BOZICH | Monday Muse: How did Kentucky benefit if Diallo leaves? Chinanu Onuaku's playoff run
If Hamidou Diallo keeps his name in the NBA Draft, how did the University of Kentucky benefit from the time he spent on campus? Where's Chinanu Onuaku during NBA playoffs/
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Monday Muse is a place to discuss, learn, question, analyze, compare and fuss.
Ten items. Multiple sports. Easy to digest – or share. Primed for your enjoyment to start the news sports week. I make it a participation sport with the poll that headlines the top of the story. Your response is welcomed and appreciated.
Now, let’s Muse.
1. Hamidou Diallo: What’s in it for Kentucky?
Hamidou Diallo might be the next Devin Booker. Or he might be the next Doron Lamb.
If you know the answer, you’re a sharper talent evaluator than me because Diallo never launched a shot for John Calipari’s Kentucky team after joining the Wildcats in mid-season.
This could be his final UK career numbers – 0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 reports, even though Diallo benefited from free lodging, free dining, free academics, free publicity and, most of all, free coaching.
Understand that Diallo is not officially a None and Done. The announcement from UK Sunday said Diallo will not hire an agent while he works though the decision on remaining in the 2017 NBA Draft. Diallo could be one of Calipari’s starting guards next season, the Wildcats’ best player.
Like any underclassmen, Diallo is doing the right thing by drawing as much feedback as possible before the May 24 deadline to withdraw or remain in the draft. Take it to the limit. That’s the smart choice.
But he could also be gone because Diallo is ranked as a first-rounder in several draft forecasts.
That stirs two questions:
Why didn’t Calipari play Diallo last season?
What did Kentucky get from the relationship if Diallo cycles into The Association without playing a minute?
Answer A.) Only Calipari knows. De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk were so productive there was no reason to cut their minutes. Isaiah Briscoe was often one of Kentucky’s best defenders. He also needed to play.
But if Diallo was as talented as the draft experts believe, I wonder why he didn’t get any of the 25 minutes Mychal Mulder earned while contributing one field goal while taking eight shots in UK’s four NCAA Tournament games.
Answer B.) Marketing. Remember Calipari sells his program to recruits as Players First, not Program First.
Sorry, Dan Issel, but the NBA Draft night is a bigger deal to him than Championship Monday.
He wants that message to resonate with the best players in the nation. Welcoming a kid to use the UK program as a training facility for the NBA Draft certainly does that, even if this fly-by development scenario is tilted 99 percent toward basketball and 1 percent toward college.
2. Chinanu Onuaku Sighting
The Houston Rockets are racing toward the Western Conference semifinals of the NBA playoffs, leading Oklahoma City three games to one after a road victory Sunday.
Former University of Louisville star Montrezl Harrell is parked on the Rockets’ bench, playing four minutes in four playoff games. Former Indiana forward Troy Williams has a nearby seat. Williams is another four-minute man.
But where is Chinanu Onuaku, the former U of L center who was selected in the second round by the Rockets in the 2016 NBA Draft?
Grinding through the playoffs – the NBA Developmental League playoffs. He seems ecstatic.
Onuaku started at center for the Rio Grande Vipers during their 119-106 win over the Raptors905 in the D-League Finals. Foul trouble limited Onuaku to 15 minutes. He scored eight points with 10 boards and two blocks.
The Vipers were led by a name you’ll know: Former UK backup Kyle Wiltjer made three shots from distance while scoring 18 points.
3. Why Arizona for Shaq's Son?
Only a week ago I noted that Shaquille O’Neal was on board if his son, Shareef, chose to spurn Louisiana State, Shaq’s alma mater, to play college basketball for Calipari at Kentucky.
O’Neal made his decision. He did not chose LSU. He did not wait for an offer from Kentucky, which typically does not move hard after prospects until at least mid-summer. He chose Arizona.
This is how O’Neal explained it, according to CBSSports.com:
"I love the school, the staff treats me like family," he said. "I went on a visit with my dad and I loved it once I got there. It's beautiful. The program was awesome. The good thing is that the bigs get to play like guards and I feel like that's a big part of my game, so I feel like I fit in really well."
