When you look at next year’s squad, Kentucky is one or two players from being a title contender. Even though the Cats are in dire need of a few good shooters, the one player that can make the biggest difference is another big man, Mohamed Bamba. Yes, Kentucky’s front court is already loaded for the 2017-18 season, but Bamba seems to be the next in the line of instant-impact, must-have prospects, ala Anthony Davis or Karl Towns. The 7′ Bamba controls the rim, protecting it on defense and punishing it on offense. Not only is he extremely talented, he’s extremely smart, and not just “smart for a basketball player.” The Harlem native attended a sports business conference at MIT last summer just for fun and also had Harvard on his list before narrowing it to Kentucky, Duke, Texas, and Michigan. After interviewing him at the McDonald’s All-American Game last week, Nick Roush told me that occasionally, Bamba’s sense of humor was so dry that it went way over most reporters’ heads. Simply put, he’s a different type of dude, which is why I like him so much.
This weekend, Bamba’s in Portland, Oregon for Friday night’s Nike Hoop Summit, where he’ll play alongside and against future Cats Quade Green, Jarred Vanderbilt, Shai Alexander, Nick Richards, and fellow UK target Kevin Knox. ESPN’s Chantel Jennings is in Portland and posted this update on Bamba, who probably fielded a million questions about his recruitment, but clearly, has other priorities in mind.
“Mohamed Bamba is between Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Michigan and doesn’t have a timeline for his final decision. The biggest thought on his mind right now — other than playing well at these hoops events and doing well in school — is when he can get his driver’s license because like most New Yorkers, he has never had use for his license with the ample public transport. He’s hoping to get it (and a car) before college.”
Here’s hoping Bamba gets that license and that car, and drives it to Lexington. Evan Daniels, who is in Portland this week, told Kyle Tucker that’s the likeliest scenario right now (him coming to Kentucky, not him getting his license or car).
“If I was going to make a prediction, I would say Kentucky for Mohamed Bamba,” said Daniels. “I think they’re in the best shape right now. He doesn’t have a timeline, and I don’t think he’s truly made a decision yet, but just from what I’ve been able to gather and examining the situation, it seems like Kentucky is in great shape.”
A lot can change, of course, but bring on Bamba.