Bill Self has landed yet another five-star big man, as Cheick Diallo announced on Tuesday afternoon that he will be playing his college ball for the Kansas Jayhawks.
He picked KU over Kentucky, Iowa State and St. John’s, among others. He won MVP in both the McDonald’s All-American game at the Jordan Brand Classic, the two most prestigious high school all-star games.
Diallo, an athletic, 6-foot-9 power forward, is the No. 5 player in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He’ll join freshman Carlton Bragg and seniors Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas on Bill Self’s front line.
This is not the first time that Self has loaded up on big men that find themselves at the top of the top 100 rankings, although the previous two years it hasn’t worked out all that well for Kansas. Joel Embiid was putting together an all-american caliber season when back trouble ended his season prematurely; he has yet to play this season after being the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft. Cliff Alexander was never really able to find a rhythm for the Jayhawks before he had his season ended by an NCAA investigation into his eligibility. He since declared for the draft, although he’s expected to be a second round pick.
Kansas did not advance past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament either season.
Diallo is not as talented as Embiid, but there’s little doubt that he’ll have a much bigger impact at the college level than Alexander. The native of Mali has as good of a motor as anyone I’ve seen at the high school level. He runs the floor in transition hard, he attacks the glass and he seemingly never gets tired doing so. He’s not overly skilled and I doubt that he’ll ever end up being much of a back-to-the-basket threat, but with Ellis and Bragg already in the program, Kansas doesn’t need a guy that is going to command a double-team.
They need someone that will make those double-teams pay when they miss a box out. They need someone that is going to beat slower big men down the floor and that will provide a presence on the defensive end.
Diallo can do that.