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Mali center Oumar Ballo orally commits to Gonzaga

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 23, 2019, 9:36 p.m.

Gonzaga’s next recruiting class keeps getting bigger in numbers and size.

Oumar Ballo, a 6-foot-10, 260-pounder from Mali, orally committed to the Zags on Saturday night shortly before the start of the Gonzaga-BYU game, according to a source. Ballo visited campus earlier this week and watched Thursday’s victory over Pepperdine. He left Spokane early Friday.

“It has been really nice to see the fans and to see the players and to see how the team is motivated and everything,” Ballo said.

Gonzaga had been considered the front-runner for Ballo, who reportedly has a 7-6 wingspan. Arizona and Baylor were among the other programs interested in Ballo.

Ballo is approximately 16 1/2 years old, but he plans on reclassifying to the 2019 class. He’ll reportedly enroll at Gonzaga for summer school.

“I want to play in college as soon as I can, so that is why I want to reclassify to 2019 … if you have a chance to play at a high level, I think it’s really cool. You can make your dreams come true, you know?” Ballo said.

Ballo put up big numbers at the FIBA U-17 World Cup last summer, averaging 21 points and 17 rebounds.

Ballo joins three other big men in the incoming class: Gonzaga Prep’s Anton Watson; Drew Timme, from Richardson, Texas; and 6-10 Russian native Pavel Zakharov, who plays for Montverde (Florida) Academy’s Center for Basketball Development (CBD) team.

GU’s incoming class also includes Kittitas guard Brock Ravet and Lithuanian wing Martynas Arlauskas.

Ballo and Zakharov recently attended the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, held during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Zags could need to replenish a significant portion of their frontcourt, with juniors Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Killian Tillie all considered potential NBA draft candidates.

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