". Its "Jah-low".


Diallo Liu-Bey

Humpy Helsel 6 years, 8 months ago

OK. This name thing has to be cleared up. I am big on names and having a name someone mispronounces all the time (my mother-in-law, sadly, is one of those), I think it is important we learn to pronounce his name correctly. I appreciate our announcers and commentators who work on learning Svi's name. I can't say it right, so I stick with Svi. I agree with Kurt here. Would someone on the LJW staff please ask Cheick the correct pronunciation of both of his names? Let's get everything off to a good start!

Mike Riches 6 years, 8 months ago

So happy for this young man and of course for Kansas basketball! I do think it's ridiculous that he got 5 games because someone probably bought him a cheeseburger. But it's totally fine for a university to spend $100K for him proving that he's eligible...

Buck Bukaty 6 years, 8 months ago

I’m Thankful that he is now on board! Unfortunately most fans won’t be able to see his first game via the Jayhawk Network. He was freed, now it’s time to free Jayhawk fans less fortunate who cannot attend games or see them on TV for the “lesser” games. KU needs to do away with their exclusivity deal with Time Warner/Comcast. It’s shameful that any taxpayer whose tax payments contribute to and support the university whether they like it or not cannot see some games while others can.

Take the City of Olathe, for example. It is one of five cities in the state with a six figure population, but Time Warner doesn’t provide services there. And if you’ve lived there long you’d likely be of the opinion that the service would have to be free before you’d do business with Comcast. Query such an Internet search and you’d find many references reporting that combined the two are perennial bottom dwellers in customer satisfaction. At this link is just one, but mild as far as criticism compared to other sites:

I pondered whether I should post my opinion, but I decided that the administration chose to challenge the NCAA for obvious wrong doings, so no reason one shouldn’t call-out KU for this TV issue. KU enjoys top dollar from the national broadcast deals. They don't need to squeeze every last dime from the locals. I’m just sayin’!!

Motor-on, Mr. Diallo, and have some real fun! RCJH!

David Robinett 6 years, 8 months ago

I presume that $100,000 was paid by KU Athletics, the independent corporation and not the University of Kansas with state funds obviously.

Bill Corrigan 6 years, 8 months ago

Now that the 6+ month ordeal is over for both Cheick Diallo and KU, the NCAA should adopt a “Fair Warning Policy (FWP)" for all top-100 recruited student-athletes applying for admission to NCAA Division I universities. This policy would immediately trigger a determination by the NCAA Eligibility Center regarding the student-athlete’s qualification to participate in intercollegiate athletics. Ideally, such an investigation would be completed and the results reported to the university(s) to which the student-athlete has applied before any Letter of Intent or Grant In Aid is issued to the applicant. As a result, any student-athlete who fails to meet the NCAA eligibility standard would be disclosed to school(s) considering admission of the recruited student-athlete. Feasible?

Darrel Stice 6 years, 8 months ago

Cheick, take out all those frustrations on Loyola. Can't wait to see you play!!


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