Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge are the highest-drafted Longhorns ever as both went No. 2 in the NBA Draft during 2006 and 2007.
If things go as planned, Texas coach Shaka Smart will shepherd another Texas player to the top draft of the NBA draft. Last week Smart saw his first-ever Longhorn recruit get drafted in the first round in Jarrett Allen.
Allen is likely just the begining for the Smart’s Longhorns going early in the draft.
In fact, most prognosticators are saying Texas will have a third player go No. 2 overall. In a player ranking list from Sports Illustrated, incoming Texas freshman Mohamed Bamba, the highest rated recruit since Durant to join Texas, is the second-highest ranked prospect in next year’s draft. The 7-foot, 207 pound Bamba has a 7-foot-9-inch wingspan and most are already penciling him as a possible elite NBA defensive player and rebounder roughly five months before he will play his first college basketball game.
Right in front of Bamba is the widely considered top 2017 recruit in Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr.– the 6-foot-10-inch forward who averaged 24 points per game as a high school senior.
Bamba is the only Longhorn on SI’s ranking. CBS’s Mock Draft, has Bamba going No. 3 overall, behind Porter and Slovenian prospect Luka Doncic.
Missing from both lists is Andrew Jones. After a solid freshman season, the former McDonald’s All-American from Dallas tested his draft value this past spring before returning to school. Jones is the No. 28 pick in the 2018 draft according to Draft Express while Bamba is No. 4.
Like Aldridge and Durant, Bamba is arriving at Texas with some help in the recruiting class. Durant joined D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Matt Hill and Dexter Pittman and more in 2006. In 2004, Aldridge, who missed most of his freshman season do to an injury, arrived at Texas with Daniel Gibson, Connor Atchley and 5-star recruit Mike Williams.
While Bamba is the only 5-star recruit of the 2017 Texas class, he joins four 4-star recruits (Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Royce Hamm and Jase Febres) on the roster this fall.
Currently, Texas doesn’t have any commitments for 2018, which isn’t uncommon this early in the cycle. Not a single player in the 2018 247 Sports composite rankings Top 10 has committed. Only one player ranked in the top 15 — Michael Porter Jr.’s brother Jontay Porter (committed to Missouri, of course, where his father Michael Porter Sr., is an assistant) — has committed. And only two of the top 20 are committed.