The other day at the Acme, some random guy walked up to my wife. She is the most beautiful woman in the world, so this has happened before. She was wearing a Westtown sweatshirt that did not say basketball anywhere, but this guy asked Christelle a question that she keeps getting asked more and more these days.
“Westtown? Do you know where that Mo Bamba kid is going?”
My wife politely said no, but I wish she had called me on my cell, so I could have said:
“Yes, sir, I will tell you where he is going. I am the boys’ basketball coach there. But first, let me ask you some questions:
If your last name is Biancardi, Goodman, Zagoria, Daniels or Evans, will you release this information on Twitter? Yes, because it is your job to be first with this information.
If your last name is Beilein, Calipari, Krzyzewski, Smart (in alphabetical order, before you start to run wild), will you celebrate with your staff if he commits to you? Of course, because your 2017–18 team just got a lot better.
If you are a fan of Texas, Duke, Kentucky or Michigan, and I say it’s your school, will you rush to buy season tickets? You should, because Mohamed is amazing to watch.
If you are a sports bettor, will you fly to Vegas to place a Final Four wager once I reveal the secret? You should, because any team Mohamed joins is immediately a national championship contender.
There is ridiculous drama every year that surrounds a small group of superior high school players who choose to take their time making a college decision. These kids want to commit late, like so many “normal” high school students.
A lot of kids apply to college in the regular applicant pool. They receive their acceptances in April and don’t have to decide where they are going until May. Why shouldn’t a high school superstar be allowed to go through the same process, without having everyone asking him all the time where is he going, every single day. Why should an 18-year-old kid have to change his cell phone number four times in a year, just to escape the madness?
The reason everyone keeps asking where Mo will go is—well—because he is an unbelievably special player. We all want to be witnesses to his odyssey. By knowing where he is going, you might even feel that you are with him on his journey.
The truth is, wherever he goes to college for one year will barely make a difference in his future as a pro, even though he has the chance to play for four amazing coaches. Mo does not need a minute of college basketball to be ready for the League. Mo will be the the first pick in the 2018 draft, but he would also be the top pick in the 2017 draft, if he could enter this spring.
Mo is the best shot blocker and rebounder I have ever seen in person, at any level. Mo also is supremely talented on the offensive end. In our league championship on Feb. 17 (we won, 96–72), Mo had 19 points, missing one shot all game. He made a 6’8” Division I big his personal poster with an opening drop step dunk, and also went 3 for 4 from three. There is nothing this kid cannot do on the court. Mo is also extremely intelligent, so much so that he qualified to go to Harvard with his grades and test scores.
I, too, am curious to watch Mohamed’s basketball career unfold. But that is not what truly interests me about him, or many of the best athletes in today’s world.
LeBron James currently has 34 million Twitter followers and 23 million Facebook friends. By the time Mo is 30, some new instant method of mass communication will have arrived, and our current President will at least be credited for changing the way our elected leaders campaign and communicate.
Mohamed will be entering the NBA when a number of forces in our world are aligning to allow athletes to be global leaders, at a time when more athletes are comfortable risking their personal brands to make controversial statements. If Mo gets the most out of what God gave him on the court, he will literally be able to change the world.
If Mo becomes one of the basketball immortals, his platform will be endless. He could tweet “America’s Constitution has been amended 27 times since our nation’s founding. Congress should amend it today to say that every newborn child in America has the right to health care, housing, food and a superior education.” Hundreds of millions of Mo’s followers would join his movement, our government would be forced to act and all American children would live in a better world.
“Commit to our school so we can win an NCAA title!” Book your trip to San Antonio for
2018 Final Four.
“Be An All-Star, so the Celtics (who will have the Nets’ first pick) can sell lots of tickets!” That's light work for this kid.
But, “Change The World, Mo. Change The World”. Now that is a lot of pressure on an 18-year-old kid. Mo could be the first person to win an NCAA title, an NBA championship and the race for leader of the free world.
Where is Mohamed going? He is going to the NBA, where superstardom awaits.
Where is he going to college? It doesn’t really matter. He will decide when he decides. Until then, please stop asking Mo where he is going, and please stop trying to get my wife’s number at the grocery store.
Seth Berger is the founder of AND1 and the head boy’s basketball coach at The Westtown (Pa.) School.