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Mohamed Bamba commits to Texas


Well, crap.

Mohamed Bamba is going to Texas. The five-star big man announced his commitment Thursday morning via his own words on The Players’ Tribune. In the end, he picked the Longhorns over Kentucky, Duke and Michigan in a disappointing decision for Big Blue Nation.

Bamba’s explanation of the decision is a long one and very well-written for the kid who is wise beyond his age. He explains living by a mantra of “filling his jar with big rocks first,” and he names Texas as the program that filled his jar the best, and Shaka Smart and academics as the biggest rocks:

Big Rocks

The Coach

Coach Smart may not have been aware of it, but I put him through a weeklong job interview last summer when he coached me on Team USA in Valdivia, Chile. We instantly formed a bond. Now, the tables have turned, and I’m the one interviewing with him, hoping to show I can play a major role in his team’s success next season. His attention to detail is truly unbelievable – I can’t tell you how many times he picked up on something I mentioned in passing and brought it back full circle several months later. I’ve seen firsthand how much he genuinely cares about me and my family and how he’s going to challenge me to be in a state of continuous improvement.

Beyond Basketball

How can a projected “one-and-done” college athlete get a real college education? That gets thrown around a lot and I want to go on record as saying that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. My academic focus is not just lip service. It’s extremely important to me and my family, but I also firmly believe that the best class I’ll ever take will actually be taught by the people I will surround myself with.

I feel especially fortunate to explore my academic interests within the McCombs School of Business, one of the nation’s top undergraduate BBA programs. Learning from world-class professors and classmates in Austin, a city that’s renowned for tech and innovation, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Oh, and that alumni network – man, the Horns are everywhere! I can see and feel their passion and I’m excited about aligning myself with them for a lifetime of support and learning. I’ve seen firsthand the power of this from my time at Westtown and Cardigan Mountain.

These two big rocks were the true keys to my decision – without the coach and without the “beyond basketball” element, the stones, pebbles and sand wouldn’t have mattered that much.

Bamba goes on to list strength, conditioning and skill development as his jar’s “stones,” followed by the campus environment and weather as the “pebbles and sand.”

It’s a very good read from a young man who just broke our basketball hearts.

Mohamed Bamba: “Ready To Rock”

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

67 Comments for Mohamed Bamba commits to Texas

  1. Peas and Carrots
    11:06 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    We’ll be fine

  2. WildcatCam
    11:06 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    They won’t make it past the 1st weekend in the tourney.

    • KYcats11
      11:21 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      They make it to the tourney, unless your talking about the NIT

  3. AllBlueAllDay
    11:07 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Best of luck to the big guy. Would’ve been super nice to have him though. I would like to know his reasons as to why he decided on Texas over the likes of UK and Duke.

    • NcCatFan75
      12:01 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      I think he spoke eloquently to that.

    • AllBlueAllDay
      12:15 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Haha I see that now. When I first posted this comment, the letter hadn’t been attached to the article. So now my comment looks silly, like I can’t read.

  4. 8xchamp
    11:07 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    So much for him being bright, guess when they lose in the nit he can watch us win a title

    • ClutchCargo
      11:14 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      I’m sure he had his reasons for choosing UT. The bright thing to do is to not come here if there is any doubt it’s the right fit. I’m fine with that.

    • NcCatFan75
      12:06 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      I can’t stand comments like this. It speaks poorly of our fan base. We have an overloaded front court and getting him would have been a luxury. Basketball isn’t the only reason kids choose schools. Family, school, etc play a big part. This kid will succeed either way and so will we.

    • Luether
      6:33 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Not likely we’ll win a title next season – with or without him…

    • Luether
      6:34 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Way too little experience this coming season…

    • catsarerunnin
      8:27 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink


  5. ClutchCargo
    11:08 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I’m slightly disappointed by this, but nearly as much as I would have been had we missed on any of the other guys we got. Between Richards, SKJ and Tai I think we’re good with bigs..

  6. Chacosrule
    11:08 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Very strange. Oh well. Better than dooook.

  7. catsfan9508
    11:09 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Lol he played us didn’t he

    • ukbradstith
      11:11 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      No, he didn’t at all.

