Last night, former Kentucky target and current Texas Longhorn Mohamed Bamba threw down one of the craziest dunks we’ve seen in this young college basketball season.
With nearly an eight-foot wingspan, we knew we’d see things like this in his first, and likely only, season in college. That still doesn’t take away from how absolutely bonkers it truly was:
Mohamed Bamba, ladies and gentlemen. pic.twitter.com/1BiCKIQbWC
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) December 6, 2017
Just for comparison’s sake, Bamba’s dunk matched Dwight Howard’s sticker dunk from the 2009 Dunk Contest and several of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s poster dunks from this season:
On that insane Mo Bamba dunk, he got the ball as high as the Dwight sticker from the '09 dunk contest and nearly a foot higher than that insane Giannis posterizaion of Aron Baynes from October. image h/t @esidery pic.twitter.com/BDyB9T0hkk
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) December 6, 2017
Bamba making headlines made me think back to his recruitment and just how bad Kentucky fans wanted this kid coming out of high school. UK commitments, Quade Green in particular, relentlessly recruited Bamba right to the end, but his prior relationship with Texas coach Shaka Smart won out in the end.
The end result has been pretty significant for both teams.
The Wildcats have experienced great inconsistency in the frontcourt, with a big question mark at the four-spot even to this day. PJ Washington has had moments, Sacha Killeya-Jones has thrived in limited playing time, and Wenyen Gabriel has been an energizer, but offensive production has been minimal. Nick Richards had a slow start to the year at the five, but he’s picked up major steam in the past several weeks.
Bamba has been one of the lone bright spots of the Longhorns, and has remained at the top of the draft boards throughout the year. That being said, he hasn’t been able to carry the team by himself like some Texas fans thought he could when he signed.
With Bamba thriving at Texas, many people still wonder just how dominant this Kentucky team could be had he signed here back in May. Most UK fans would tell you they were extremely worried about this team when Bamba told Calipari no, and the Richards-Bamba comparisons started almost immediately afterward.
So how do the numbers stack up?
In 28 minutes per game, the Texas big man is averaging 10.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, four blocks, and a steal per contest.
Kentucky big man Nick Richards is averaging 8.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game in just 17.6 minutes.
Though Bamba leads Richards in just about every statistical category, the Kentucky big man has been more efficient in limited playing time. Per 40 minutes, Richards is averaging 19.6 points on 65% shooting, 14.8 rebounds, 3.4 blocks, and just 1.7 turnovers per game. Bamba is averaging 15.3 points, 14.5 rebounds, 5.7 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers per 40.
Both players certainly have immense potential and will only get better as the year progresses, but it’s still interesting to see just how impressive Richards has been on the court, while Bamba has garnered all the media attention. If Richards can manage to work on the foul issues, we could have a serious talent on our hands. Regardless, folks thinking the Kentucky freshman will be around for two or three years are sadly mistaken.
Even still, it’s impossible to deny just how special this frontcourt would be with both Richards and Bamba. We’ve seen a major progression in Richards’ game already, and to think what Kenny Payne could mold a guy of Bamba’s potential into is just scary to think about.