No. 2 recruit in nation Mohamed Bamba picks Texas over Kentucky and Duke
Longhorns coach Shaka Smart pulls a stunner by beating John Calipari and Coach K for the 7-footer
Bamba is the nation's No. 2 prospect, according to 247Sports.
"I've seen firsthand how much [Texas coach Shaka Smart] genuinely cares about me and my family," Bamba wrote for The Players' Tribune, "and how he's going to challenge me to be in a state of continuous improvement."
Smart coached Bamba with USA Basketball last summer.
Bamba, a 7-foot forward from New York, becomes the fifth top-100 prospect from the Class of 2017 to commit to Texas -- joining No. 47 Matt Coleman, No. 49 Jericho Sims, No. 85 Royce Hamm and No. 86 Jase Febres. The Longhorns' class now ranks fourth nationally, according to 247Sports. That means Smart has assembled back-to-back top-five recruiting classes.
Here are three things to know.
1. This is huge for Texas
I realize that kind of goes without saying. But Texas was never considered the leader to land Bamba. According to most recruiting analysts, he was likely headed to Kentucky. So this is big for the Longhorns and bad for the Wildcats. And now Texas has another one-and-done prospect to replace its most recent one-and-done prospect -- Jarrett Allen.
2. Yes, Bamba is probably a one-and-done guy
Bamba is a bright young man who seems to genuinely value education. But that isn't likely to keep him in Austin for more than a year considering DraftExpress projects him as the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Guys like that almost never become sophomores. So, sure, it's possible Bamba could be the exception, I guess. But make no mistake, he would have to be an exception.
3. Smart is set to have a breakthrough season
Smart is 15-21 in Big 12 games since taking over at Texas with one NCAA Tournament appearance and one last-place finish in the league. That's not awful. But it's also not great. So he needs a nice season to reignite the fanbase. And Bamba could be the key to doing that. Assuming Andrew Jones withdraws from the NBA Draft, and I think he will, UT should have the pieces to compete for a top-four finish in the Big 12. That would have Smart back in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in nine years as a head coach. And then that rough 2016-17 season would basically be forgotten.
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