5-Star Center Mohamed Bamba Commits to Texas over Duke, UK and Michigan

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2017

Jul 10, 2016; North Augusta, SC, USA; PSA Cardinals player Mohamed Bamba (11) after a play during the first half of the Nike Peach Jam Finals against the Mokan Elite at the Riverview Park Activity Center. Mokan won 93-65. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Mohamed Bamba, one of the most coveted players in the 2017 recruiting class, announced Thursday that he's planning to play college basketball at Texas.  

He posted word of his Longhorns choice on The Players' Tribune.

"Everybody's recruiting process is unique in some way, and mine was no different," Bamba wrote. "Watching my family grow and solidify its bond was by far my favorite part of the experience. The world is bigger than 94 by 50 feet, and we all agreed that Texas offers me an exceptional opportunity to blaze my own trail on the basketball front with the comfort of knowing that no matter what happens, I've got an unrivaled support network to lean on for whenever the ball stops bouncing.

"You can't put a price on that, but you can tie a lasso around it."

Bamba is a 5-star prospect who rates as the No. 2 overall recruit for 2017, according to the Scout player rankings. Texas coach Shaka Smart commented on Bamba's decision, via Scott Bell of the Dallas Morning News:

“I’m extremely excited that Mo has chosen Texas. He’s as unique a person and player as I’ve been around. Mo’s combination of talent, intellect and ability to impact others will make him a catalyst in our program and on our campus from day one.”

The Westtown School standout is already a high-quality defender, thanks to his terrific combination of size (6'11''), length and athleticism. He also has more quickness than is typical for a player with his lengthy frame, which helps on defense.

Ed Isaacson of 3PT Sports Management commented on the post player's seemingly limitless upside:

Ed Isaacson @EdKMGSports

Big fan of Mohamed Bamba. One of few guys where I’d really say I have no idea how good he can be. Looks better every time I see him

His offensive game is still a work in progress, though. He's reliable when he can get the ball around the rim, because he possesses a couple quick moves and can finish with authority. But his lack of raw strength at 215 pounds could be a problem at the collegiate level and beyond.

Adding muscle and weight will be a focus. But trying to completely change his body in a short period of time could cause him to lose some of the movement that makes him special.

He told Andrew Carter of the News & Observer in July that finding the program best matched to his game and development was crucial.

"It's very big for me," Bamba said. "Because when I was growing up as a basketball player, all I hear was the word 'potential'—potential, potential, potential. And after a while potential needs to turn into some kind of work, some kind of production."

It's hard to overstate how important a commitment this is for Smart and the Longhorns. Not only are they getting one of the best players available and somebody capable of making an instant impact, but beating out the likes of Duke and Kentucky is quite a statement.

Bamba should fit right in with a young, athletic Texas squad. In addition, he should be in line to take on an extensive role in the frontcourt right out of the gate with Jarrett Allen entering the 2017 NBA draft.