    • catsfan9508
      11:49 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      I know he didn’t cause he never said anything lol. I’m just messing around cause I’m shocked he picked Texas. But I never felt as comfortable as some did with this one.

  8. DelrayCat
    11:09 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I am actually mostly happy about this. He was a one and done guy, whereas now SKJ will actually get some much needed playing time.
    SKJ, on the other hand, will potentially be a 4 year player at UK (along with Tai). We need more of those and less one-and-dones imo.

    • Eazy
      5:42 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      I feel good about it too. He won’t make Texas a contender. It doesn’t hurt us like it would have had he gone to Duke or Michigan to a lesser extent.

  9. nstewart
    11:11 am May 18, 2017 Permalink


    11:12 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Happy for Coach Shaka Smart, it’s not always easy beating out UK and Coach Cal but he did. We’ve been hearing about this for a while and now it’s here. Good luck to the Longhorns in Landing the ELITE big. As for Kentucky, we will be fine. We will get Nick and SKJ ready to make a run at this thing.

  11. timbo
    11:14 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Wow. I encourage everyone to read his article. That kid is special, I don’t care where he plays basketball for one year. Hate to lose a guy who would have raised the team GPA and speaking ability (not to mention the talent) to a crazy high, but gotta love the kid’s intelligence and thoughtfulness wherever he is. Just shows how important those out-of-season national coaching opportunities can be…

    • keiths
      12:41 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      I don’t give a damn how well a kid speaks, or what his ACT score is. If he goes to Texas instead of Ky or DUKE or Kansas, he is dumb as hell

    • catsarerunnin
      1:06 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Your comment is “dumb as hell” like most you have made here.

  12. lcmshannon
    11:14 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Someone HAS to explain this to me… what could possibly be appealing about playing for a program that hasn’t won in years?

    • Mathlete
      11:35 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      You can come to UK and you might get outshined, or you can go to Texas and be the best player in a decade

  13. jnthomp0802
    11:15 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    If you have enough reservations about playing for us to drag this out until mid-May, UK basketball might not be the place for you

    • jnthomp0802
      11:17 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Our best players want to be here, they don’t have to be over sold on it

    • stl_cat
      11:31 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      That’s kinda dumb. John Wall committed in May, are we saying he didn’t want to be here?

    • jnthomp0802
      11:43 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Well Cal got hired on March 31 so it’s a little different

    • jnthomp0802
      11:44 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Cal got hired on March 31 so it’s a little different

  14. Shagaris Sock Puppet
    11:17 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Nick Richards and Sacha got to carry the load! We will be extremely talented next year, would love to have Bamba, but good luck to him and Texas.

  15. 2Dogs
    11:20 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I find this Shakaing.

  16. Xzander
    11:21 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    well if it isn’t set I know who our secVb12 opp will be now.

    • Mathlete
      11:25 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      We played them a couple of years ago at Rupp, I think it’s moving on to WVU

  17. Saul T. Nuts
    11:29 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I think he made a huge mistake, but let’s be clear, Texas has a solid history of getting big men to the NBA: Lemarcus Aldridge (2nd pick, 2006), Kevin Durant (2nd pick, 2007), Tristan Thompson (4th pick, 2011), Myles Turner (11th pick, 2015), and Jarrett Allen will be a top 20 pick this year.

    • binarysolo
      11:49 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, you’re right, Texas has a much better track record of getting bigs into the NBA than lil ol’ UK.

      Skal Labissiere

      Karl Towns
      Willie Cauley-Stein
      Trey Lyles

      Julius Randle

      Nerlens Noel

      Anthony Davis
      Terrence Jones

      Enes Kanter
      Josh Harrellson

      DeMarcus Cousins
      Patrick Patterson
      Daniel Orton (hey he still got drafted!)

  18. LegggoooCats
    11:30 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    A million to one odds that Bamba didn’t write this.

    • Irwin R. Fletcher
      11:40 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      1. Those are some long odds. 2. Have you ever heard him speak?

    • CATandMONKEY
      11:49 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Fairly sure he academically qualified for Harvard.

    • RealCatsFan
      11:51 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Yep – this kid is the real deal. He is probably far more intelligent than most of the folks writing comments on here – including me.

