This year’s recruiting class has been very interesting to watch. Players are finalizing their decisions, committing and signing with schools and looking ahead to their college careers.
One player has stood out though: Mohamed Bamba.
He is the No. 3 prospect in the nation, and he recently chose Texas over Kentucky, Duke and Michigan. The Longhorns’ 2017 class is ranked fifth in the nation according to ESPN’s most recent rankings.
Why he chose texas
If there was one word to describe the Harlem native, it would be unconventional. Bamba is a high-profile recruit who could turn the college scene upside down next year. The 7-footer could be a big contributor to Texas’ high strung press. If he can use his length on defense around the rim, he’ll be hard to stop.
The Longhorns were 4-14 in conference play last season and 11-22 overall. They don’t have the best track record in the postseason either. They didn’t make it to the tournament this past season, and they lost to Northern Iowa in the first round of the 2016 tournament. In 2015, they lost to Butler in the second round.
Needless to say, they have a lot of room for improvement. Texas also has a very competitive conference with West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas. However, why would one of the top prospects choose a team that did so poorly over some of the top teams in the nation?
That’s just who he is. He does things people wouldn’t expect. He’ll be in the spotlight a lot more than he would be at Kentucky or Duke. He would stand out regardless of the school he chose, but he’ll really stand out at Texas. Some people are predicting him to be a top-five draft pick for 2018, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
What sets him apart
Mohamed Bamba is distinct for many reasons. The 7-footer has a wingspan of 7-foot-9 and a standing reach of 9-foot-6, which is incredible. As a senior he averaged 14 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks per game at Westtown High School. He also brought home two state titles for the school his junior and senior years, the first state titles the school has ever had, in any sport.
“It’s his arms, man … his arms,” said Ayton, who’s taking his No. 1 ranking to Arizona next year. “He will contest every shot. And trust me, he’s going to block you. When I say he dominates the defensive end, it’s crazy. Like, for me to not even go in the post and be out shooting jumpers? It’s like — that’s what coaches want. He takes you out of your game. He’s dominant.”
-DeAndre Ayton, University of Arizona commit
Bamba will be dominant because he takes players out of their comfort zone. He forces them to shoot shots they wouldn’t normally take. He’s also agile, lengthy, athletic as all get out and quick. No doubt he will be a strong force in the conference, and for the Longhorns in general.
other freshman talent
Mohamed Bamba will be joined by signees Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Royce Hamm and Jase Febres. Like mentioned before, they are the fifth-ranked class in the nation.
The Longhorns have been out of the spotlight for the past couple years, but this class could be the one to put them back into college basketball conversation.
Coleman especially will have a big impact at the point guard position. That’s been part of the problem for the Longhorns. They haven’t had leadership from the point guard. Coleman should be able to change that.
The freshmen will also have some upperclassmen talent to round out the team. Andrew Jones will be back for his sophomore season. Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. will also be returning as guards. Most importantly, the team has Mohamed Bamba. Trust me, you’ll be hearing his name a lot this year.
Featured image by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
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