Sunday, September 20, 2015


Column: Diallo’s potential impact: 1 seed

Kansas newcomer Cheick Diallo walks out to the field with his KU teammates as they are honored upon their arrival home after winning the gold medal while representing Team USA during the recent World University Games in South Korea.

Kansas newcomer Cheick Diallo walks out to the field with his KU teammates as they are honored upon their arrival home after winning the gold medal while representing Team USA during the recent World University Games in South Korea.


Late last month, Bill Self said he didn’t expect to hear anything conclusive from the NCAA Eligibility Center about prize recruit Cheick Diallo’s eligibility for the upcoming season until mid-September, “at the earliest.”

So it’s too early to panic, but not premature to wonder what Kansas University’s experienced basketball team might look like with and without the 6-foot-9, 220-pound freshman from Kayes, Mali, Africa.

Diallo used relentless effort to earn Most Outstanding Player honors in the McDonald’s All-American game and was his team’s MVP at the Jordan Brand Classic.

Clearly, he knows how to blend with other talented players. In his case, he plays off of his teammates in ways that make them better, instead of becoming the focal point and forcing teammates to sacrifice for him. That fits this Kansas roster well. The Jayhawks already have serious scoring threats at the point (junior Frank Mason) on the wing (junior Wayne Selden) and in the post (senior Perry Ellis).

Diallo won’t need teammates to feed him. He’ll get it himself when they miss shots. They won’t need to urge him to keep up with them in transition. Instead, they’ll remember to push themselves to keep up with him.

Self isn’t given to hyperbolic quotes about his recruits, which made it so powerful when he said, “He can create pace better than any point guard we’ve ever had here, just because the dude from rim to rim is as good as I’ve seen.”

Self is famous for having a deep pool of big men who can run the court, beat the enemy back on defense so that the guards don’t have to protect the post and can stay on the perimeter to prevent transition three-pointers. For him to say Diallo’s the fastest of the lot packs a mean punch.

With Diallo on the roster, Kansas can use a three-headed monster at center, with shot-blocker Hunter Mickelson and prolific rebounder Landen Lucas lending depth. Ellis and freshman Carlton Bragg, a potentially lethal scorer from mid and long range, have the 40 minutes at the four more than covered.

In the event Diallo is declared eligible, Kansas immediately becomes a favorite to land one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

If Diallo isn’t allowed to play, Kansas has the option of filling some of those minutes by playing Bragg and Ellis together, an outstanding scoring combination, but the roster doesn’t have quite the same intensity and looks more like a No. 2 seed.

– Tom Keegan can be seen on The Drive, Sunday nights on WIBW.


Doug Cramer 6 years, 11 months ago

The minutes that Mickelson has played have been solid. Too bad he doesn't have more eligibility.

It will be nice having a veteran roster this season.

Michael Johnson 6 years, 11 months ago

This is ridiculous. Keegan can tell the difference between a 1 & 2 seed in September? That's hard to do in March. Lol

Brett McCabe 6 years, 11 months ago

You are right. No one in the history of sports has ever actually tried to predict how teams will fare, or the impacts players will have until their respective seasons are almost over.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 11 months ago

The sarcasm is strong with this one :-)

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

It was hard to project Kentucky as a one last year, I guess? lol.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

This is fun let me try one, when the sun comes up then its a new day. Wait I can do better, if a great player can play for you, your team will be more successful.

Diallo is worth 5 wins to our team. He will be the best post player we have and help on both ends of the floor with his overall effort. With the shorter clock his rebounding will extend possessions. So yes, Diallos being able to play for our team is very important to how successful we will be this year. mercy...

Whats next, when the sun goes down you get sleepy?

Brett McCabe 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't get sleepy when the sun goes down.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 11 months ago

Doesn't your mom still make you take a nap after storytime?

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 11 months ago

I am pretty sure when the sun goes down, it gets dark though.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 11 months ago

With or without Diallo, we are going to have a great season and suspect the year will end in Houston. Self's comments about him certainly add intrigue and certainty this will be his lone year at Kansas, regardless of eligibility.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

The year will end in Houston. Whether we are playing there or not is dependant on Diallo being on the team.

