Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
HAMPTON, Va.—Day 2 of the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL)’s first stop featured 17U and 16U action on the eight courts at Boo Williams Sportsplex, with games going from 8 AM until well after dark.
Here’s a short notebook from the early portion of the action on Saturday, April 11:
Bamba continues to impress
Playing with the PSA Cardinals’ (NY) 16U squad, Westtown (Pa.) center Mohamed Bamba showed why his stock has soared to high-major territory with an impressive performance in a win over The Family (Mich.).
The 6-11 forward with an impressive wingspan is more than just a physical specimen, as he showcased his 3-point shooting, shot blocking and even his ability to put the ball on the floor once or twice in the open court. A very good athlete who plays above the rim on both ends as well as a solid student, the well-spoken Bamba has an incredibly high ceiling.
His recruitment went through the roof in his first year at Westtown as well. His first offer, from James Madison, came in August; as of this weekend, he’s added Yale, Penn State, Temple, Seton Hall, Rice, Texas, Villanova and Maryland to that list.
However, he’s yet to visit any college campus, even the local schools, saying “my recruitment is open, very open.”
As a member of the Class of 2017, Bamba’s ability to communicate with college coaches is still very limited, and as such he said he’s still getting to know the coaches who are recruiting him. He’ll be able to call and text them in June, per NCAA rules.
Westtown has one player on Maryland’s roster already in freshman wing Jared Nickens, but according to Bamba, Nickens isn’t trying to recruit him to the school; instead, he said, he’s just been supporting him and telling him to play hard.
“It’s a developing relationship,” Bamba said. “I look at him as an older brother, because he’s an alum.”
Bamba helped the Moose to the Friends’ School League title with a win over Germantown Friends, but they weren’t able to finish out the year on a positive note, losing to Phelps School in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools’ (PAISAA) championship.
“My first year at Westtown was pretty successful, now that we look back on it,” he said. “A week after the season was over and we didn’t win states, we looked at it as a huge failure, but in reality it was a successful season.”
With Bamba’s well-rounded skillset already showing, the next two years have to be about refining those skills but most importantly gaining weight. He currently weighs in just a shade over 200, but he’s easily got room for another 30-40 pounds on his lanky frame--and he might not be done growing.
--Watched both Team Final 17s and 16s pick up wins--17s over Spiece Indy Heat (Ind.), 77-54, while the 16s survived All-Ohio Red, 71-66--but as of this posting no box scores were available for the games. A few standouts:
Tony Carr (2016/Roman Catholic) and Lamar Stevens (2016/Roman Catholic) continued outstanding starts to their live period; Carr knocked down a few outside shots and Stevens has been an absolute force of energy in the two wins. Carr also found his soon-to-be high school teammate for three alley-oops in the big win. Dylan Painter (2016/Hershey) looked like he's adjusting to the EYBL, playing a little more physical than he did the night before and knocking down another 3-point shot to boot.
The 16U game featured a strong game from D'Andre Vilmar (2017/Roman Catholic), who was all over the place with his high motor, knocking down a few jumpers to boot. Nick Alikakos (2017/Episcopal Academy) played well in his return from mono, though it's clear he's still far from having all of his energy back. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (2017/Neumann-Goretti) was active around the rim, and in the second half Cameron Reddish (2018/Haverford School) finally turned it up and started knocking down shots.
—Spiece Indy Heat (Ind.) wing Kyle Mallers (2016/Carrol) played well in a loss to Team Final, knocking down a few pull-up jumpers in transition and one or two from beyond the arc. The 6-7, 205-pound small forward currently has offers from Ole Miss, Central Michigan, Ball State, Indiana State and Toledo, with further interest from Illinois State (visit), Ohio University, Davidson and Richmond; Indiana also joined in, calling him a few days ago.
“They like how I can shoot the ball, spread the floor with my height,” he said of his various suitors. “We have a taller team here than my high school team, so I have more liberty to go around the perimeter.”
The Ole Miss offer, his first from a high-major, came on a visit just a few weeks ago, and it's certainly inspired him heading into a big summer.
“I felt like I needed to work harder because I want to get more of those," he said, adding he has no timeline on his recruitment: "I’m keeping options open, seeing how many looks I can get this summer and we’ll see."
—Logan Hill (2017/Massillon Jackson) was impressive in a loss to Team Final’s 16Us, playing down low after big man Kaleb Wesson (2017/Westerville) picked up two early fouls. The 6-5 wing, 210-pound wing didn’t back down against Team Final’s bigs despite giving up a few inches to both Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (2017/Neumann-Goretti) and Brennan Jackson (2015/Harrisburg), and it’s that ability to play both inside and out that has schools showing interest.
“I’ve been about this height…since 7th, 8th grade,” he said. “I was always a post player, so I’ve been working on my ball-handling and shooting. With the team we have now, all the size we have now, I’m a wing player on the outside.”
“[It] gives me two parts to my game, it really helps me out,” he added.
So far his recruitment is still in its early stages, as he said he’s been getting some letters from West Virginia, Xavier and Akron, and had been to some camps at those schools. But with his ability to knock down outside shots and play tough inside, combined with his academics (he’ll be taking AP classes as a junior), expect that to pick up soon if he continues to play like he did today.