WESTFIELD, In. -- As the No. 2 overall prospect in the national Class of 2017, New York native and center Mohamed Bamba is drawing a ton of national attention.
The 6-foot-11 center finished up his junior season for Westtown School in Pennsylvania, and he's currently putting up big numbers with the PSA Cardinals in the Nike EYBL. Sporting a 7-foot-8 wingspan with a 9-foot-6 standing reach, Bamba is leading the EYBL in rebounding and is second in blocked shots as he's averaging 12.7 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game.
Now that he's a marked man, Bamba is trying to become a high-motor big man who has the skill level to do everything on the floor.
"Definitely, my whole entire demeanor, both offensively and defensively, has changed," Bamba said. "Everything is to lead our team in different ways. Whether its dive on the floor and grab the ball or block every shot, my whole demeanor has changed."
The change in Bamba came to light when he realized that he was being watched on every play by both college coaches and national talent evaluators who might put him at No. 1 in the class. His love for basketball shines through the most when talking about other players and how he wants to use their game to improve his own. Bamba has taken everything to heart the last few months as he tries to land the No. 1 spot.
"I don't think I'm playing the hardest I can play. You can always play harder. You can dive on the floor, you can always do something," Bamba said. "I think my whole demeanor has changed because I just love basketball. That's it."
Over the next few months, Bamba wants to add a couple of things to his game so that he is a force on both ends of the floor. While Bamba is shooting 68 percent from the field during EYBL games, he wants to improve his range.
"I want to add more physical strength and I want to add more of a jump shot," Bamba said. "If I get out there and knock down threes and knock down long twos consistently [my upside gets better]."
In terms of the recruiting process, Duke has stayed active with Bamba, as multiple Blue Devil assistants like Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer watched the PSA Cardinals compete in the EYBL during the live evaluation periods. The Blue Devils also came to Westtown to see Bamba work out a few weeks back and he's still weighing all of his future options.
"There's a lot of schools involved. I didn't really narrow down my list at all. Every school that has offered me is involved," Bamba said.
"By the end of August I want to get my list down to a top 10 and then research, build a relationship with coaches and hopefully pick my school. I'm doing as much research as possible."
Besides getting top-notch training in basketball, Bamba is also very focused on the academic side of things.
"I've mentioned this before, but I'm mentioned that a strong alumni base is really big for me," Bamba said. "Beyond basketball, you can step into any office and tell them, 'I'm a graduate of yada yada yada University' and it will raise eyebrows. And that's also a sense of pride, knowing, 'yeah, I graduated.'"
While it's still early in the recruiting process for Bamba, he has talked a little bit about joining forces with top-five Class of 2017 big man Wendell Carter. Both are considering Duke as individuals, but the duo could also potentially play together.
"We talk often. We're pretty cool. We also think about going to school together. It's still in the air though," Carter said of the potential duo playing together in college.
Bamba downplayed playing with Carter a little more than the Georgia native did, but he's still open to the possibility.
"We're talking about it, but it's not as close as most people think," Bamba said. "Wendell is my friend before basketball. Before I took a few trips, I really didn't know who he was as a kid. He's a great kid. He's a great basketball player."
Although some big men don't like the idea of playing next to another post player, Bamba embraces the chance to play with other talented big men, and wouldn't mind playing beside someone like Carter in college.
"I play alongside Deng Gak," Bamba said. "I love playing alongside other big men who can do other things besides play back to the basket."