What was long said to be five-star power forward Mohamed Bamba’s unnoficial list of seven schools has now been officially cut to include just four programs; a cut the Texas Longhorns survived.
Mo Bamba says he's no longer considering Harvard. UConn, Syracuse also out.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 15, 2017
Down to UK, Duke, UT, Mich
Will decide late March/early April.
Of the four schools still being considered, none come off as much of a surprise. Duke and Kentucky are national powers and mainstays in the championship conversation, which has proven to be appealing to one-and-done prospects. Texas and Michigan, on the other hand, have a history of hardwood success, but also feature tremendous academic programs, which is of significant importance to the 6’11 talent, whom has legitimate interest in his future beyond basketball.
In addition to his relationship with Shaka Smart, which was strengthened last summer during his time with Smart’s Team USA U18 squad, Bamba officially visited the 40 Acres in October, along with four-star point guard Matt Coleman, who is set to choose between Texas and Duke on Monday.
As expected, though, the power players in Bamba’s recruitment are the Blue Devils and Wildcats. Bamba unofficially visited Kentucky for Big Blue Madness prior to his Texas visit and the Kentucky and Duke staffs have since made various stops to see the Westtown School (N.Y.) product. Per reports, Bamba will officially visit Kentucky next week and take his official visit to Duke at the end of February. Bamba officially visited Michigan last September.
While landing such a prized prospect over Kentucky and Duke won’t be an easy task, by any stretch of the imagination, Smart’s blueprint to selling Bamba on the Longhorns is quite clear.
For starters, it’s been noted that Bamba loves Austin and the academics at Texas can serve as a major plus, as should his pre-existing relationship with Smart, and should Coleman commit on Monday, experience with three potential teammates from his Team USA stint in Coleman, Jarrett Allen and James Banks. Much like Michigan, where Texas can provide guarantees will come in the prospect of immediate playing time with the pending departures of seniors Shaquille Cleare and Mareik Isom.
If Smart manages to land Coleman on Monday and then outlast a pair of national brands and a prestigious academic institution in Michigan, it will serve as his second top five recruiting class in as many years and quite likely set Texas up to enter the 2017-18 season with an absolutely stacked roster; one that would finally feature experience and a true point guard.
Bamba ranks as the nation’s No. 3 prospect and the No. 2 power forward in his class, per 247Sports Composite.