It truly is the year of the big man in College Basketball. Multiple talented freshman centers stocked the high school recruiting rankings this past off-season. If we've learned anything from the past, whenever an elite freshman big is up for grabs, Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns are always in the conversation.

Such was the case with Mohamed Bamba, who is the next man up in a long line of elite centers to pass through Austin over the years. Although he was sought after by the likes of Kentucky, Duke, and Michigan, Bamba decided to join the Texas squad after seeing the success they had with former players Miles Turner and Jarrett Allen.

He's a big get for the Horns, as they hope to return to basketball relevance and finally dethrone Kansas as the kings of the Big 12 Conference. A look at Texas's upcoming season and an examination of Bamba's talents show why he is considered one of college basketball's best.

What's in store for 2017-2018?

While 2016-2017 did see Shaka Smart bring in his first big-name recruit as the head coach at Texas, the season fell dramatically short of expectations. Jarrett Allen was a star, but the rest of the Texas team couldn't seem to recapture the magic from their previous season, which featured signature wins against two final four teams (Oklahoma and North Carolina).

The loss of key players like Prince Ibeh and Isaiah Taylor hurt, but the suspension of leading scorer, Tevin Mack, and point guard, Kerwin Roach, set the Longhorns back tremendously.

Mack eventually left the program and Allen entered the draft after a disappointing 11-22 season. 2017-2018 provides Texas with a fresh start, and the Longhorns look to take advantage of that.

Along with Bamba, Smart brings in an elite point guard recruit in Matt Coleman and a solid forward in Jericho Sims. Smart actually lured Coleman away from both Duke and Kentucky, a feat many coaches fail to accomplish.

The Longhorns return Andrew Young, Roach, and Eric Davis, Jr., which gives them the perfect balance of young talent and veteran experience. Bamba is the centerpiece of their attack.

The freshman center put together an impressive first game, putting up 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, and 1 steal. It's just one game, but Bamba made a strong statement in that win.

He's a force to be reckoned with. If he can continue to play that well and mesh with Coleman and the vets, there is no reason why Texas can't challenge the Jayhawks for the Big 12 title. It looks to be an exciting season in Austin.


Bamba is an athletic big man with incredible length. He stands 7'0" with an enormous 7'10" wingspan and massive hands. With that size and length, he's a natural defender and rebounder. Bamba rebounds almost everything he gets a hand on. As a defender, he's incredibly athletic. His reach allows him to block shots most centers couldn't dream of reaching. With that blocking ability comes good decision making on defense. Bamba only leaves his feet when necessary and rarely gets drawn into bad fouls when players throw their bodies at him.

On offense, he's a power player, although he does have a nice touch with his left hand. He's decently consistent from mid-range, but can easily clean up his own misses if he has an off night. He has good body control and good energy. Bamba will continue to bring intensity even when he isn't heavily involved in the offense. Most importantly, he knows his limitations and works to improve in those areas.


While he can score, Bamba has minimal offensive skills. Most of his points off of simple catch and finish opportunities. This often removes him from continuous involvement in the offense. His post game is very basic. He's shown flashes of a potentially deadly face-up game, but he has a long way to go until he can be considered a stretch big man.

Because of his minimal use of post moves, he lacks muscle memory on his hook shots, causing him to miss a lot of easy inside opportunities.

Defenses often recognize this and look to take advantage. With limited post skills, Bamba doesn't handle double teams very well, often turning the ball over or forcing bad shots. In addition to getting stronger, Bamba needs to work on his feel for the game. He's capable of putting the ball on the floor in the post, but rarely makes progress when he does. A better understanding of the game will allow him to better size up opponents and use their weaknesses to his advantage.

Overall Analysis

Bamba possesses incredible physical tools. He has a very raw skill set that, while limited, has potential to develop nicely on both ends of the floor.

Even though he is far from fully developed, his presence is felt when he is on the floor, even if that is just by grabbing rebounds. He draws comparisons to Marcus Camby and DeAndre Jordan. It's likely that Bamba will follow his predecessors and leave Texas after just one year, as he is projected to be the number 4 pick. Until then, he will continue to develop at Texas as one of college basketball's best.