THANKS TO HIS 7-foot frame, insane 7'10" wingspan and a freshman season at Texas in which he swatted away everything near the rim, Mo Bamba is a unique physical specimen. His otherworldly build and defensive acumen have made him a top prospect, but as the June 21 draft approaches, the 20-year-old center is working hard to develop a new look.
The transformation requires a team of experts: skills trainer Drew Hanlen to fine-tune shooting mechanics and post moves; fitness guru Amoila Cesar to add strength; physical therapist Rory Cordial to prevent injuries; and personal chef Avery Pursell to fuel Bamba's engine. Bamba spends nearly eight hours a day, six days a week on his new regimen.
"Up until this point, he's been supertalented but hasn't got the results he's capable of," says Hanlen. "If he has the ability to score and make plays and improve his strength, he'll be supervaluable when you add in the defense he already brings to the table."
As a template for reshaping Bamba's game, Hanlen uses lessons learned from two of his other clients: the Celtics' Jayson Tatum for shooting mechanics and the 76ers' Joel Embiid for offensive playmaking, particularly off ball screens.
In the gym, Cesar's focus is to help Bamba bulk up and reach his goal of 230 to 235 pounds—he weighed 226 pounds with 6.2% body fat at the combine in May—while still improving agility and strength. Cesar emphasizes hip mobility (sidebar) and the eccentric phase of exercises (when muscles lengthen) so Bamba can pop off the ground more quickly.
It's all about building a better Bamba. Says Cesar, "If anyone was watching him throughout college, there is going to be a notable difference just by the way he looks."
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FIRE IT UP
Get your muscles going with these hip stretches from Bamba's trainer.
KNEELING HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Kneel on a mat. Extend opposite leg back and press instep of foot to the floor. Push hips forward to stretch.
FORWARD LEG HIP SWING
Hold on to a wall or pole. With one leg stationary, swing the other leg forward and back while maintaining posture and a taut core.
Lie on your left side. Bend right knee and pull right heel back, toward the glute. Draw belly button in toward spine.