Bismack Biyombo is a stunning 2011 NBA Draft prospect, both in his special attributes -- outrageous athleticism and length -- and his story. ESPN's Chad Ford did yeoman's work filling out the entire Biyombo narrative, how the Congolese big man left his family alone at 16 to play pro ball in Yemen (where he knew no one), how he rose from Spain's third division to the top league in just months, how we went from not-remotely-on-the-radar to potential top-5 pick in a matter of weeks. (DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony did a similar excellent story back in early April, right after the Nike Hoop Summit, where Biyombo became as much of a household name as any 18-year-old Congolese basketball player can.)
But there are question marks all over the place. Perhaps the most serious one is about his age. From Ford's story:
When he talks, he sounds like a wise, old traveler ... not the 18-year-old he claims to be.
"I was born on August 28, 1992," he tells me several times. He repeats the date several times in the interview.
But ask NBA scouts -- any NBA scout -- and they'll tell you he's closer to 22 than 18. They have no proof, mind you. He just looks, sounds, acts and plays older, they claim.
So how old is Biyombo, really?
Option A: HE IS 18
According to: Biyombo, Biyombo's agent
Biyombo claims he is 18 years old; this is good enough for most people in polite society. The only people who typically require proof of age are bartenders, bouncers, Olympic gymnastics officials, conscientious frat guys who suspect high school girls are crashing their parties and, soon, presidential observers who insist Republican candidate Michelle Bachmann can't be a day over 29. (Wink.)
Option B: HE IS 18 OR 19
According to: Science
Anticipating questions about the verisimilitude of Biyombo's age claims, his agent Igor Crespo actually had a bone age study done in Spain. DX's Givony detailed the procedure in April. Here's the jist.
Crespo says he took Biyombo to a specialist to conduct a bone age study immediately upon his arrival in Spain (Biyombo was reportedly 16). The study involves taking x-rays of an adolescent's wrist and hand to see if his growth plates are still open. Because the cartilage in Biyombo's hand hadn't fused at that point, the specialist came to the conclusion that he could be 16 or 17 at most, but not 18, when growth plates are expected to be closed.
That was two years ago, making -- according to science, mind you -- Biyombo 18 or 19 years old. Givony has reported that the agent has shared the X-rays with team officials. Howeva!
Optic C: HE IS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 22 AND 26
According to: Anonymous NBA scouts/GMs, Donald Trump
Ford's anonymous scouts peg Biyombo at 22, or thereabouts. In the Hoop Summit aftermath, NBA.com's David Aldridge wrote that "an Eastern Conference GM said he heard rumors that Biyombo was anywhere from 23 to 26." SI's Ian Thomsen claimed that "a half-dozen NBA scouts and executives told [him] they believed Biyombo was older than his listed age of 18."
So a number of anonymous NBA team officials doubt Biyombo's age despite a lack of proof. Produce the long-form birth certificate, Bismack!
What do you think? Is Bismack Biyombo the 18 or 19 years old he claims, or is he somewhere between 22 and 26? Do you believe Bismack and science, or anonymous NBA scouts and GMs?