Oklahoma’s surprising record and competitiveness has been refreshing for the Big 12. The Sooners were not expected to be in the top half of the conference when the season tipped off, but they have quietly put themselves in the conversation for a tournament bid. Wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State will certainly help their case. Romero Osby has been outstanding, but so has his front court mate, Amath M’Baye. The 6’9” redshirt-junior sat out least season after transferring from Wyoming, where he averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore. In his first season playing with the Sooners, M’Baye is logging 10.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, while showing improved shooting percentages from the three-point line and the free throw line.
M’Baye is showing a lot more confidence in his perimeter shots, even when they don’t fall. The improved confidence and better consistency in his shooting mechanics have given him the opportunity to shoot freely in the Sooners offensive sets. In addition to the shooting range, he can put the ball on the floor and attack off the dribble from the perimeter. M’Baye also shows the willingness to screen for teammates. In their game against Baylor, M’Baye set a nice screen for Steven Pledger, who was able to get just enough space to get a shot off. One of the things important about M’Baye’s game is that he has the potential to be an inside-out player. Although he is a little thin in his upper body, adding some strength to his frame should be possible and would make him a tougher cover in the post. He has solid footwork, a go to move in the drop step, and is always looking for cutters. M’Baye is a good finisher at the rim and has had a few scoring outbursts, including a 19-point effort against West Virginia early in the season and a 20-point effort in a win at Baylor.
Defensively, M’Baye still has a ways to go, but has the tools to be a solid interior defender. Though he will often defend players bigger and longer than him, he has solid rebounding fundamentals. His box-outs are strong and he has a nose for the ball. When defending Isaiah Austin in the deep paint, he did a nice job to go straight up with his arms and avoid picking up fouls. He does a good job of contesting shots in his defensive areas. M’Baye is pretty solid in defending pick and rolls and will hedge out hard at the ball handler, but also quick enough to recover to his man. He has nice length and good leaping ability, so he can cover a lot of space with his reach. M’Baye also showed the willingness to get physical and bang with bigger, stronger players like Cory Jefferson and Austin.
Overall, M’Baye is an interesting combination of length, athleticism, and toughness. He will likely return for his senior season, when he’ll have a chance to be the primary interior scorer with more shot attempts available due to Romero Osby’s departure. He has a chance to make a NBA roster because he brings energy at both ends of the floor, has sound fundamentals, and can be integrated into any kind of offensive and defensive system.