      12:13 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      He’s a gifted student that could have got into any school academically he got a 30 on his ACT, I bet he penned every word in that letter

  19. Blue Jesus
    11:42 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    This was easier to swallow than if he held an announcement ceremony and had some big reveal. Props to the kid for the way he handled his whole recruitment. He’s one opponent I won’t mind rooting for… so long as he isn’t playing Kentucky.

    Funny to think there was about a week span where there was a decent chance our frontcourt would be the “Bam and Bamba Show!” But as has been pointed out many times, we’ve got no shortage of forwards for next year, and between Richards, SKJ, and Tai, we’ll manage. Would have loved getting Bamba, but you can’t win ’em all!

  20. KYJelly
    11:43 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I’m sure Shaka Smart is a great guy and has a good basketball mind, but he doesn’t win. If Bambas focus was his bond with the coach and academics instead of winning then he didn’t make a bad decision,

    • Eazy
      5:46 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Texas is a good academic school but Duke and Michigan are better. I like Shaka but he hasn’t done much outside of the one run he made at VCU when he beat Kansas to go to the final 4.

  21. HeshimuMeansWarrior
    11:48 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Probably best case scenario if he wasn’t going to commit to us. SKJ–time to shine!!!!

  22. CPACAT
    11:49 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Agree…his mention of the reputation of the business school and the extensive and well-connected alumni base shows he is thinking far past the first weekend in April of next year. That is admirable in a young man and he should be applauded for that. Obviously basketball is not his only goal in life.

  23. RealCatsFan
    11:50 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I wish we could see him in blue, but he is obviously a very intelligent and well-spoken young man, and it sounds like he put a lot of thought into his decision. Like Karl Towns, I get the feeling that Mo has more planned for his lifetime than just basketball. He is truly looking at the big picture, and his own life down the road. I completely respect his decision, and it sounds like he is the kind of human being who will find success doing just about anything he chooses to do.

    Best of luck, Mr. Bamba – except when you play my Cats! 🙂

  24. kennedyjedi
    11:52 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    First and foremost, I highly respect Bamba’s decision. If you haven’t read the Player’s Tribune article, you should. Not many 18 year-olds have that type of unique and mature perspective. I wish him nothing but success in Austin.

    Those things being said, this is heartbreaking for the Cats. Cal wanted him badly and spent a great deal of time recruiting Bamba. Granted Cal has missed out on some he wanted before, but time has shown the overwhelming majority of those recruits couldn’t cut the mustard anyway. Bamba may be the first big man Cal spent a big-time investment in who flourishes elsewhere.

    Gotta turn the page though. I am hoping to see a rejuvenated SKJ this year. Tai will have moments where he can be effective. I see Nick Richards as a little bit of a work-in-progress, but will now have to step his game up. With Bamba off the board, the Diallo decision now becomes even more critical.

  25. Lip Man 1
    11:53 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Wish him all the best, seems like a young man who has his head screwed on right. But the reality is Texas isn’t that good, they aren’t going anywhere next year and then he’ll be off to the NBA.

    In some ways, given the issues with Texas basketball that even Smart hasn’t been able to solve, this is a strange pick.

  26. CKTermy23
    11:58 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    This is unfortunate,but not surprising. He a little while ago stated that one of the biggest reasons​ for committing to Texas was Shaka Smart Being Muslim. He felt more comfortable playing for a coach that shares his religion. The other big issue was playing time.

    • DelrayCat
      12:17 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      This is huge. Did not realize this was the case. Now it seems so obvious. Allah Akbar.

    • lexslamman
      12:45 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      You do realize that Shaka Smart isn’t Muslim, right? And that Shaka is a Zulu name? And that he was raised in Wisconsin by his white mother?

  27. NcCatFan75
    11:59 am May 18, 2017 Permalink

    I’m disappointed, but wish this kid the best. Seems like an awesome guy i would have loved to see in Blue… but nonetheless, we’ll still be awesome. It’s not like we aren’t already loaded in the front court. Honestly, I’d rather have Diallo back, but again… We’ll see

  28. Rain1940
    12:17 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Those talking about Texas not winning or making the NCAA need to realize that Rick Barnes left Texas in a terrible mess, yet Shaka took them to the NCAA his first year. Better than that, he took VCU to the NCAA every year except the first of his coaching career there. Texas may not be there this year but if Shaka remains their coach, you can bet they will again be a basketball school to reckon with. Convincing a young man like Bamba to join his program is just the first step. If he is a good as advertised, he could play anywhere and make the NBA in a year. Look at Simmons from LSU if you have any doubts.

