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Prospect watch: Tracking Mo Bamba’s fit in the lottery

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It’s a big man’s world this draft season.

Duke University v University of Texas Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

It’s finals week at Prospect Watch! Well. Not for PW, but college players everywhere lock down this week to try and ace some finals, solidifying eligibility for the rest of their season.

(Dear God, thank you for never making me take another final again. Ever.)

What this means for us is a light game schedule with little in terms of premiere matchups. But that’s okay. Once we push through the holiday season, we’ll have a jam-packed lineup of fun games to keep an eye on.

But for now, we’ll mine out a couple players to watch, both prospects the Mavericks should want on their roster and players they should hope rise up draft boards so that a guy like Dennis Smith Jr. can fall to them. And then we’ll throw in a couple players Rick, Donnie and Cuban will be considering in the second round.

The Mavericks have a brutal week of basketball up ahead, so if you find yourself needing an escape, find solace here and dream of the future. On to the games!


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12TH

Texas vs Michigan (8 CT, ESPN2)

Tonight in Austin we’ll get the battle of the “Mo”s, as Mohamed Bamba and Moritz Wagner lead their respective schools down in Austin.

With other players near the top of draft boards putting up eye-popping scoring numbers on a nightly basis, sometimes it feels like Bamba has faded to the background. But his potential hasn’t. It’s a small sample size, but per-36 minutes this season, Bamba is putting up 13.8 points, 13 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 5.1 BLOCKS. In six of the seven games he’s played, he’s had at least four blocks.

(*Fun Fact: Only one NBA center is averaging over 5 blocks per-48 minutes this season...Salah Mejri.)

To be sure, Bamba may need more time to develop offensively than other lottery talent. But his ability as a defensive anchor and rebounder is already there.

The other Mo, Moritz Wagner, made a name for himself late last spring in the conference and NCAA tournaments as a stretch five with NBA potential. He toyed with entering the draft alongside fellow sophomore teammate D.J. Wilson (drafted in mid first round) last summer, but ultimately decided to return to school. This season he’s taken on a bigger role and has remained productive for the Wolverines. If he builds on that, he’s a player to keep an eye on for second-round possibilities.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16TH

Kentucky vs Virginia Tech (1 CT, ESPN2)

There’s a possibility that the Mavs surprise enough teams on off nights this season and end up picking closer to where they were last summer, near the back of the top ten. If they do, Kevin Knox is someone they should heavily consider. Knox is the exact kind of combo forward that teams covet right now. He can play both forward positions, has a nice blend of size and athleticism, and he’s emerged as the leader for this Kentucky Wildcats squad.

Citi Hoops Classic - Kentucky v Monmouth Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Additionally, if only for highlight plays, keep track of Hamidou Diallo. He can literally jump through the roof of Rupp Arena, is a capable defensive wing, and if he can continue to hone his ball handling and outside jumper, he’s a player that will be floating around the late lottery.

Oklahoma at Wichita State (3 CT, ESPN2)

After you watch Knox and Diallo, put off your holiday shopping a little bit longer and watch the most exciting perimeter player in college basketball right now. Trae Young, the freshman point guard out of Oklahoma, was one of the ignored McDonald’s All-American’s in draft discussions. Now eight games in to the season, he’s exploded into every prospect conversation across the country.

He leads the nation in scoring with 28.8 points per game (nearly 3.5 points more than the next player on the list), is third in assists at 8.8 per game, and is shooting close to 38-percent from deep.

Now, do the Mavericks need another small, ball-dominant point guard? Absolutely not. But I mention him for two reasons: 1) he’s a blast to watch, and 2) he’s the sort of player you want shooting up draft boards. This draft class has little guard talent up top, and for the Mavericks to be sure they get a lot of options at other positions, they need a guy like Young to dominate.

**Bonus Game** MONDAY, DECEMBER 18TH

SMU vs Boise State (8 CT, ESPNU)

Outside of having an awesome nickname, SMU junior guard Shake Milton is a player worth tracking this season. Depending on what the Mavericks do long term with Wesley Matthews and Seth Curry, they still need to solidify the future of the shooting guard position.

Possessing solid size and length (6’6, 205 pounds, and a reported 6’11 wingspan) for the off-guard position, Milton is an ideal ball stopper to pair alongside a ball dominant guard.

Chandler Hutchison is the name to track on the other side of the ball. The 6’7 senior wing has started games every season for the Broncos, but really came in to his own last year. He has size and potential range from the guard or small forward spot, and does a little bit of everything for Boise State.

These aren’t players that need to be on your weekly radar, but it’s good to check in from time to time. With the success the Mavericks have had over the last two seasons with second round or undrafted players, that trend shouldn’t stop any time soon.


The eyes of Prospect Watch are constantly open in search of your next favorite Dallas Maverick. Who do you got? Let us know in the comments below!