NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16: Mohamed Bamba #4 of the Texas Longhorns looks on against the Nevada Wolf Pack during the game in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Texas Longhorns freshman center Mohamed Bamba is headed to the 2018 NBA draft on June 21. 

He announced (via The Fieldhouse’s Brian Hamilton) his intention to leave Texas after one season to turn pro Tuesday.

Bamba, 19, was always expected to be a one-and-done at the college level. The freshman averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game in the 2017-18 season, offering the Longhorns an elite rim-protecting force in the paint. 

That presence left his team 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency (94.1 points allowed per 100 possessions), per It wasn’t enough for the 10th-seeded Longhorns to advance past the first round of the men’s NCAA tournament, however, where they lost to No. 7 Nevada, 87-83, in overtime in the South Regional.

“The expectation was to win a national championship,” Bamba said after that defeat, per Alex Scarborough of “As it went on my freshman year, it kind of gave me a level of humility.”

While Bamba’s offensive game is raw and will need to be polished if he’s ever to become a true two-way threat in the NBA, his defense and rebounding already make him an intriguing prospect and a player who could be a top-five selection in Brooklyn, New York.

On March 13, B/R’s Jonathan Wasserman listed Bamba No. 5 overall in his mock draft, writing: “[Bamba] shoots 74.3 percent at the rim, giving his guards an enormous finishing target (30-of-31 on basket cuts) and clean-up man (1.328 PPP on putbacks).”    

And Gary Parrish of CBS Sports had him going No. 4 overall in his March 15 mock draft, noting:

“The 7-foot forward with a 7’9” wingspan alters nearly everything around the rim and projects, at worst, as a future First-Team All-Defense member. At best, he’ll develop enough offensively to join Golden State’s Kevin Durant on the list of one-and-done Texas alums who went on to become franchise-changing superstars.”

If Bamba can add a consistent jumper to his game, he could be like Joel Embiid. If not, he still has the upside to become a Rudy Gobert or Clint Capela. There are surely plenty of NBA teams excited by the prospect of getting the most out of that potential.