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.
Bryce Aiken, Mohamed Bamba Dominate in Frankie Williams Charity Classic, Talk Recruiting
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Bryce Aiken is a play-making point guard who is generously listed at 6-feet, 165 pounds, while Mohamed Bamba is a 3-point shooting, ball-handling, dunking machine who is 6-foot-11, 205 pounds and still growing.
Yet the two players combined to lead Team Aces to a dramatic 123-121 victory over Team Action Friday night in the 6th Annual Frankie Williams Charity Classic at the Theodore D. Young Community Center.
Bamba went for 25 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks, including the game-winning dunk, while Aiken scored 28 points en route to MVP honors.
“I’m trying, I’m trying,” Bamba told SNY.tv with a smile. “I’m just exploring what I can do on the floor right now.”
The Harlem native and rising junior at Westtown (Pa.) High School can certainly do a lot. He wowed the capacity crowd by draining a 3-pointer, throwing down a slew of dunks and even bringing the ball up the court.
“I was always constantly tall,” said Bamba, the brother of former Arizona and Providence forward Sidiki Johnson. “The reason why I can put the ball on the floor a little bit is because I’m from Harlem and nobody in Harlem is going to pick you if you can’t dribble the ball.”
Bamba holds offers from Kansas, Syracuse, Arizona, UConn, Texas, Villanova, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Penn State, Temple, Seton Hall, James Madison and Yale, and it’s hard to imagine that any college in the country wouldn’t want him on their team.
“Mohammed has a a structured plan in his recruitment,” PSA Cardinals coach and Wesleyan University alum Terrance “Munch” Williams recently told SNY.tv. “He has a certain amount of offers which he will receive and that number is quickly approaching. He will stop taking offers from schools directly after his team plays in the Mokan Elite event in late July. He will use all of his junior year to get to know all the coaches/schools who have offered him in hopes of deciding which college or university he would like to attend early into his senior year.
“At this point he will continue to work as hard as possible on his skill set/development of his body. Needless to say, if he does these things and continues to do great things in the classroom, he will easily be a Top 10 player in his class
For his part, Bamba isn’t focused on recruiting and is letting Williams handle it.
“I’m letting Munch handle it, I trust him,” he said.
Asked what it means to have all these offers, he said, “It’s nice. It tells me to work more.”
Williams believes Bamba could eventually be an NBA lottery pick.
“Every kid grows up wanting to play in the NBA,” Bamba said.
As for Aiken, the diminutive point guard has a busy weekend. The St. Patrick floor general planned to leave early Saturday morning for the Pangos All-American Camp in California.
As far as recruiting, Aiken said Stanford, Harvard and Miami are recruiting him the hardest.
Illinois, Florida State, Seton Hall and others are also in the mix.
“I’m looking for schools that are both academically fitting for me as well as athletically,” Aiken told SNY.tv.
He plans to cut his list after Peach Jam and towards the end of the summer.
As for Stanford, Aiken said: “They’re in the Pac-12 so the games are pretty spaced out. The guards have a lot of space to work with on the court. It’s a different style of play than here on the East Coast, it’s more of that laid-back style…The weather is real nice.
“Coach [Tim] O’Toole is the main coach over there recruiting me, he’s been doing a really good job of doing that. We talk probably every other day, if not every two days, and it’s not always about basketball it’s about how I’m doing in school, how I’m doing in general. He’s just always checking me.”
On Harvard: “I was just talking to Coach [Tommy] Amaker and Coach E [Brian Eskildsen] right before we came in here, so we always stay in touch, talk about basketball, how they see me fitting into their system, how they want to put the ball in my hands from Day 1, so that’s definitely interesting to me.”
On Miami: “Coach [Jim] Larranaga and coach Chris Caputo, they want to see me fit into their system and they want to get me down there for an official visit.”
Aiken said he hopes to decide sometime in the fall “before the high school season.”
Photos: Lonnie Webb Photography
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.