Much has been made about the Gators’ thin frontcourt rotation this past season and though they will have more available bodies with the activation of Isaiah Stokes and Chase Johnson off of redshirt years the coaching staff is looking ahead to fortifying the post positions of the future with some targeted offers to defensive-focused bigs. Most recently has been an offer to class of 2021 recruit Bretner Mutumbo, a long 6’10” native of the Congo currently playing for Lincoln Academy Prep in Suwanee, Georgia and Team T.U.F.F. on the AAU circuit. An overwhelming presence on the defensive end, his instincts and physical gifts have already earned him offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, and now, of course, Florida. I had a chance to catch up with him to chat about what program he wants to take in college, his favorite Congolese players, and what motivates him to want to swat shots into the third row, but first I had the honor of speaking to his coach Cody Henson. Henson coaches him in both high school and AAU ball and is a valuable resource to help understand Mutumbo’s game. Here is what he had to say:
EF: You’ve had the chance to coach Bretner at both Lincoln Academy Prep and with Team T.U.F.F. so it’s safe to say you know him as well as anyone. It’s easy for people to see his athleticism when it comes to blocking shots or dunking the ball, but what’s a skill he has that he doesn’t get enough credit for?
CH: It’s similar to blocking shots but I would say altering shots. He makes guys think twice when driving in on him and if they shoot, it has to be really high because he is so long.
EF: How much of a luxury is it as a coach to design and teach team defense when you know you have an anchor like him guarding the hoop?
CH: It makes it much easier as I can tell my guards to be more aggressive since they know Bretner is behind them altering shots.
EF: I bet! They must feel a lot more comfortable knowing he is behind them. As a 2021 recruit, he still has lots of time until he makes his way to the college level of basketball. What is one skill you think he needs to improve in the upcoming seasons?
CH: He is still very raw offensively. Just being patient and understanding that he draws a lot of attention and playing through that and off other guys. To be honest in the short amount of time he has been with us, he has grown tremendously in all facets but definitely in this one.
EF: I suppose it can be expected that a 6’10” kid his age might struggle offensively, so this isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Coaches like you are always hoping for the best college situation for their players. What do you think he should be looking for in a program as he goes through his recruitment process?
CH: A place that will utilize him and develop him into the player he definitely can be. Along with a winning program and tradition. I believe that is very important because if you are winning that usually equates to player development.
EF: Thank you coach! Appreciate you taking the time to help us get to know Bretner better!
CH: Sounds good. No problem.
And now, my interview with Bretner Mutumbo.
EF: You’re quickly becoming a must-watch recruit but some fans may not have watched you play yet. How would you describe your game to them?
BM: I would say I take pride in rebounding the ball, running the floor, protecting the rim, and dunking everything around the rim.
EF: Taking pride on the defensive end of the floor isn’t something you always see from high school players these days and it shows a lot of maturity from you. Where do you think your drive to compete on defense came from?
BM: It comes to Dikembe Mutumbo, Serge Ibaka, and Bismack Biyombo because they do not complicate things. They play hard defense, take all the rebounds, make blocks, dunk on the basket…It’s in my mind. I guess it’s my job to play hard defense because if I protect the rim than nobody can make shots. I’m from Africa and that’s all we do over there: Play hard, and play great defense.
EF: Playing hard and playing great defense will translate at any level and for any team you play for, so that’s great! You referenced three players from the Congo, a country producing excellent basketball talent particularly when it comes to interior players like yourself. What would it mean to you to have the chance to represent your country in international basketball one day?
BM: That would be an opportunity I would be delight to have. To introduce my country and help them be the best African team like my brother Kabasele Herve who already plays for the national team. We have a lot of potential. I will be excited to play for my country, helping with my defense. Everything I can do for my national team, I will do it because I’m here to play basketball and I represent my country, my family, Africa, everything.
EF: I remember watching him (Herve) at AfroBasket last year! Once again I say, it’s incredible how many big men the Congo has produced. You have a lot of great countrymen to learn from, and I hope you get the opportunity to play for Congo in the future! You have already received a ton of interest from elite high-major programs. What are you most looking for in a college program during your recruitment?
BM: A good business program, winning culture, and a place that will develop me.
EF: All great priorities. I’m sure you’ll be able to find an awesome place to play. Thank you for being so generous with your time! One final question-you played at Lincoln Academy Prep with another player the Gators have offered in Moulaye Sissoko. How would you describe him as a player?
BM: Very strong, athletic big that rebounds very good and plays extremely hard.
EF: Thank you so much for your time, and best of luck with the rest of your spring basketball season!
BM: Thank you for your time. I appreciate it very much. Take care.
You can follow Bretner at @bretnermutumbo and his coach Cody Henson at @Coach_Henson33.