Edward Daub 6 years, 11 months ago

The NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly the NCAA Clearinghouse) continues to drag their feet. What are they waiting for, the Spring Formal? Cheick Diallo deserves an answer well before the season starts , lets say by 10/1/15!

Robert Brock 6 years, 11 months ago

Diablo provides big-time defense in the paint. Without him, the Hawks would be just average in team defense.

John Fitzgerald 6 years, 11 months ago

The NCAA is a joke. They can approve him to play then 4 months later decide he's not approved and vacate our wins. Hopefully it's figured out and the guy can play. But needless to say, the NCAA needs to pull their heads out of their @$$es.

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

Well youre right about the approval process and retroactive vacation. The Derrick Rose situation at Memphis...

Brian Friess 6 years, 11 months ago

The NCAA IS a joke, John F.!! I so agree with you. I only hope more and more "power" is taken from the NCAA. I hope more institutions, coaches, players 'stand up' to their arrogance.

Andy Tweedy 6 years, 11 months ago

Generally, I don't understand why the NCAA takes so long to decide these kinds of things, but if you think about how many athletes are going through the "clearinghouse" it sure does seem like they would have their hands full. I've always wondered why they can't delegate some of this to each individual conference, even mabe put an NCAA person in the conference offices to do it. It would also be easy to say that cases like this should take presedence, but my daughter is currently going through the clearinghouse for a non-revenue generating sport, should her case go to the back of the line because only football and basketball cases should be treated as important? And if there wasn't a fair amount of due dilligence in these cases, we'd end up with basketball factories masked a prep schools (wait...we already have that)! I'm not saying I love the process, but I think it's way to easy to just label the NCAA as ridiculous, I think they have a pretty tall task here.

Joe Ross 6 years, 11 months ago

Can the NCAA be sued in federal court?

It doesn't seem right to me that a kid can do everything he's told by an academic institution and then have his eligibility revoked. Seems to me that the appropriate solution is to alert students ahead of time that there are problems with the institution, so they can make an informed decision about enrolling.

Diallo has done nothing wrong.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 11 months ago

Thats a good question. Now a days you can sue anyone over anything.

You would have to show cause though. I think it would be really hard to show harm with a case like this. The issue has to do with clearification of eligibilty, speed of response, nor process are not all within their(the NCAA's) control. Plus you are not going to be able to prove a monetary harm big enough to entice the right kind of lawyers you would need to win something like this.

Its not revoked, it is being questioned. Schools, conferences agree to all play under the NCAA guidelines, a player is free to chose wherever they want to play. If it is a NCAA school he falls under their preview. The question I have is what is this "school" doing or not doing that is causing repeated reviews of their process? This is not the first time it has happened there I beleive.

I am with you, their timing of responses is very slow, seems inconsistent, and as in the past has lacked completness of the report, but who else can anyone turn to?

Dirk Medema 6 years, 11 months ago

If the "academic institution" you're referring to is Diallo's HS, then it would be good to clarify that their stds for successfully completing their program is not the same as the NCAA's criteria for being eligible for D1 participation as a freshmen. It's been that way for 40 years; instituted back in the 70's. It was a big change back then.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 11 months ago

A suite against the NCAA is not practical because of its broad charter over multiple sports covering multiple divisions.

You know this has been a driver behind the formation of the breakaway threat of the large football schools. It's behind all the talk of the super conferences, i.e. power 4, 16 teams each. The new structure, which is a couple of years away will have its own governing body, lead by the 64 University Presidents. I can almost guarantee you academic discipline will be a driving force as well.

Weather this new Power 4 structure is part of the NCAA is very much up in the air.

Greg Lux 6 years, 11 months ago

My question is WHY is the NCAA involved at all? If an institution accepts a student as eligible for classes at it's institution then why is the NCAA able to say no? It's past time for the NCAA to got out of this issue. If a kid can use his GOD given ability to get an education then the NCAA should have no say in his right to play college sports. PERIOD...

John Randall 6 years, 10 months ago

All authority wielded by the NCAA is voluntarily granted by them by the terms of membership (similar to a contract). No school is required to join. The initial steps for elite and semi-elite schools to abdicate and form their own enforcement/policing organization is underway (not for the first time). So far, nothing significant has materialized, despite the threat of removing the source of the bulk of NCAA's operating budget –– TV rights for March Madness.

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