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 shines at McDonald’s All-American game as Kentucky, Duke commits make recruiting pitch
By NICK MEDLINECHICAGO — Despite all of the accolades, and all of the attention, Mohamed Bamba still entered the McDonald’s All-American game looking to prove himself.
“The biggest thing that basketball has taught me is to never become complacent,” Bamba said. “Things can change very quickly.”
The West Chester (PA) Westtown center responded with a dominant performance Wednesday at the United Center. Bamba scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and added five rebounds, four blocks and two steals for Team East in just 21 minutes of action. Although Team West earned the 109-107 victory, with Michael Porter Jr. winning Most Valuable Player honors, much of the postgame discussion centered on Bamba and his strong play.
“Everyone who’s uncommitted, I’m recruiting to Missouri, and Mo Bamba is one of them,” Porter Jr. said.
Bamba currently lists four finalists: Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Texas. He played alongside four Kentucky commits on Team East (Quade Green, Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington, and Nick Richards) at McDonald’s events, and they made their Wildcats pitch clear. Green said he simply goes up to Bamba and Kevin Knox, says “BBN,” and then walks away. Duke commit Gary Trent Jr. said he tries to sell Bamba, Knox and Trevon Duval on the program’s tradition.
It was easy to see throughout the week why Bamba became such a highly regarded recruit. He proved to be a difficult assignment for elite McDonald’s All-American big men including Mitchell Robinson and DeAndre Ayton. He looked smooth on both ends during practices, and then made a statement with one of the most impressive efforts at the McDonald’s game. The Harlem native and former PSA Cardinals standout said he wanted to remove any doubts about his physicality.
“A lot of people look at me and say I’m too skinny and that they can push me around, but I think not,” Bamba said. “I may not always be shooting the ball well, but I can make sure my defense is always on point.”
Bamba added that he was satisfied with his overall performance, but recognized some areas for potential improvement.
“I think I played well, but there were some spots where I could have some tweaking, and there are some things I could have done differently to help my team win.”
After a dominant performance against some of the very best, Mohamed Bamba is prepared to make his game even better.
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