Mohamed Bamba, Power Forward/Center, 2017, Harlem, NY 6' 11.5, 7' 8 wingspan, 196 lbs
Harlem-born, with Ivory Coast roots, big man Mohamed Bamba and his 7' 8 wingspan took scouts and media members by storm at the Nike Academy, as his mere physical profile made him the most intriguing long-term prospect at the camp.
With the size and length of most premiere NBA shot blockers and the potential (albeit raw) skill set to play as a stretch four down the road, Bamba is a tantalizing prospect that will be followed closely as he continues to develop both physically and skill-wise. Sporting a reported 9' 5 standing reach, Bamba already has the length to be an elite rim protector as his instincts and reaction time continue to improve. For perspective, Bamba's reported 9' 5 standing reach would be the 2nd highest measurement among NBA Combine invitees in the last five years, second to only Rudy Gobert (9' 7) and tied with Robert Upshaw.
It's not just Bamba's length that makes him so intriguing, however. Although he's still getting used to his long limbs, Bamba moves with very good fluidity as he's able to run the floor and spin effortlessly for a player his size. Bamba shows very nice touch and mechanics from the perimeter and is fairly comfortable handling the ball evident by his ability to grab a rebound on one end and push the ball in transition.
While the physical tools and potential skill set are tremendous, Bamba is still extremely raw on both ends of the floor. He doesn't have great fundamentals defensively and often leaves much to be desired in the reaction time/twitch and motor department.
Bamba also has a tendency to get down on himself and hang his head after mistakes, although that can be common for some players his age. Although he's only 196 pounds, Bamba plays with a level of toughness you don't usually see out of player as thin as he is. He's not afraid to mix it up on the interior and, although it only comes in spurts, has some edge to him that could be beneficial down the road.
Bamba is far from a polished prospect on both ends of the floor. How his body fills out will play a bit role in how he's able to mature as a prospect, as will the development of his skills and overall basketball instincts. Only time will tell what Bamba will turn into, but it wasn't tough to tell that he has as high of a ceiling as any player at the Nike Academy.
Jonathan Isaac, Small Forward/Power Forward, 2016, Bronx, NY, 6' 10, 7' 0 wingspan, 185 lbs
Jonathan Isaac is taking a page out of Anthony Davis' book (although clearly not even in the same stratosphere as a prospect) having developed all of his perimeter skills as a guard before shooting up a reported six inches to an impressive 6' 10, with a 7' 0 wingspan. The 2016 versatile forward was one of the most intriguing long-term prospects at the Nike Academy given his combination of size, fluidity and polished offensive skills rare for a 6' 10 player.
Isaac moves around the court like a wing, allowing him to guard multiple positions on defense and attack from the perimeter on offense. Although the Bronx, NY native played mostly on the interior out of necessity, he projects as a big combo forward who can both put it on the deck and make shots from the perimeter, sporting a smooth, mechanically sound shooting stroke.
At 185 pounds, Isaac has a very thin upper body and small hands to go along with just a decent wingspan, but he does have some room to add weight on his frame, however, and actually sports a fairly solid base considering how thin he is. Isaac is far from a finished product from a physical standpoint, but he has a very advanced skill level to go along with outstanding size and fluidity, making him a unique prospect worth tracking as he continues to develop.
His academics will have to improve reportedly to become college-eligible, which is the reason he transferred to IMG Academy, where he will also receive some very high level coaching.
Robert Williams, Power Forward, 2016, Vivian, LA, 6' 8.5, 7' 4 wingspan, 208 lbs
2016 power forward Robert Williams stood out amongst a group of 54 highly touted high school stars with his impressive blend of physical tools, shot blocking ability and shooting touch with range out to three. Sporting an extremely impressive frame, big hands and a 7' 4 wingspan, the Vivian, LA native proved to be a menace on the defensive end as he altered shots both at the rim and on the perimeter. Although the sample size isn't great, it's no surprise that Williams led the EYBL in blocks per 40 minutes with 9.41, nearly three blocks more than second place. Williams' shot blocking ability paired with his shooting potential makes him very valuable in a basketball world where rim protection and three-point shooting is a highly sought after combination. He has good timing, is quick off of his feet, and shows sharp instincts on the defensive end.
On the flip side, Williams is a bit undersized for the power forward position and can play with a more consistent motor overall, but given his long arms, big hands and tremendous frame, he may have another inch or two left in him before reaching his peak physically. Williams was far from the highest-ranked prospect at the Nike Academy, but his long-term potential as an athletic shot-blocking four who can shoot it from the perimeter makes him a very intriguing prospect.