Nine months into his time in the United States, Prolific Prep's best-kept secret is a secret no more. 2022 five-star center Adem Bona is not only a well-known commodity in basketball recruiting circles, he's now one of Kentucky's top frontcourt targets in the rising senior class.
His numbers are consistently solid, but not absurd. The 6-foot-10, 220-pound center out of Turkey averaged 10.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 13 games for Prolific Prep during his junior season in 2020-21. To open the month of July, Bona then averaged 8.4 points (66.7% FG), 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 assists per contest representing Turkey at the 2021 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. In two games at Peach Jam - he arrived late due to the FIBA U19 World Cup schedule - he averaged 13.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. He then averaged 7.5 points (70.4% FG), 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game this past week at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Orlando.
he plays, though, that has college coaches - Kentucky, Kansas, USC and UCLA are among the schools recruiting him the hardest - drooling over the five-star center's long-term potential. With a college-ready body with solid length, Bona is an absolute workhorse on both ends of the floor, looking to tear the rim off the basket on dunks and swat shots into the stands on blocks. It's the constant talking on defense, it's the hard screens, it's the loose balls he hits the floor to snag, it's the effort when guarding out on the perimeter, it's the endless energy and push to exhaustion.
Bona has his flaws - he previously told KSR he was working on his jumper, touch inside and ball handling in an attempt to "being a little bit more like Bam (Adebayo)" - but the long list of positives he brings to the table would fit seamlessly on any roster in college basketball.
Kentucky is pushing to bring that seamless fit to its roster in Lexington, and Bona is receptive to the opportunity. As high as UK may be on the 6-foot-10 center, Bona may be even higher on the program and its coaching staff.
"Kentucky, I've been in contact with them for a while," Bona told KSR at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this week. "I have a great relationship with the coaches, the coaching staff, everyone. Looking back on Kentucky, they have a great history, send players to the pros and teach them winning ways. I'm all about that."
The energy UK's players, coaches and fans bring to the table every night at Rupp Arena, Bona says he fights to bring the same every time he steps on the floor. It's his best trait.
"I play with great energy and I like the energy around them with the fans, the players, the coaches," he said. "It's been really great building a relationship with them, knowing the staff and getting to know them over there. It's been great."
As for the other schools making a push in his recruitment, Bona consistently brought up his desire to play in the NBA as draws to Kansas, UCLA and USC beyond his clear interest in Kentucky.
"Kansas, I've loved being in contact with the staff lately. They've been really helpful," Bona told KSR. "Looking back on Kansas, they've produced multiple bigs in the NBA and the league, also in college."
"UCLA and USC, they've developed some of the best bigs in the league," he added. "I'm looking into programs that can develop me really well and help with my offensive skills and make me me a more complete player."
Bona previously told KSR at the Pangos All-American Camp back in June that he was "built a little bit different," similar to the key recruiting catchphrase the Kentucky basketball program has pushed for the better part of the last year, 'built different.'
“I’m not going to say I’m different, but I do think I’m built a little bit different,” Bona told KSR at the time. “I’m a big that runs fast, uses strength. I never give up. Guys like me (at my position), they can’t run, they don’t have the strength. I take advantage every possible way I can.”
He also acknowledged that nothing would be handed to him should he ultimately sign with Kentucky, nor would he want it any other way.
“Anyone who goes to Kentucky will have to fight for their spot,” the five-star center added. “It’s not going to be given to you, they’re not going to just offer a spot. I don’t need anything handed to me, I know I still have to fight for a spot with everything.”
As for what's next in his recruitment, Bona has an official visit scheduled to Kentucky on August 28, a trip he firmly believes will result in a scholarship offer from the coaching staff. It's his only planned visit at this point in time.
"I've arranged a visit to Kentucky on the 28th of August," he told KSR. "I'm probably going to be offered on the 28th of August."
What will be the ultimate deciding factor in where he decides to play at the next level? The school must feel like home, a place where he can develop and play for coaches he trusts to take his game to the next level.
"I'm mostly looking for schools where it feels like home because I'm far away from home," Bona said. "I want to go somewhere where I can build a strong relationship with the coaching staff, the players and the environment. I want to feel comfortable where I'm going to play basketball.
"I'm looking for a school that can develop me and make me a better basketball player, a better person."
Bona has no decision date in mind, but his recruitment will begin to ramp up when he visits Lexington in the coming weeks. How quick will things go from there? It all starts with a scholarship offer.
Until then, the five-star center plans to continue training and developing his game while looking ahead to a high school championship with Prolific Prep.
"I'm looking forward to fixing some of the holes in my game, trying to better myself and become a more complete basketball player," Bona said. "Doing that is going to be difficult, but I'm going to try. I'm putting the work in and getting myself better, that's part of the game. For my team, we're trying to go to GEICO (Nationals), win a championship. We're going to work toward that."