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.
Mohamed Bamba Down to 4 Schools, Will Visit Kentucky, Duke
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Mohamed Bamba, the 6-foot-11 big man from the Westtown (PA) School, is down to four schools in his recruitment and is planning official visits to Kentucky and Duke.
Following his team’s 66-54 win over DeAndre Ayton and Hillcrest Prep (AZ) in front of Shaquille O’Neal on Saturday night at the Hoophall Classic, Bamba said he has eliminated Harvard, Syracuse and UConn from his list and is now considering Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Michigan.
So far, Bamba has taken officials to Michigan and Texas, in addition to going to Harvard on several occasions. He will have one official remaining after Duke, but may not use it, he said.
As for a timetable on a decision, Bamba said he’s looking at late March or early April.
“Yeah, definitely probably toward the end of March, early April,” he said. “I kind of want to get home after spring break. I kind of want to do final visits with the coaches and then make a decision after that.”
Bamba will take an official visit to Kentucky on Friday-Saturday and be on hand for the South Carolina game on Saturday night, a source said.
He will then Duke visit Feb. 26-28. The Blue Devils host Florida State Feb. 28.
“As far as a timetable on deciding, I think these two visits are the crucial ones,” Bamba said.
“The Duke visit isn’t as clear because Coach K’s recent [back] surgery but I think I’m visiting Kentucky next weekend,” he added. “I’m saying think because I may have to change it around.”
Asked what he’ll be looking for at Kentucky, Bamba said: “Everything. Every campus has something different to offer.”
Quade Green, Bamba’s AAU teammate with the PSA Cardinals, is recruiting several people, including Bamba and Tampa (FL) Catholic wing Kevin Knox. Hamidou Diallo,who just enrolled at Kentucky this week, is also pushing for Bamba to join them.
“They’re coming after me pretty hard,” Bamba said. “I’m going to use Hami as pretty much an informant because he’s there and he knows what it’s like and he’s going literally straight out of high school to start midseason so I’m going to use him as a resource.”
Bamba said Diallo has been recruiting him to Kentucky even before he announced last Saturday in Queens.
“He’s been doing that before he committed which was kind of funny to me,” he said “I just kept telling him, ‘How you gonna recruit for a school while you’re not even a commit yet or on the campus.’ But Quade has really been relentless. He’s been following us around campus. It’s annoying.”
Kentucky already has Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington committed in the frontcourt in 2017 and could return Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard.
“It’s been mainly the same pitch as the summer,” Bamba told Scout.com of Kentucky in December. “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.”
As for Duke, Bamba visited once before his junior year.
“It was just a great spot,” he said.
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 at 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.
“Coach [Jeff] Capel, he’s had his hands full because he’s the interim head coach for Duke right now but I’m still in touch with him,” Bamba said Saturday. “I talk to him every now and then.”
Don’t count out Texas, either.
“They’re more concerned about me personally and how I’m dealing with things,” he said. ”
Michigan is also alive.
“Michigan is still involved, I talk to the coaches every now and then,” he said.
As for Harvard, Syracuse and UConn, they are out.
“I decided not to move forward with Harvard,” he said. “Each school that I’m looking at to me is the best at something that they do and Harvard is the best school ever and my family wasn’t very too happy with me deciding to move forward but they know I’m the gatekeeper for this and they respect my decision.”
Syracuse and UConn are also out.
“No, not as much,” he said.
Wherever Bamba goes to school, it figures to only be for one year. He’s currently projected as the No. 3 pick — behind Ayton — in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
“When we first got him, we thought he was an Ivy League kid,” Westtown coach Seth Berger told News-Press.com at City of Palms. “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.