4. Media Matters -- In Indiana
Some media members decline to vote for post-season awards. They argue their responsibility is to report the news, not make it. By voting for MVPs, coaching awards and Hall of Fame selections, the risk is crossing the line into newsmaker.
I respect that stance, although I vote for the AP college basketball all-America team, the Heisman Trophy, the Wooden Award, the Oscar Robertson Award and other honors.
A line is being crossed in the NBA. Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com in Indianapolis explained in this column.
Here is the simplest explanation: If media members vote Pacers’ forward Paul George to the all-NBA team, NBA salary guidelines will allow Indiana to pay George $78 million more than other franchises as he moves into his free-agent summer.
If George is not voted all-NBA, the gap will be considerably less – five seasons at $35 million for Indiana, four seasons at $33 for everybody else.
So the Pacers need the vote to roll in. Media members can keep help keep Indiana’s best player in Indiana.
5. Spring Football Attendance Rankings
Most of the heavy hitters have finished spring football. That means it is time to call the roll of which programs truly are football obsessed.
To crack the Top 10, a program had to attract more than 43,000 fans. Here are the winners, broken down by conference: Big Ten 4, SEC 4, ACC 1 and Big 12 1.
Ohio State – 80,134
Alabama -- 74,326
Penn State – 71,000
Georgia – 66,183
Clemson – 60,000
Michigan – 57,418
Florida – 48,000
Auburn – 46,331
Oklahoma – 43,723
Biggest surprises: On the plus side, Nebraska, which hasn’t been Nebraska for nearly two decades.
On the minus side, Notre Dame. The Irish reported a gathering of 20,147, confirmation that Notre Dame has not been Notre Dame for nearly two decades.
6. Louisville vs. Kentucky RPI Update
Last week was a monster week for the Kentucky baseball program. The Wildcats turned a dazzling triple play while defeating Louisville at Cliff Hagan Stadium – and then followed their success by taking two of three from Louisiana State.
The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) noticed. By Monday morning, Kentucky moved ahead of Louisville in the latest computer rankings. Make it Kentucky fifth with the Cardinals sixth, an exact reversal of where the teams were ranked Friday morning.
At least one major human poll continued to give the Cardinals a considerable edge. Baseball America rated Louisville second, one spot behind Oregon State. Kentucky advanced four spots to 10th at BA.
7. Trolling the Cubs
Did you notice the crowds for the weekend Cubs-Reds series at Great American Ball Park?
More than 27,000 on Friday and Saturday, followed by 32,670 on Sunday for the Reds’ only victory. Credit Cubs’ fans with filling at least a third of the seats.
Credit Reds’ management with graciously accepting their money – and then having a good time with it. They created Bandwagon Cam, gently trolling Cubs’ fans that got on board after the Wrigleys stopped losing 95 games per year.
8. The Amir Garrett Reds' Report
Amir Garrett did not pitch like a guy ready to become the ace of the Reds’ pitching staff when Garrett appeared in a dozen games for the Louisville Bats last summer.
But that’s what he has been over the first three weeks of the season, an ace. After going 2-5 in Louisville in 2016, Garrett has won two of his first three decisions for the Reds. He is scheduled to pitch at Milwaukee Monday night.
It’s early. It can’t be said too many times. It’s early. But Tyler Kepner, the national baseball writer for the New York Times, did a splendid job of telling Garrett’s story in this piece.
9. Baseball's Most Dangerous Unwritten Rule
Professional baseball players tell you they police themselves. Umpires make the critical decisions but when the issue is playing the game the right way, the players deal with showboating, pitching inside, high slides, stealing bases with jumbo leads and other inside baseball disagreements.
Sometimes they get carried away.
Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes needs an Unwritten Rules refresher course. Two days after Orioles infielder Manny Machado injured Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia on a late slide, Barnes chose to send a message with a fastball that sailed behind Machado’s head.
The Orioles weren’t happy.
Guess what? Pedroia wasn’t happy either, telling Machado that the high and tight pitch was not his idea.
Pedroia gets it. If you’re going to throw at somebody, you throw at his thighs or buttocks. And you do it in his next at bat, not two days later.
10. Poll Results
Do you agree with the University of Louisville's decision not to allow television stations to shoot video at the spring football game?
Yes – 47 percent
No – 53 percent.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.