Mohamed Bamba had an impressive list of suitors: Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas. Ultimately, he chose the Longhorns on Thursday.
The 5-star prospect is the No. 2 recruit in the country on the 247Sports composite, which also ranks him as the top power forward and the No. 1 recruit in New York for the Class of 2017. He dominated at the McDonald’s All-American Game in late March, scoring 17 points (tied for most in the game) on 7-for-10 shooting.
Mo Bamba, 4 things to know
He’s giant, but he’s skinny
His length is the first thing you’ll notice about him. But the 7-foot Bamba will still need to fill out his 216-pound frame. For perspective, that’s about how much Russell Westbrook — who’s 9 inches shorter — weighs. That’s tantalizing for college and NBA coaches, and it’s one of the reasons Bamba is already a top prospect for the 2018 NBA Draft.
And the thing that makes his height so exciting is the athleticism that goes along with it. Bamba’s an excellent leaper, and he should be an incredible shot blocker as a freshman. He’ll be far from a finished product until he fills out a little more, but that’s OK. In college, he’ll still be able to dominate defensively.
“A lot of people look at me and say I’m too skinny and that they can push me around, but I think not,” Bamba told Nick Medline of ZagsBlog.com in March. “I may not always be shooting the ball well, but I can make sure my defense is always on point.”
His wingspan is just insane
Bamba’s arms stretch to 7-9, a preposterous number even for someone his size. That would put him among the all-time marks at the NBA draft combine. That helps on defense.
Goodness, Mohamed Bamba meets Michael Porter at the rim and snatches the ball with one hand. pic.twitter.com/KXhWoOjXPY
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 29, 2017
If Bamba’s doing this to Michael Porter — the top-ranked recruit in the 2018 class — imagine what he’ll do to players who aren’t on that level?
Kentucky was the favorite for him
Kentucky led his 247Sports crystal ball predictions, but less than half of those predictions are from 2017. Among those that were made this year, Texas held five — a surprisingly high number.
That’s a change in the tide from the fall, when Duke and Kentucky seemed to be the odds-on favorites.
“I just feel like it’s a weird one and I think we know less than we think we know,” Jerry Meyer, 247Sports director of basketball scouting, told SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker in mid-April. “I would not be surprised at all if, say, he went to Texas.”
“We make predictions on guys, but there’s levels of confidence that differ on each pick,” Meyer continued. “Some players are easier to read and maybe their thought process is more transparent and perhaps more conventional. With Bamba, probably more opaque and less conventional.”
He could have followed one of his 5-star friends
Bamba has a fairly close relationship with Kevin Knox, a 5-star SF who committed to Kentucky on Saturday.
“Kevin and Bamba talk five of seven days a week. So who knows?” Knox’s father told Tucker earlier this month. “I just know Bamba really likes Kevin; Kevin likes Bamba. I think it would be really great for them to play together. So we just gotta see how that conversation goes over the next couple of weeks.”