News from Cardigan

NBA’s Orlando Magic Select Mo Bamba ’14 with Sixth Pick
Date: 06/22/2018

Mo Bamba at CardiganBy Chris Adams, Director of Communications & Marketing

Mohamed “Mo” Bamba ’14 was introduced at the Barclay’s Center last night with his parents, Lancine and Aminata. Meanwhile in Canaan, NH, several Cardigan faculty and staff members settled into a classroom to watch the draft on television. It didn’t take long for the celebration to begin in either place. Only an hour into the draft, the Orlando Magic selected Mo with the sixth pick.

Video: Watch "Mo Bamba '14: A Cardigan Story"

"We are elated to get Mo Bamba,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said. “We jumped through the roof when he was available and we look forward to a very bright future with Mo.”

The Magic were 25-57 last year and missed the NBA Playoffs for the sixth straight season. They have been looking for help on the defensive end of the floor, and they will get it with Mo. The seven-foot tall Bamba averaged 10.5 rebounds and almost 4 blocked shots per game at the University of Texas. Mo has been working on his offensive game too, spending the last several months refining his moves and retooling his shooting stroke with private coach Drew Hanlon.

Gallery: See photos of Mo Bamba '14 at Cardigan

“I really still can't really describe how I feel right now,” Bamba said. “It's just all that hard work, all the anticipation of this—it finally paid off.”

ESPN’s Mike Greenberg tweeted “Mo Bamba has the highest ceiling of any player in this class. Insane measurables. Off the charts intelligence. I love this pick. Could be an absolute steal at six.”

Mo Bamba ’14 Prepares for the NBA Draft
Originally posted June 12, 2018

Mo Bamba at CardiganIt could be as high as the Atlanta Hawks at number three. Or the Dallas Mavericks at five. Maybe the Bulls. There is even a rumor that the Boston Celtics might trade up to select Mohamed “Mo” Bamba '14.

Wherever he goes, his life will change next Thursday night, when basketball analysts predict Mo will be a top ten pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. However, one could make the case that his life really began to change when he made the conscious decision to leave the challenges of the inner city for the countryside of New Hampshire and the structured academics at Cardigan Mountain School.

Mo Bamba at CardiganMo grew up in Harlem, the son of Lancine and Aminata Bamba, who both emigrated to the U.S. from the Ivory Coast. Young Mo fell in love with basketball by age six, honing his game against his older brothers. By middle school, he was very much aware of the world around him, and he knew his best chance to succeed included getting out of the city. Bill Mitchell, former Associate Director of the Independent School Program at the Boys’ Club of New York, thought Cardigan would be a great fit for him.

“It took me two to three months to get into the swing of things and develop habits,” Mo says, recalling his early days.“But everywhere I’ve gone, thanks to Cardigan, has been kind of a breeze. I was able to get a college experience at the age of 14.”

Mo Bamba at CardiganUpon graduating from Cardigan in 2014, Mo attended Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. After Westtown, his unique abilities, both in the classroom and on the court, put Mo in an elite class of college basketball prospects. He had offers to attend Harvard, Duke, and Michigan, but ultimately decided to play for Coach Shaka Smart at the University of Texas. 

"He is just so mature," Smart said. "He has lot of interpersonal skills that most people at that age don't have…The first thing Mo will do if you're with him, he'll ask how you’re doing, ask about your family. He has a real way about him where he demonstrates that he cares. He's got these amazing gifts as a person. But the exciting thing is he can still grow in so many ways, and he's far from being a finished product.”

Mo Bamba at CardiganAll along the way, Mo has also impressed off the court: ESPN Analyst Jay Bilas said he’s “incredibly smart. He’s not just a basketball player.” Henry McKenna from the describes him as “the most polished youngster (in the draft.)”

Perhaps this quote from CBS Sports best sums up what we know about Mo: “The stunningly mature Bamba aced the interviews; when plenty of players were dragging from one interview to the next in sweatpants and a lack of preparation, Bamba wore a suit and came prepared to answer specific questions about each team…Nobody doubts his brain.”

The Cardigan Community will be tuned into NBA Draft coverage (June 21 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN) to see where Mo will be going, but we all know it’s only the next step in a journey he began several years ago. We’re already excited to see what he does after his basketball career is over.
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