With an available scholarship and a need for more length on the roster, the Bears have targeted Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, Mass) Roger Moute a Bidias †for a late addition to the 2013 class and will host the senior forward tomorrow in Berkeley.
A very recent newcomer to the game in terms of D1 prospects, Moute a Bidias began playing the game of basketball just three years ago after growing up and eventually growing out of soccer -the primary sport of his native Cameroon.
Despite coming late to the game, Moute a Bidias displays surprising dexterity and a smooth stroke from outside combined with relentless defense and a hard-working attitude that any program would welcome.†
"I played a lot of sports growing up, like tennis and soccer, though not really on a competitive level, but after I grew a lot a few years ago, I wasn't as good at soccer anymore," said Moute a Bidias.
"My brothers were taller and were good basketball players so they encouraged me to try it out so I did. I was 15 when I started playing."
Moute a Bidias' older brother Luc Richard Mbah a Moute starred at UCLA and currently plays forward for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, though there's a distinct size difference between the brothers, with older brother Luc Richard weighing in almost 50 pounds heavier than his little bro, who checks in at 6-7/190 currently.
"I'm think I'll be as big or bigger than him," said Moute a Bidias. "I haven't really been in a weight program or had a chance to work on my body. But in college, I'll have a chance to work with advanced equipment and really develop my strength. I think it will really help me get stronger.
"I hope to be bigger than my brother. You always hope to pass your your brother. I hope one day I can talk a little smack to him if I pass him up," said Moute a Bidias, with a chuckle.
Luc Richard has been a mentor as well as a big brother for Roger, with his family spread all over the world, with his parents in Cameroon and two other brothers in Maryland and San Francisco in college.
"He's one of the people that made me believe I could do it, too, like him," said Moute a Bidias. "He said if I really put my mind to it, I could pick up basketball and really do something with it.
"He's been a mentor for me not only in basketball but in my adjustment to the states, like how I should conduct myself and what I need to look out for and pay attention to. My other brothers have helped with that, too.
"I like it here. I'd say back home, people are more warm and welcoming but here, once you get to know someone, people are pretty nice here.
Moute a Bidias only learned to speak English since coming to the states a couple years ago but in speaking with him, one would hardly guess that English was new to him with his thorough grasp of the language.
"The official language of Cameroon is French but it's largely a bilingual country, though English is mainly only spoken in the West of our country.
"We learned a little English in school but we rarely spoke the language and we really didn't know how to say much more than our name a few simple phrases.
"It was easy for me to pick up here, though. Watching tv and speaking with people in English every day, especially being taught in English in school, it comes pretty quickly."
Moute a Bidias was not on the radar of many coaching staffs until recently, being a newcomer to the game and country and not getting a lot of playing time till his transfer to Notre Dame Prep this year, where he averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds a game.
"I had fun being out there and was playing a lot," said Moute a Bidias. "Notre Dame's a good school so some people were able to see me play and I've received some recruiting attention from Cal, Marquette, Iona, Valparaiso, George Washington and others. The more we played, the better people got to know my game and my game's been getting better all the time.
"A lot of schools were wondering for a while if I'd be a full qualifier and now that I am, they're getting more serious."
One of the programs getting serious is Cal, who Moute a Bidias will be officially visiting on Wednesday.
"I have a good relationship with Coach Gottlieb and I've had a chance to talk to him a lot," said Moute a Bidias. "I've had a chance to talk to Coach Montgomery a little bit, too. I really like them and I think they know my skill set well and how I can get better. They understand my potential but they also know areas where I can improve.
"That's one of the things I like about them. Some people will tell you 'you're really good, you're really good, you're really good.' But when someone says, 'you're really good but you need to work on this or that and you can be that much better,' that impresses me. I feel like that's being honest and that's someone that really cares.
"That's one thing I like about Cal but besides that, Cal's academic reputation is big, too. Everyone you talk to, if you say you're being recruited by Cal or UC Berkeley, everyone says what a great school it is."
Stay tuned for more from Moute a Bidias after his visit.
To view practice video highlights from Moute a Bidias, use the embedded viewer below: