LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky entered college basketball’s spring signing period Wednesday as the presumed favorite to land Mohamed Bamba, a 6-foot-11 McDonald’s All-American ranked as high as No. 2 overall in the Class of 2017. But should the Wildcats be worried the longer Bamba drags out his decision?
“I just feel like it’s a weird one and I think we know less than we think we know,” said Jerry Meyer, 247Sports’ director of basketball scouting. “I would not be surprised at all if, say, he went to Texas.”
That would be a major recruiting upset for the Longhorns and coach Shaka Smart, who certainly need a player like Bamba after freshman center Jarrett Allen declared for the 2017 NBA Draft this week.
“He likes them,” Meyer said of Bamba. “He enjoyed his visit there from what I’ve heard. He kind of like Austin and the atmosphere there and how it’s kind of a different place. He likes the bigness and the academic component, the intellectual atmosphere there. The point is: Why not? I’m just saying it’s not a done deal for Kentucky by any means.”
Of note, however: Meyer has not changed his January prediction that Bamba will ultimately pick the Wildcats, who already have the No. 1-ranked class in the country, including seven top-100, six top-50 and five top-25 overall prospects pledged to UK. Bamba is rooming with future Cats point guard Quade Green this week at the Jordan Brand Classic.
“We make predictions on guys, but there’s levels of confidence that differ on each pick,” Meyer said. “Some players are easier to read and maybe their thought process is more transparent and perhaps more conventional. With Bamba, probably more opaque and less conventional.”
But sources tell SEC Country that confidence remains high in Lexington that Bamba will choose Kentucky over Texas and Duke, the other serious contender for his services. He does not appear in a hurry to announce his plans, however. The spring signing period doesn’t end until May 17, and Bamba can wait even later to decide if he wants.
“We’ve got some pieces we’re still missing,” UK signee P.J. Washington told ESPNU during its signing day special on Wednesday, “but I think this class is going to be special.”
Washington, Green and fellow future Cats Nick Richards and Jarred Vanderbilt are all with Bamba at the Jordan Brand Classic this week, same as they were at the recent McDonald’s All-American Game, where the Kentucky crew put on a full-court press to persuade Bamba.
One thing not factoring into his decision, per a source, is UK freshman Bam Adebayo’s NBA Draft uncertainty. Adebayo has not hired an agent and could still come back to school, but he and Bamba are different players who could certainly work together.
“He’s the best big guy in the class, an incredible rim protector,” Meyer said of Bamba, who has a ridiculous 7-foot-9 wingspan. “When is the last time Kentucky really had that?”
Not that long ago, as the Cats went from Anthony Davis to Nerlens Noel to Willie Cauley-Stein in a parade of elite shot blockers, but Kentucky hasn’t had an intimidating defensive presence in the paint the last two seasons. That might be about to change — unless, of course, Meyer is right and Texas pulls the stunner.