FORT MYERS, Fla. -- We’re closing in on the New Year, and the top two uncommitted prospects in the country have taken a combined three official visits and don’t seem to have a decision date in sight.
Mohamed Bamba (No. 4) and Trevon Duval (No. 5) are continuing to wait out the recruiting process -- and not only that, but the perceived leaders and/or schools involved with both players have changed consistently over the last several months.
Bamba hasn’t announced a top five and Duval didn’t name any leading teams until mid-November.
This has happened before. In the 2016 class, Josh Jackson kept people guessing until his April decision to attend Kansas. In 2015, Jaylen Brown surprised many with his May commitment to California. Elite players like Bamba, Duval, Jackson and Brown don’t need to rush to pick a school -- schools will generally be fine with waiting.
But the interesting thing about Bamba and Duval is, up until recently, coaches recruiting those players seemed relatively in the dark on where either would end up.
After speaking to several sources over the last few days, Duke seems like the leader for Duval. The Blue Devils didn’t get involved with Duval until the fall, but they offered the elite point guard in late November and have zeroed in on him as their primary backcourt target in 2017. Mike Krzyzewski has wanted a point guard in the senior class, and Duval is the latest name at the top of their board. Krzyzewski and assistant coaches Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer attended Duval’s game on Friday at the City of Palms Classic.
“They need a point guard and hopefully I can come in next year and be that,” Duval said. “If I was to go there, I think I would fit perfectly. Because I can see that they need a point guard.”
Duval, who is now at IMG Academy (Florida) after spending last season at Advanced Prep International (Texas), has taken just one official visit so far, to Kansas for Late Night at the Phog. Arizona, Seton Hall and Baylor are also in his top five. The Wildcats have picked up momentum lately, but they already have a point guard in 2017 (No. 94 Alex Barcello) and Sean Miller generally doesn’t take multiple players at the same position in the same class.
Before the Duke push, it was nearly impossible to get a good read on Duval’s leanings.
“Keeping my circle tight with that type of stuff,” Duval said. “Just keeping it between me and my dad. That’s really the only person I talk to about recruitment. That’s how it stays in. My dad isn’t going to tell anyone.”
Bamba, the elite center from New York who plays at Westtown School (Pennsylvania), has been quiet about his recruitment lately. Early on, it looked like Duke and Kentucky were the frontrunners and he would be the focus of yet another Krzyzewski vs. John Calipari recruiting battle. Yet his first two official visits were to Michigan and Texas, with unofficial trips to Harvard and Kentucky in between. Bamba is in the process of setting up official visits to Duke and Kentucky.
He spoke over the weekend about his trips to Austin and Ann Arbor.
On Texas: “The family loved it. It’s a very big university. I think we were able to, in 48 hours, see how I would look as a potential student-athlete there.”
On Michigan: “That was my first official visit, so that kind of set the tone. 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.”
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.
Things might be settling down a bit with Duval, but they're just picking up with Bamba. In both cases, though, we’re likely in for a long four months until a decision.