    Best of luck to an obviously intelligent young man. Hope to see him play on TV a few times.

    • jaws2
      12:34 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      So let me ask you this. When has Texas been a program to reckon with? How many titles do they have? How many final fours? How many conference titles? A program to reckon with? Seriously? Good teams, sure. Have to reckon with? Pallllleeeeeeease!

    • Rain1940
      3:53 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      When people become basketball fans instead of wearing blue glasses all the time, they may realize there is more to basketball than KY. TX has been to 3 final fours, 7 elite eights and 10 sweet sixteens. Pretty damn good for a football school. They do play football.

      Under Barnes, not the best of coaches IMO, TX went to 16 NCAAs in 17 seasons, won 20 games 15 of the 17 years. TX was recognized as the national champion by one poll in 1933 and had one losing season from 1912 to 1950 before falling on hard times.

      Yes, some of that happened many years ago but I don’t hear BBN disregarding Rupp’s early record or the wins before Rupp that helped KY reach the all time wins record. FYI, I am a KY fan, never lived in TX or rooted for them. Mostly I like good basketball and the one and done era doesn’t necessarily equate to good basketball.

    • Rain1940
      4:04 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Missed one of your question Jaws2. TX has won 25 conference basketball championships. They won the only game against KY, 1951. In most people’s opinion the Southwest Conference was always a more difficult conference than the SEC so don’t start bragging about all the conference championships won in the SEC when there are few members that have ever been good at basketball.

      In addition to the Univ. of TX, there have been other schools that gave KY a difficult time as i remember. More of a basketball fan than a BB fan here.

  29. lexslamman
    12:38 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Poor academics are going to be a huge sandbag on UK’s chances with good recruits moving forward. Our teams may get the grades, but UK’s academic programs aren’t producing great results overall. Can’t blame a smart man for choosing a school like Texas.

    • DelrayCat
      12:41 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Not to mention UT is right in the heart of Austin, an awesome capital city with loads more to do than Lex. Plus it is within an hour of SA and Houston.

    • Mathlete
      12:51 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Texas is an objectively better school, but UK’s academic programs are actually very solid for a public university in a state with such a dysfunctional government.

      UK the 63rd best public school in the country according to US News and World Report, (and considering that literally half of the top 10 are California Universities like UC Berkeley and UCLA that’s not that bad) meanwhile Texas is #18 on the same list (U of Littlebrother is tied for #90 on the same list, for in-state reference)

    • lexslamman
      1:01 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, I’m a bit biased because I grew up there, but Lexington doesn’t have much going for it as a town, especially for an 18 year old. As far as good programs at UK, when I was there the business, engineering and pharmacy programs were all well-regarded, but mostly on the graduate level. I can’t really think of anything that UK particularly excels at on the undergraduate level, but it’s been a while since I’ve been on campus.

    • catsarerunnin
      1:12 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

      A one and done player chooses Texas over UK because of better academics for his one year of college? Ummmm….ok?

  30. runtsfan
    1:23 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Do we now get to stop talking about recruiting? (Sigh of relief)

  31. Bobbum Man
    1:56 pm May 18, 2017 Permalink

    Well that sucks, really wanted this kid. But it’s hard to wish him anything but the best, sounds like a great kid and it’s better than duke or unc. Shows now how huge the Knox commitment was. Imagine if we miss on Knox and bamba and diallou stays in the draft, we’d have been hurting a little bit

  32. JTHinton
    8:29 am May 19, 2017 Permalink

    Good luck getting a winning record buddy. Shaka Smart isn’t at VCU and it’s not 2011. UK FINAL FOUR!?!

  33. timewilltell
    11:23 pm May 19, 2017 Permalink

    Good luck to the young man. Sounds like he made a personal decision and not a basketball one. I do agree that the academic case for choosing UT does not hold much water. If you are 1n done then the academic decision just do does not hold water. Hey he is a 18 year old kid. It was/is your decision.