It has been far too long before tonight since I had seen my beloved Kokomo Wildkats in person. I got to catch the overtime session of a tournament win against Brownsburg back in December, but in terms of seeing a live, in person full game it has been over two years. My newspaper job took me over to Richmond tonight, however, and I got to see the possible intersection of Kokomo basketball and Purdue as I finally got to see the Kats’ dominant sophomore big man.
It was worth the wait.
They have been playing basketball at Kokomo for almost 120 years. They are one of the state’s most storied programs with a state record 74 sectional titles, 34 regionals, and 8 semi-state titles. Tonight, I got to see something that had never been done in all that history (at least officially), as Bidunga thoroughly dominated Richmond for 32 points, 20 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots. 16 of Bidunga’s points came in the final quarter as Kokomo closed on a 22-6 run after trailing 39-37 in the period.
That’s right, he went full Ice Cube in a 32 minute high school game, with blocks.
So why am I writing about this here? Well, as it turns out, Purdue is interested. Paul Lusk has made the trip over to Memorial Gym on State Road 26 to see him, and I have it on good authority that LaPorte LaLumiere is giving him some interest for the remainder of his high school career since he is a 2024 recruit. My sources at Kokomo are optimistic he can stay and play the next two seasons at Kokomo, too.
You may have never heard of him though, because he has had quite the meteoric rise. He ended up at Kokomo from the Democratic Republic of Congo this year as part of the international baccalaureate at KHS. He had very little experience with organized basketball before this season. He is 6’10” though, and that helps.
He has drawn eyes though because he has some tremendous raw talent. He’s playing varsity basketball in the state of Indiana for the first time and he is averaging 16.3 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.9 blocks per game coming into tonight. He’s also shooting an insane 79% from the floor.
His raw athleticism was on display in this one. He is both nimble and quick around the rim. He has natural shot blocking instincts and on the offensive end he converted multiple alley-oops under the “Let’s just throw it in to the tall guy for a dunk” offense. The closest player I can equate him to for Purdue would be JaJuan Johnson in terms of athleticism, shot blocking, and quickness in the post.
He did not exhibit much of an outside shot in this game. He didn’t get to the free throw line and I don’t think attempted a shot more than 3 feet fromt he basket, but he was 16 of 24 from the floor and it was on more than dunks. His footwork was good and he was also good defensively in not fouling as he swatted shot after shot. Several of his blocks were also controlled blocks, where his team was able to easily control the rebound.
It was impressive how he took the game over though. He was physically dominant in the fourth quarter in scoring his 16 points, most of them coming on dunks. The Big Ten will, of course, bring competition that he can’t simply be physically dominant against, but he is still just a sophomore in high school.
He’s been doing stuff like this on the reg, too. In Kokomo’s three games in the Phill Cox Memorial Tournament back in December he did this:
Bidunga led the Kats to a third-place finish in the Phil Cox Memorial Tournament. First, the 6-foot-10 center had 32 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots against University. Next, he had 19 points, 12 boards and five blocks against Class 4A No. 5 Valparaiso. He followed with 19 points, 17 boards and four blocks against Brownsburg. Over the three games, he made 31 of 38 shots from the field (81.6%).
Here is some video on him.
My final assessment is that he is raw, but definitely has some talent. He is very quick, runs the floor well, and has great footwork and instincts. Given Purdue’s track record with big men he could thrive. It seems odd to say it, but at 6’10” he might be a bit undersized for Purdue, but if he develops any type of outside shot that makes him even more desirable as a four.