Hanlen: Mo Bamba “will be an All-Star”

By: Zack Cunningham

Pure Sweat CEO Drew Hanlen has been in the news recently for a lot of reasons, all of them good if he’s coaching your favorite NBA draft prospect.

Hanlen was credited for working with budding star Jayson Tatum last summer, specifically honing the young forward’s 3-point shot. Looking at the rookie’s 2017-18 stats, you could say Tatum’s work with Hanlen paid off. He shot 43.4%, good for eighth in the league.

Hanlen has also worked with Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal and Andrew Wiggins to name a few other NBA players. This summer? His highest-profile prospect is Mo Bamba, the freakishly long 7’1 center from Texas.

Bamba’s first year with the Longhorns was littered with highlights of the freshman swatting opposing players’ dunks at the rim with his 7’10 (!!!) wingspan and generally wreaking havoc on defense. His offensive game was raw, to say the least.

Bamba shot under 30% from deep at Texas and attempted just over 50 three-pointers a game. He also got moved off the block in the post because of his size (he weighed just 216 pounds his freshman year).

Hanlen is helping to change all of that. I conducted a brief Q-and-A with the 28 year-old former Belmont Bruin about what kind of potential he sees in Bamba and if the hype about his upside is warranted.

TT3 – What has impressed you most about working with Mo Bamba?
DH – He’s obviously athletically gifted, but his attention to detail and crave for knowledge has impressed me the most.
TT3 – You’ve been able to really aid in the transformation of some young players’ games recently (Embiid and Tatum). What are you working on with Bamba specifically that could see his game transform in the same way?
DH – We made the exact shooting changes that I did for Jayson last pre-draft and I’m teaching him the exact moves I taught Joel. If it’s not broke, don’t break it!
TT3 – A lot of the concern about Bamba is his lower-body strength. In your training with him, is it about becoming more imposing physically or being more of a finesse big?
DH – I like to focus on what players bring to the table instead of dwelling on what they don’t. We know he has to continue to add strength to his body, but he’s long (7’10 wingspan long) and mobile. We’re working on skills that utilize his strengths.
TT3 – When you first saw his shot, did you immediately know what needed to be remedied? And how quickly did he adjust?
DH – He had the exact same mechanical flaws as Jayson did, so it was easy to prescribe a program for him to get quick results.
TT3 – In as unbiased of an opinion as you can give, what’s a realistic “ceiling” for Bamba?
DH – He’ll be an All-Star.
TT3 – How do you see him fitting on a team like the Mavs?
DH – I think there are a lot of teams that he’d fit well with. He’s a defensive eraser and a stretch 5. Every team can use that.
TT3 – Finally, what sets him apart from other bigs you’ve worked with?
DH – This is his first time working with a purpose and plan. He has a long way to go but is already really good and will have a long, successful career.
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