Kansas coach Bill Self says better days are ahead for freshman forward Cheick Diallo.
“I think Cheick is coming. I think he’s coming,” Self said during his news conference Thursday. “I still believe what I said before: He’s going to be a terrific player. He’s still raw, but he’s improved so much just in the last month.”
Diallo, who was Rivals’ fifth-ranked player in the class of 2015, has struggled to get consistent playing time at the 5 position behind starter Landen Lucas and reserve Jamari Traylor. He’s played seven minutes in each of KU’s last two games, though he was particularly active against Oklahoma State, with five rebounds, three blocks and two turnovers with two missed field goals.
“He’s been scoring the ball so much better in practice, and that hasn’t translated to the game yet, but that will eventually,” Self said. “But he’s doing fine.”
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Self’s frontcourt playing time has been a conversation topic all season, as Diallo and teammate Carlton Bragg have seen their minutes lag behind other top recruits. Bragg, who was ranked 21st by Rivals, is averaging 9.6 minutes per game, while Diallo is at 8.5.
While Self was hopeful that his talented freshmen would be able to earn more minutes, he says that Lucas has given KU its best chance to win. The coach also cited examples in KU’s past of first-year big men like Cole Aldrich and Jeff Withey sitting early before getting their chance to emerge.
“I’m real proud of Cheick and Carlton’s attitude, and I will tell you this: Those two will get the last laugh,” Self said. “But they’re just going to have to be patient right now.”