Tonight’s Jordan Brand Classic will be the final high school all-star game for Mohamed Bamba.
Once that concludes, Bamba will likely regroup with his family and look to hammer out a plan for his eventual commitment, which looks more and more like it will be to either Texas or Kentucky.
That’s what the latest update from Rivals.com suggests, though their experts made the case for all four schools still in contention, including Michigan and Duke. When it comes to Kentucky, here’s what they had to say about the Wildcats’ case for getting Bamba:
"Kentucky has a great chance at landing Mohamed Bamba because of John Calipari's track record with elite bigs. Arguably the three best bigs in the NBA - DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns - all went to Kentucky. All were top five picks in the NBA Draft with Davis and Towns playing in a Final Four and both selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft.
"Bamba may be as talented as all three of those players at this stage of his career and wouldn't it be the safest bet to follow the coach that molded all three? You can make a case that all three of those players or Bamba, if he goes elsewhere, could have done the same things at other schools. But it would be riskier to try and achieve that at Michigan and Texas. Calipari also has fewer misses than Duke.
"Even if Bam Adebayo returned, the two could play together, forming the best frontcourt in college basketball. Bamba truly can't go wrong, but if he wants a deep March run and to become a high draft pick, UK is the safest pick." - T.J. Walker, CatsIllustrated.com
And when it came down to the final verdict for where Bamba goes, Kentucky comes out on top, though no result should come as a surprise:
"One thing I've learned covering Bamba over the past three years is that his mind operates a little bit differently than the typical elite prospect. Because of that, I always have the thought that he could do something totally unexpected.
"However, as things wind down it does seem to be the general consensus that Kentucky and Texas have started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
"I see Texas selling what they did with Allen, but Bamba is a much different player than Allen was, so I'm not sure what worked for Allen is best for Bamba. At Kentucky, they've had several different styles of elite big men and Calipari seems to have a feel for how to rotate them. Also, his best teams have featured a true rim protector like Bamba.
"The Texas talk is growing daily, but as of today I still give Kentucky the edge." - Eric Bossi, Rivals.com National Basketball Analyst
It’s possible that Bamba makes his decision in the coming week, but I think he waits until into May, giving the coaches from these schools enough time to have one more in-home visit with him.
Bamba also probably wants to see what happens with these schools and who they have coming back. With Texas, they’ve already lost Jarrett Allen to the NBA Draft, and star guard Andrew Jones is still testing the waters. Bamba wants to have some semblance of a supporting cast wherever he goes, and it’s hard to see him having that at Texas if they lose both Allen and Jones.
At Kentucky, it looks a lot thinner in the frontcourt now that Isaac Humphries is off the pros, and we still haven’t heard if former five-star forward Sacha Killeya-Jones is staying. There have been rumors all season that he could transfer, but it appears he’ll be staying.
And while Bamba and Bam could certainly play together, it’s still hard to see that coming to fruition. They both want to be face-up 4s, but if both are back, one of them has to be a 5 next season.
I’m still not expecting a decision from Bamba this month, but as the experts keep saying, nothing should surprise us with what he does.
In the meantime, here are some highlights of Bamba going against DeAndre Ayton this week: