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ESPN analyst believes Texas likely leads for No. 3 prospect Mohamed Bamba

We like where your head is at, Mr. Finkelstein

Basketball: Nike EYBL Finals at Peach Jam Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

There was a point in five-star power forward Mohamed Bamba’s recruitment in which the Texas Longhorns seemed like a long-shot landing spot, at best. According to ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein, though, Texas may actually be the current favorite for the elite Harlem product following his October 28 official visit.

"If you had to identify a favorite right now, it’s probably Texas," Finkelstein said during an ESPN Signing Day Special just days ago. "He was on their campus for an official visit a couple of weeks ago and all reports were it went extremely well. Right now, I think Texas has to be the program that's in the lead."

While prying such a coveted talent from the unrelenting grasp of Kentucky’s John Calipari, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is far from an easy task, there’s now some legitimate steam in favor of Texas’ chances at landing the nation’s No. 3 player.

For starters, Bamba spent his summer as a member of the Team USA U18 squad playing under Texas head coach Shaka Smart, prompting the 6’11 forward to call Smart one of his three favorite coaches, “just relationship-wise.” Joining Bamba on Smart’s team USA roster were current Longhorn freshmen Jarrett Allen and James Banks, along with priority point guard target Matt Coleman, who is reported to have developed a great relationship with Bamba over the recent months. Coleman joined Bamba on his official visit to Texas in late October and though there’s been nothing public about it, it’s quite possible the two become a package deal for Texas or Duke.

If Texas is, in fact, holding the edge in Bamba’s recruiting race, Smart and his staff will be gearing up for a marathon, as Bamba is likely going to decide in the spring.

247Sports previously noted that sources within the Texas program feel confident and excited about the star power talent that will ultimately become Longhorns by the time Smart’s 2017 class concludes. With two available scholarships remaining — three if Allen or any other Longhorn heads to the NBA early — Smart following up his fifth-ranked 2016 class with one of the best in Texas history is certainly still a possibility.