Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
This is Part 6 of a sixteen-part series called, “This Is New York,” as we chronicling Hamidou Diallo, who is entering his second season in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as he put on two great events for the community with his first-ever basketball camp and the second-annual, “Hami Day” event.
Article on Hamidou Diallo
By David Cordova
Throughout the last couple of years, Hamidou Diallo has been representing New York City well, as he’s been out of town. The Lefrak City, Queens native first started playing high school basketball at John Bowne High School before going out to national prep powerhouse Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut and making a name for himself on the national level as one of the best high school prospects.
After a couple of years at Putnam Science, he went on the University of Kentucky, where he averaged 10 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in his lone season with the Wildcats. He was then selected as the 45thpick (second round) of the 2018 NBA Draft by the Brooklyn Nets, but was then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Things have been going well for Diallo in the League as he learned from the best in NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook as a rookie. And although he averaged 3.7 points in 51 games this season, this season wasn’t all bad for him, as he had his signature moment during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina as he walked away victorious as the winner of the Slam Dunk Contest.
Even though he has made his dreams of being a pro a reality, Diallo still comes back to the city and is very omnipresent at basketball tournaments such as Dyckman in the Inwood section of Manhattan and the Lincoln Park Classic in South Ozone Park, where his team, OTN, plays in the high school division in both tournaments.
But during the weekend of July 26th-28th, Diallo put together two major events for the community, his first-ever basketball camp and the second annual, “Hami Day.”
“I mean, it’s good. It’s good to come out here, showcase my talent and do this good event for kids,” said Diallo. “You know, that was once me sitting in those seats, so to have this opportunity is a blessing.”
On Friday, July 26th, Diallo hosted his first annual basketball camp at the legendary Lost Battalion Hall in Rego Park, a community center largely known as the place where Aim High, one of New York City’s finest basketball programs, trained the likes of players such as former NBA players Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Kenny Anderson and former UConn guard Taliek Brown.
At the camp, the kids were given basketball instructions from coaches and were also treated to signed autographs of Diallo and also got the opportunity to take pictures with him. There were also guest lectures from two of Diallo’s former Kentucky teammates, Wenyen Gabriel (Sacramento Kings) and Jarred Vanderbilt (Denver Nuggets).
The following day, Saturday, July 27th, Diallo had his second annual, “Hami Day,” at Hoffman Park in Elmhurst, which had a hardwood court built on a city playground and played host to more than 1,500 people as there were basketball games played throughout the day for all ages.
When asked how he felt about giving back to his community, he replied, “It’s good, it’s a great accomplishment and it’s something that I’m proud of myself for doing.”
Although Diallo’s birthday is on July 31st, he even had a cake presented to him for his 21stbirthday at the event. And also, Gabriel and Vanderbilt were back once again, along with other pros such as fellow Queens native Kyle O’Quinn (Philadelphia 76ers), Rawle Alkins (formerly of the Chicago Bulls), Harry Giles III (Sacramento Kings) and Tyler Harris (plays overseas).
And as for those wondering what to expect from him in his second season with the Thunder, he replied, “Just a lot of hard work, playing hard, being consistent and just learning.”
All in all, it was a very fitting weekend for the slam dunk champion, as the borough of Queens showered hm with plenty of love and support. Everything that happened this year with both events will make it bigger for Year 3. One thing that can be said about Hamidou Diallo is that he is a man of the people.
Check out Part 7 on Thursday, August 15th, as we will chronicle three-time NBA All-Star and the recent addition to the Boston Celtics, Kemba Walker as he comes back to New York to lend his support to the Kevin Shaw Jr. Foundation at their “Anti-Gun Violence” event in memory of his high school teammate, Kevin Shaw.