Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Mohamed Bamba, the 6-foot-11 big man from the Westtown (PA) School, is planning visits to Duke and Kentucky in the coming weeks, but has yet to set any dates.
So far, Bamba has only taken one official, to Texas the weekend of Oct. 29, in addition to going to Harvard on several occasions.
As for Duke, the Blue Devils would love to add him in the spring, when they will lose Amile Jefferson to graduation and possibly freshmen Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden to the NBA Draft.
“Brotherhood,” he told Scout.com of Duke’s recruiting pitch after putting up six points, five rebounds and three blocks as Westtown defeated 7-foot-1 DeAndre Ayton and Hillcrest Academy (AZ), 53-42, in the semifinals of the Signature Series of the City of Palms Classic.
“You can see it too. They go out there and get after it. Those guys are like a true brotherhood.”
Duke currently has a three-man class consisting of guards Gary Trent Jr. and Alex O’Connell and big man Wendell Carter Jr.
“I’ve been talking to coach [Jeff] Capel, we’ve been talking a lot,” he added to Scout. “We’ve talked about how he sees me as a player at Duke and we talked about how I fit in at Duke. One thing that we talked about a lot, which might be surprising, would be the Ben Simmons documentary. I haven’t talked to him on the phone about it, but it was a great text convo.”
Meantime, Kentucky has a four-man class but is focusing hard on both Bamba and Putnam Science Academy (CT) shooting guard Hamidou Diallo. The two will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at City of Palms when Westtown faces Putnam Science for the Signature Series title.
Quade Green, Bamba’s AAU teammate with the PSA Cardinals, is also at City of Palms and is recruiting several people, including Bamba, Diallo and Tampa (FL) Catholic wing Kevin Knox, to Kentucky.
“You saw him on the sidelines wearing that hat,” Bamba told Scout of Green. “He’s been pretty relentless with it, but who knows.
“It’s been mainly the same pitch as the summer,” he added about Kentucky. “Positionless [basketball] and their track record right now. What are the three bigs in the NBA when you think Kentucky? Anthony Davis, KAT [Karl-Anthony Towns] and you think DeMarcus Cousins. Their track record is unbelievable.”
Don’t count out Texas, either.
Bamba has built a strong relationship with head coach Shaka Smart, who was courtside on Sunday to watch Bamba face off against Ayton. He visited Texas the same weekend as Oak Hill point guard Matt Coleman,who is down to Duke and Texas, and Victory Prep Academy (TX) forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who told Scout.com he’s down to Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and TCU.
Harvard was in on Carter Jr. and a Harvard assistant watched Bamba play at the recent PSA Cardinals Showcase in Pottstown, Pa.
“He’s the smartest person in the room,” Westtown coach Seth Berger told News-Press.com. “I might have more knowledge, but he’s got more horsepower under the hood. He’s eligible for Harvard. That tells you right there.”
UConn, Syracuse and Michigan are also on Bamba’s list.
Wherever Bamba goes to school, it figures to only be for one year. He’s currently projected as the No. 2 pick — behind Ayton — in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
“When we first got him, we thought he was an Ivy League kid,” Berger said. “Then we realized he was a high major, Division I kid. Now we realize, he’s a one-and-done kid.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.