Top international basketball prospect Adama Bal has committed to Arizona, he told ESPN on Tuesday.
"Coach Tommy Lloyd and his staff were the key," Bal said. "He recruited me at Gonzaga and offered me the first day on the job at Arizona. He showed me how much he wanted me every step of the way. He has a tremendous track record of developing international prospects into NBA players. I was able to talk to Joel Ayayi and Ronny Turiaf, among others, who told me all the best about him."
The 6-foot-6, 17-year old Bal is considered one of the most promising European prospects committing to the college route. He helped France win the U16 European Championship in 2019, and spent this past season as the starting point guard for CFBB in Paris. The Academy team, which hosts many of the country's top athletes in various sports, plays in the competitive French third division against professionals and has developed much of France's young basketball talent historically. Bal averaged 9.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 27 minutes over the course of 18 games.
Bal, who doesn't turn 18 until the middle of December, could be the youngest player in college basketball next season, following a similar route to Gonzaga's Joel Ayayi, who also enrolled as a 17-year old. He has excellent size for a guard with a 6'11 wingspan, and strong versatility as a passer, shot-maker and defender that should allow him to play a variety of roles in different lineup configurations as he gains strength and experience.
"It came down to opportunity. I had no clear intention of going to college and really considered going pro, but offers were fairly limited in France. So when the Arizona offer came around late, with the level of facilities, staff and the development plan for me there, it was really difficult to pass up."
Bal is the third international commitment Lloyd has recruited to Tucson, joining Gonzaga transfer Oumar Ballo from Mali and Utah transfer Pelle Larsson from Sweden. He'll be the eighth international player on the team's roster, along with returning players Bennedict Mathurin (Canada/Haiti), Kerr Kriisa (Estonia), Azuolas Tubelis (Lithuania), Tautvilas Tubelis (Lithuania) and Christian Koloko (Cameroon).
"Having three other French speakers and seven internationals will most definitely help. I think it's going to be a transition early on. I've already talked to Bennedict and Oumar a few times on the phone."
Sophomore wing Dalen Terry is currently the only non-international player on scholarship at Arizona, with 2021 high school guard prospect Shane Nowell, who committed to play for outgoing head coach Sean Miller, another possibility if he elects to join the team. Five-star in-state point guard recruit TyTy Washington is said to be considering joining the Wildcats as well, along with Kentucky and the G League Ignite program. He will announce his intentions on Saturday.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA Draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.