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Kyle Smith lands second commitment in 2020 class as T.J. Bamba pledges to Washington State

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 25, 2019

Kyle Smith speaks to media during a news conference in Washington State University’s Rankich Club Room on Monday, April 1, 2019 in Pullman. Smith has taken over head coaching duties for the men’s basketball team. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Kyle Smith speaks to media during a news conference in Washington State University’s Rankich Club Room on Monday, April 1, 2019 in Pullman. Smith has taken over head coaching duties for the men’s basketball team. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Kyle Smith opened the week without a single commitment in the 2020 recruiting class, but the first-year Washington State men’s basketball coach will close it with at least two.

Three days after Australia’s Efe Abogidi committed to the Cougars, Smith got another pledge, this time from Denver guard Tijani “T.J.” Bamba.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Bamba announced his commitment to WSU on Twitter Friday, choosing the Cougars over McNeese State, Towson, Northern Colorado, University of Illinois-Chicago and Stony Brook. According to Verbal Commits, Bamba’s offer from Smith was his only from a Power Six school.

The website tabs Bamba as a two-star prospect. A potential combo guard who could switch between shooting guard and point guard, Bamba averaged 13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game last season while attending Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School.

Bamba, whose father is Senegalese, grew up in the Bronx, New York, and attended KIPP NYC College Prep School. He moved to Colorado with his mother and aunt to raise his profile as a high school prospect, according to the Arizona Republic.

“New York is a fast-paced game, get to basket and stuff like that, try to go early in the shot clock,” Bamba told the Arizona Republic while competing at the NCAA West Region Basketball Academy in Phoenix this summer. “Colorado is like more passing, slow-paced game. They try to get the best shot possible on every possession. There’s a difference in terms of speed.”

The Republic’s Dana Scott described Bamba as someone who “has a chiseled 200-pound frame and arsenal consisting of a smooth jump shot, power with finesse, his agile first step when controllably attacking the basket on offense, and defensive threat in opposing passing lanes.”

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