Mohamed Bamba (born May 12, 1998) is an American professional basketball player for the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Texas Longhorns. He is highly regarded due to his 7 ft 10 in (2.39 m) wingspan. He attended Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania and was considered one of the top high school prospects of the class of 2017. Bamba was born on May 12, 1998 in Harlem, New York to Lancine Bamba and Aminata Bamba, who both emigrated from the Ivory Coast. Bamba’s grandparents were born and brought up in Mali. His older brother, Sidiki Johnson, played college basketball at Arizona, Providence, and Wabash Valley. Another member of his family, estranged half-brother Ibrahim Johnson, also played college basketball at multiple universities, including both Farmingdale State and Montevallo, Bamba first became interested in basketball at age six, inspired by the game’s popularity in his hometown. In eighth and ninth grade, Bamba attended Cardigan Mountain School, an all-boys boarding school in Canaan, New Hampshire.Before his sophomore year, Bamba transferred to Westtown School in Westtown, Pennsylvania. As a junior he averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks per game. He played in the 2017 McDonald’s All American Game and the Nike Hoop Summit.
Bamba was rated as a five-star recruit and was ranked among the top recruits in his class. His final four schools were Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Michigan. Ultimately, Bamba chose to play for the University of Texas for his college career. Before playing a single game for Texas, his half-brother Ibrahim Johnson posted a 22-minute-long video on Facebook Live, talking about how there were some illegal benefits from a Michigan-based investor involved during the decision-making and that he was reporting the information to the NCAA. However, the NCAA reported that nothing involved there would ultimately affect Bamba’s eligibility for his freshman season. Bamba made his official college debut on November 10, 2017 against Northwestern State, recording 15 points and 8 rebounds in a blowout win that night. Eight days later, he recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a blowout win against Lipscomb. On December 30, Bamba recorded a season-high 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 blocks in a loss to Kansas. On New Year’s Day 2018, Bamba would record a then-season-high 16 rebounds with 10 points in a 74–70 overtime win over Iowa State. He would record a new career-high in points scored with 25 points scored with 15 rebounds in a 85–72 win over Ole Miss on January 27, 2018, five days after recording his previous high of 24 points in a win over Iowa State. On February 17, Bamba would record a new career-high of 18 rebounds with 10 points scored in a 77–66 win over #23 ranked Oklahoma, five days after tying his previous career-high of 16 rebounds with 16 points in a close 74–73 double overtime loss to Baylor. At the end of the regular season for Texas, Bamba was named a member of the Big 12’s All-Newcomer Team and All-Defensive Team, as well as be named a member of the All-Big 12 Second Team.
Following Texas’s loss in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to Nevada, Bamba announced his intention to forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, where he was expected to be a lottery selection. At the 2018 NBA combine, Bamba measured near 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and measured a 7 ft 10 in (2.39 m) wingspan, breaking the record that was previously held by current Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. At a private workout, Bamba reportedly ran faster than most of the NBA, including MVP Russell Westbrook, since he had a 3.04 3/4 court sprint. Bamba refused to work out with the Memphis Grizzlies before the draft, and told them not to draft him. On June 21, 2018, Bamba was selected with the sixth overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2018 NBA draft. On July 3, 2018, Bamba officially signed a rookie scale contract with the Magic.