365 days ago Westtown (Pa.) School junior Mohamed Bamba wasn't a household recruiting name.
At that time, Bamba had just a couple of scholarship offers and wasn't ranked locally, much less nationally. But all that changed quickly.
During the second weekend of December in 2014, Bamba, who stood 6-foot-10 and had a 7-foot-3 wingspan, emerged at the Bullis Holiday Classic. After watching him in the first round of the event, it was clear that Bamba was oozing with potential, but he was lacking a motor and a lack of strength hindered him at times.
Over the course of the next few months, Bamba improved and developed his game. In the spring, playing for the PSA Cardinals, Bamba established himself as a household name and began to reel in high major college interest. Coaches were enamored with his combination of length, athleticism and touch around the basket.
By August, Bamba had moved to No. 5 nationally in the 2017 rankings. He was selected to compete in Nike’s Bahamas trip, which included 12 of the best players from the Nike EYBL. He also had earned an invitation to the prestigious USA Basketball Men’s Developmental camp.
The same weekend, exactly a year later, I walked into Bullis School and sat in the exact same seat where I watched him a year prior for the Holiday Classic. This time a more confident, 6-foot-11 post prospect, who now possessed a 7-foot-8 wingspan, took the court.
Up against an outmatched Tacoma Academy, Bamba was active and aggressive. It didn’t matter that he was playing against inferior competition. Bamba played with energy and a motor that he had developed over the past year. Six minutes into the game, Bamba had swatted six shots. By halftime he had recorded 11.
“I learned how to be dominant on the floor,” Bamba said after the game.
That was evident.
Bamba played less than half the game and still recorded a triple-double of 19 points, 14 blocks and 13 rebounds. Not only was he a defensive force, but he showed good feel on offense. He viciously dunked put backs, scored at the rim and rebounded the ball with tenacity.
Strength was also a difference. While he’s still skinny, Bamba added 13 pounds of muscle to his frame.
“I’ve spent a bunch of time in the weight room with the team and on my own,” Bamba said.
“It’s definitely been a focal point, but it’s more of putting on the right amount of weight and putting on effective weight.”
Not only has Bamba improved physically and skill wise, but he’s also playing with a different mentality. His recent success on the court has him looking for more.
“I want to be No. 1 in the country,” Bamba said. “That’s what is next. That’s the goal.”
And now Bamba is firmly in that conversation with DeAndre Ayton and Wendell Carter.
His physical attributes are elite, but so is his game. Shot blocking is a strength, but he’s also equipped with tremendous potential on the offensive end. He has terrific hands and touch, plus can make a hook shot or a face up jump shot with ease. Outside of still needing more weight, Bamba has all the tools you look for in a post prospect.
“Mo is an amazing player,” Westtown School coach Seth Berger told Scout. “He’s big. He’s tall. He’s long. He’s coordinated. The thing that is amazing about him is how smart he is. When Mo catches a roadblock, he steps back and says ‘hey this is what I need to do to get better’ and he goes out and does it.”
“His turnover count for a big this year was really high in the fall, now his turnover count is really low and now his effort and energy is between an eight and a nine. Last year it would be like a three then eight, four then seven. He’s so much more active.”
At this point, Bamba has put recruiting on the backburner, but the nation’s elite are involved. Georgetown, Harvard, Maryland and Villanova watched him this past weekend, while Duke was in to see him past week.
“I’m not really focused on it to be honest,” he said about recruiting.
Kentucky, Connecticut, Indiana and Syracuse are also heavily involved in Bamba’s recruitment.