TJ Bamba plans transfer to Villanova, views as step to NBA
Former Washington State guard TJ Bamba, one of the top college basketball transfers this spring, has committed to play at Villanova next season, he told ESPN on Friday.
Bamba said he picked Villanova over a host of schools including Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia Tech, Auburn, North Carolina and St. John’s.
“This gives me the best chance to reach my ultimate goal of playing in the NBA,” Bamba said. “Players in my mold like Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo have gotten drafted from Villanova and proven to be valuable pieces. My hope is to follow in their footsteps.”
Bamba averaged 15.8 points in 32.2 minutes for Washington State last season, shooting 37.2% from 3, and was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Bamba, who is from the Bronx, will return to the East Coast, where he played at a KIPP high school in New York before moving to Colorado for his final two years of high school and eventually landing in Pullman, Washington.
“Playing in front of family more often played a major role in my decision,” Bamba said. “I look forward to embracing the Villanova Way and the battles that the Big East is known for. I know there will be an adjustment playing for a new coach and with new teammates, but the adjustment is easier when we all know mutual people, we all know how to play high level basketball, and we all have a common goal of winning.”
Bamba will attempt to help Villanova return to prominence after the Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament for just the second time since 2005 in the debut season of coach Kyle Neptune.
On Thursday, Villanova hired former Quinnipiac coach Baker Dunleavy as its general manager, a new position focused on name, image and likeness deals, the transfer portal, marketing, and fundraising for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
“My goals for next season are to help lead Villanova back to dominance,” Bamba said. “I’d like to win a Big East title and make a deep tournament run in March.
“My personal goal is to prove I am worthy of being picked in the 2024 draft as well as some of my future teammates. If we are winning as a group, we all will win as individuals.”
Bamba is currently testing the NBA draft waters and said he is “serious about the process this year.”
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.