Flo Thamba’s Path to Waco | How Baylor Was Built

Flo Thamba, 6-10, 245, PF, Jr. (Kinshasa, Congo)
Committed: Jan. 15, 2018

Thamba came to the United States in 2015 after spending his freshman year in high school in Johannesburg, South Africa. Admittedly raw, he played at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va. for three seasons.

Baylor assistant John Jakus had known Thamba’s high school coach, Paul Mrozik, from when Jakus was coaching in Macedonia. Now Mrozik was coaching Thamba at Mountain Mission.

Coaches saw Thamba’s potential. Long and athletic with a high motor, he drew the attention of high-major schools the summer after his junior season with Team Loaded, and it started at the adidas Gauntlet event in Atlanta. It also didn’t hurt when Scott Drew watched Thamba go for 24 points against Lu Dort’s Canadian prep school team.

Thamba’s final four schools were Baylor, Illinois, Virginia Tech and Nebraska.

When he took the four visits with his family, the trip to Waco stood out. Thamba said that his parents didn’t speak any English, but Drew downloaded the Google app on his phone that could translate so he could communicate with them.

That closed the deal.

“That meant a lot to me. It was smart. The decision for me was fairly simple,” Thamba said. “I just fit in. I already came from a Christian school, so the Christian background was important to me.”

But it didn’t hurt when Jakus, coming off a 57-54 loss in Morgantown to West Virginia, made the six-hour drive through the snow to Grundy, and slept a couple of hours in his car prior to a 7 a.m. meeting with Thamba a week before he officially committed.

Thamba admitted that his freshman season in Waco wasn’t easy. He averaged 10 minutes, 1.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game coming off the bench, with similar production during his sophomore season, averaging 9.1 minutes, 2.3 points and 2.2 boards per contest.

This season, Thamba has started 16 games for the Bears, and while his offensive production is modest, he fills an important role for Baylor as a guy who rebounds, runs the court, protects the rim and doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Thamba is averaging 3.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

“He’s so important for us,” Drew said. “He and Jonathan [Tchamwa Tchatchoua] are elite screeners. Without them, it wouldn’t allow our guards to do what they do.”

“The beginning was a struggle,” Thamba said. “But with each success came some adversity. And as a team, we weren’t in the top 25 when I first got here. We had to grind it out, but that’s what has made us who we are today.”