It appears Mo Bamba’s older brother has failed in his vengeful bid to prevent the five-star basketball recruit from playing for the University of Texas next season.
The NCAA correctly ruled Tuesday that Bamba’s relationship with Michigan-based investor Greer Love does not violate any rules.
The ruling arrived two weeks after Ibrahim Johnson alleged that Love had supplied Bamba with extra benefits in the form of cash and gifts in an attempt to worm his way into the prospect’s inner circle. Johnson outed his younger brother in a rambling, profanity-laden 22-minute Facebook Live video because he hoped to someday represent Bamba and he felt Love was getting between him and his meal ticket.
“He’s not going to play this year in the NCAA because I already reported him to the NCAA and I’m already going to meet with the NCAA,” said Johnson, a former basketball player at Division II University of Montevallo. “He’s not going to play this year. I’m not going to lie to you. I exposed that kid.”
What Johnson conveniently didn’t mention in his lengthy rant is that Love began serving as a mentor for Bamba long before he ever blossomed into a NBA hopeful. The relationship began in 2008 when Love drew on his experience as a tutor for athletes at Indiana University and started an after-school basketball program at the New York elementary school that Bamba attended.
“He had a passion for sports, a passion for kids and a passion for helping young people reach their dreams,” Susan Green, principal of Alain L. Locke Elementary School, told Yahoo Sports on June 29. “That’s what he put together, and we as a community are really appreciative of those efforts.”
The NCAA ruled that Love’s gifts did not violate rules because their relationship predated Bamba’s emergence as a college prospect.
“Although the mentoring program had both an academic and athletics purpose, their relationship was not established based on the [student-athlete’s] ability or reputation as an athlete,” the NCAA’s decision reads.
“Further, the pattern of communication between the SA and Mr. Love has been continuous and the benefits provided to the SA have been consistent since the establishment of their relationship. In addition, Mr. Love has a consistent, established pattern of providing comparable benefits to other individuals (and family of individuals) who were also a part of the mentoring program and most of which are pursuing nonathletic career paths/opportunities”
Green corroborated that account in her June 29 interview with Yahoo Sports. She said that Love has remained close to many of his former players, attending several of their high school graduations and organizing dinners and reunions whenever he returned to New York.
“When I run into the boys in the neighborhood, they all talk about Greer,” Green said. “As far as I know, he has maintained a relationship with a lot of the boys. I can name three of them off the top of my head without blinking an eye.”
Love previously declined comment to Yahoo Sports. He did not immediately respond to an email seeking his response to Tuesday’s ruling.
Having Bamba eligible is very good news for a Texas program that badly needs him.
A consensus top-five prospect in the 2017 class known best for his shot-blocking prowess and 7-foot-9 wingspan, Bamba chose Texas last month over fellow finalists Kentucky, Duke and Michigan. Bamba is the centerpiece of a top-five recruiting class expected to vault the Longhorns back to national prominence after a disastrous 22-loss season a year ago.
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