Five-star prospect Cheick Diallo commits to Kansas

Carmelo Anthony won't be in Kansas next season, but Cheick Diallo will be. (USATSI)
Carmelo Anthony won’t be in Kansas next season, but Cheick Diallo will be. (USATSI)

Five-star center prospect Cheick Diallo has committed to Kansas, according to multiple reports.

Diallo — originally from Mali — played his high school ball at Our Savior New American School in New York. He will fill the Jayhawks’ need in the middle following the departure of Cliff Alexander to the NBA Draft. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound big man is the No. 6 overall prospect in the country, according to 247Sports.com. He’s come on strong during the all-star circuit, winning MVP at both the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic.

Diallo spoke with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi regarding his decision:

“I felt like Kansas was the best place for me,” said Diallo, a 6-foot-9 power forward. “I can earn playing time right away. I played against Joel Embiid in high school and watched his development. I need to work on a lot of things and feel coach [Bill] Self can help my game. On my visit, the campus was great and the people were nice. I could see myself there.”

I got the chance to see Diallo up close for a week when he played for the World Team at Nike Hoop Summit. Here is what I came away thinking about the big man, who scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots in the World Team’s win in the game.

Diallo continued to out-motor everyone all over the floor on Saturday like he’d done all week in practice. He runs the floor as well as any big man I’ve ever seen at 18-years-old, both athletically and in how hard he actually moves. The skill level is still low — he doesn’t handle the ball well in the halfcourt and can’t shoot — but imagine him as something of a rich man’s Jameel McKay at Iowa State. If he goes to the right uptempo system, he could really be great next season in college. Plus, you know the defense is always going to be there due to that energy and his 7-foot-4 wingspan. To me, he looks like a solid first-round pick eventually that will make a coach very happy.

Kansas coach Bill Self is absolutely going to love Diallo, as he’ll never have to worry about coaxing effort out of him. He’ll work well in transition with speedy jitterbug guard Frank Mason, and provide length inside defensively. Generally, the fit in the frontcourt with returning senior Perry Ellis should be perfect, as Diallo will provide offensive rebounding on the weakside and general athleticism that Ellis doesn’t provide offensively, while Ellis stretches the floor and provides the high skill level that Diallo cannot. The Jayhawks also have another incoming five-star forward in Carlton Bragg, who should come off the bench to provide a combination of size, athleticism and skill.

This moves the Jayhawks’ recruiting class up to No. 18 overall nationally (according to 247Sports) with Bragg and Diallo as their only two incoming players. They’re also in the final five schools for No. 3 overall prospect Jaylen Brown, who should be making his college decision soon (although no one really knows where he’ll end up, as he’s played things pretty close to the vest).

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