His profile has risen nearly as fast as he gets off the floor.
And that’s saying something.
“He’s got a 7-foot-4 wingspan, he’s 6-foot-10 and a half, and he jumps extremely quick. He doesn’t need to get himself adjusted and then go back up. He just springs up,” Indiana Elite Director Mark Adams told The Daily Hoosier.
Less than a year ago, Flory Bidunga arrived in the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an unknown in college basketball recruiting circles.
Now he is rated as a 5-star prospect in the class 2024, and every high-major college basketball coach in the country knows his name. And that includes IU’s Mike Woodson, who called Bidunga last week and offered him a scholarship.
Everywhere he goes in his brief time here, Bidunga has made a major impact.
Playing in Indiana for Kokomo H.S. last season, he led the Wildkats to eight wins in nine games down the stretch and a trip to the Class 4A semi-state game. In his first season playing organized basketball in the U.S. he averaged 17.5 points, 13.3 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per contest.
Bidunga played for Adams and Indiana Elite in the Adidas 3SSB during the spring and summer, and he helped lead the 16u squad to a 34-2 record and the circuit title.
And back with Kokomo for school ball in June, Bidunga once again made a splash when he posted 27 points and 10 rebounds in a highly anticipated matchup with class of 2023 6-foot-11 big man Xavier Booker.
We asked Adams what has allowed Bidunga to excel at the game so quickly. There are many variables — an unrelenting motor, elite natural abilities, and a competitive spirit.
“He runs the court extremely well, like as fast as any big man out there,” Adams said. “It’s really hard to get a big man to run the way he does.
“He’s got a nose for the ball — he rebounds extremely well. He’s left-handed and he blocks shots great because it’s usually the other guy’s right hand. All those things add up to make him pretty special.”
And then there’s something else you wouldn’t expect from someone who has only played the game for a few years.
Bidunga grew up playing soccer, a game that requires great feet — and that no doubt plays a role in what he is able to do on the court.
But bad hands have proven to be the kryptonite of many an inexperienced players from overseas.
Somehow Bidunga is a natural at catching the basketball, even in the up-tempo world of AAU hoops.
“He’s got extremely good hands,” Adams said. “I don’t know if he’s missed a pass this year, and that’s crazy really, for an international kid to catch the ball like he does. On the run, in traffic, in weird positions, it doesn’t matter — he’s got extremely good hands.”
Bidunga has a strong frame at 215 pounds. He can be a productive center in high major college basketball based on the current strengths of his game.
But projecting Bidunga to the NBA is a bit tricky right now. He hasn’t needed to venture out to the perimeter and make jump shots yet because he dominates in the paint. If there’s a question mark about Bidunga right now, it’s whether or not he will develop a reliable jump shot.
Adams sees the early signs of that happening.
“I’ve noticed in July in shootarounds he’s getting a lot better (at shooting jumpers),” Adams told The Daily Hoosier.
“I’m not advocating him going out and shooting threes just yet, but I have noticed in warm-ups and practicing, he does look a lot better. He’s only been here a year, and before he got here I doubt he ever shot a three. His free throws have gotten better, and I’ve noticed his jump shot looks pretty good. I think in the next two years that will come around as well, because he knows that’s where he needs to get better.”
That’s the other part about Bidunga worth noting — his competitive drive.
“He really wants to be the best he can be,” Adams said. “Somebody ranked him No. 60 as his first ranking, which is pretty great, but he was upset about there being 59 guys better than him.”
As interesting as the last year has been for Bidunga, things are only getting started with his promising basketball career.
Offers by Indiana and Purdue last week marked a bit of a turning point in his recruitment after rumors of a more narrow approach.
But don’t confuse those offers as meaning Bidunga is paying a great deal of attention to recruiting right now. He still has two years left at the high school level.
“Recruiting is secondary to him,” Adams said. “He just wants to be the best player he can be, and learn the language and work on his classes. The recruiting will shake out when it shakes out.”
And while he plays high school basketball in Indiana, and AAU for an Indiana-based program, fans of the in-state schools shouldn’t view Bidunga like you typical in-state prospect.
“He just wants to go where it’s the best fit, and where he can play right away,” Adams said. “He doesn’t really have a favorite school, he didn’t grow up in Indiana as a die-hard fan of any school. He just wants to be able to provide for his family one day, and that’s really all he’s worried about.”
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