Recruiting Notebook: Who leads for Mo Bamba?

Dylan Burkhardt

Mo Bamba is the unquestioned top prospect on Michigan’s recruiting board. The five-star center would be the crowning jewel of the the Wolverines’ 2017 class.

He also rarely discusses his recruitment in the media and has kept pundits guessing what he’s going to do. Bamba has only taken two official visits — to Michigan and Texas — and is eyeing taking additional trips to Kentucky and Duke.

He discussed his recruitment at the City of Palms with ESPN this week. John Beilein and Texas head coach Shaka Smar were both in attendance watching him at the event.

Here’s what Bamba had to say on Michigan.

“That was my first official visit, so that kind of set the tone,” Bamba told ESPN. “Obviously Michigan is probably one of the greatest universities in the world and it’s set to such a high standard, as far as academically and athletically. They do things the right way.”

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello continued on to speculate about who might be among the top choices for Bamba:

According to multiple sources is the Wolverines and Longhorns have the edge in his recruitment, and John Beilein and Shaka Smart were both at his game on Sunday at City of Palms.

College coaches involved in his recruitment don’t think the leaders are set in stone, though.

“Speculate anything on Mo and you might be right,” one coach said.

Like Duval, it’s been difficult to get concrete info on Bamba’s recruitment — because he simply doesn’t talk to many people about it.

“He likes to keep to himself,” a source close to Bamba said.

One thing Bamba and Duval have in common is some of the questions surrounding whether they’re indeed college-bound. It hasn’t been a secret for Duval, given his time at API and potential NCAA issues. He insists he’s definitely going to college, though. The whispers around Bamba began only recently, but it does appear there’s a slight chance he doesn’t play in college next season.

There’s a long way to go in this one, but it continues to be the one recruitment to track closely.

Bamba is averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season with Westtown and he’s posted a 67 eFG%.

He scored 6 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in a showdown with five-star big man DeAndre Ayton. On the positive side of the ledger, he held Ayton to just 4-of-17 shooting as Westtown came away with a 53-42 win.

Jordan Poole shooting well

Jordan Poole has a well-established reputation as a shooter, but he hasn’t always been the most efficient perimeter shooter.

That hasn’t been a problem for Poole after transferring to La Lumiere. Playing for one of the best teams in the country, Poole has been on fire from three-point range.

He’s 31-of-65 on the season from three-point range and boasts a 69 eFG%, averaging 15 points, 3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Via our friends at Krossover, here’s Poole’s season shot chart to date.


Isaiah Livers off to good start

Isaiah Livers has elevated his game early on this season. The Michigan commitment has been playing well with Kalamazoo Central this winter.

Livers scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked five shots in the Horatio Williams Tip-Off Classic earlier this month.

Endless Motor was very impressed with his performance:

Simply put, this is the best I’ve ever seen Isaiah Livers on a basketball court. His improvement in terms of ballhandling was quite evident early on, as he was able to create separation against defenders with change of direction dribbles in a way that he has not displayed on prior occasions. The 6’8 wing consistently knocked down contested midrange jumpers off the bounce using his verticality and tremendous length. Livers was extremely impressive in transition as well, using a nifty behind the back dribble to blow past a defender before showing great body control when finishing on an up under scoop layup with nasty english on it. Isaiah’s impact was not limited to offense, and he tallied 5 blocks that saw him chase down defenders in transition, provide helpside shotblocking, and perfectly timed blocks when defending in one on one situations.

Michigan Preps was also impressed:

The 6-8 Michigan commit dominated against Detroit Western, scoring 23 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and blocking four shots. He also added a new highlight dunks. Livers was matched up with Western’s 6-7 Tray Jackson, who had the height to defend him, but the skill level difference was apparent. Livers dominated whenever he got the ball in the paint, and showed what he was able to do with the ball in his hands, hitting a couple of long-range jump shots.

Other notes

  • Cory

    Michigan leads.

  • gobluemd16

    Kind of didn’t want to hear that Bamba news because now I am legitimately optimistic and have expectations, but this is obviously a good thing. If it really did come down to Texas and us, I mean how could he not pick us? Texas has not been very good under Shaka and our academics are definitely superior. However, he is a superior recruiter to Beilein, to be sure.

    • The other thing about Bamba is that he certainly keeps people guessing. He’ll make his own decision and probably won’t give people many hints.
      Remember, he kept the Michigan visit completely under wraps before he showed up on campus.

  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    Bamba posts some monster numbers. He could score over 100 points this season.

  • bobohle

    I would be ecstatic if M signed Bamba. Remember M was also the big favorite to sign Jaylen Brown last year.

  • AC1997

    Dylan – What’s your assessment of Bamba as a prospect? He’s a very highly rated guy, he’s a true center prospect, and he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. But his stats seem…..modest? Is that a nice way of putting it? Someone of that size seems like they could luck into 10 points just from put-backs.

    • He’s a game changer defensively, he finishes everything around the rim. He might not be a guy that you throw the ball into 20 times per game and let him post up, but he would transform a team from the inside out.

      Is he all there in terms of production? Eh, maybe not. But I think he would have such a huge effect on a roster like Michigan’s just from his rim protection, rebounding and finishing alone.

      He also plays on the same HS team as Brandon Rudolph and Cameron Reddish — two fairly shot happy guards, so that can effect his scoring averages.

      • AC1997

        He seems a bit like a young Epke Udoh – great athlete, great rim protector, can dunk the ball, but very raw everywhere else. That’s an intriguing type of player to match with a finesse guy like Wagner.

        • bobohle

          Udoh is the guy he reminded me of also. When McGary was at Brewster he also was surrounded by shot happy teammates so I wouldn’t worry about that so much.

        • Coltrane

          There is an interview out there where he talks about being tired of hearing about potential (as in he wants to realize it on the court). He also seems to think he can play multiple positions. If he’s willing to spend a couple of years with Beilein I think he could get a chance to develop into the non-traditional big he envisions. Then again, if he’s thinking about skipping college maybe this doesn’t really matter to him.

  • Cliff Pappe

    I had the chance to see Poole play last week and he loves to shoot. Doesn’t force it, but when he is open he isn’t afraid to shoot from deep.
    He’ll be a good replacement for Irvin and I imagine a similar role as a freshman. Come in the game and knock down some deep shots.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    This would be huge Michigan if he does sign…I can see Beilein developing his offense with time but the raw potential is there and he would be a boost in rim protecting, rebounding…