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.
Projected Top 5 pick Mohamed Bamba puts on a show in Texas’ loss to No. 11 Kansas
Kansas won its Big 12 opener for the 27th straight year, beating rival Texas 92-86 on Friday night.
As impressive as that streak is, the story of the game was Texas freshman big man Mohamed Bamba, he of the 7-foot-9 wingspan and 9-foot-6 standing reach.
The 6-foot-11 Bamba went off for a career-high 22 points — including this alley oop dunk below — to go with 15 rebounds and 8 blocks. That followed his outing against Alabama on Dec. 22 when he went for 17 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks..
The Harlem, N.Y., native is a projected top-5 pick in the NBA Draft, where he figures to be among the top few picks along with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr.
ESPN’s Mike Schmitz wrote of Bamba: “If the wide-shouldered 7-footer stepped into an NBA game tomorrow he’d have the longest wingspan (7-9½) and fifth-largest standing reach (9-6) in the league.”
ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla also discussed Bamba’s skillset in this episode of The 4 Quarters Podcast.
Schmitz added that Bamba is “one of only four players in NCAA history to average at least 13.0 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per 40 minutes through 10-plus games before turning 20 years old. The other three? Shaquille O’Neal (1991 and 1992), Hakeem Olajuwon (1983) and Ralph Sampson (1980).
“I have game-changing defensive abilities,” Bamba told ESPN.com during an exclusive mid-December interview in Austin. “I’ve really embraced that I can make plays that most people can’t make. As soon as I started doing that and stringing together stops, next thing you know we’re dominant defensively as a team. That’s what I hope to bring wherever I end up long term.”
Still, his offensive game is coming along nicely as well, as evidenced by his combined 39 points in his last two games.
Bamba is also a shrewd, thoughtful, well-rounded young man who visited China last spring and has said he hopes to visit all seven continents.
It’s not hard to imagine him becoming a global ambassador for the NBA down the line.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.