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Taking a Look at the Hype Surrounding Victor Wembanyama

When looking at future NBA prospects, all eyes are on 16-year-old phenom, Victor Wembanyama. Eyes have been watching the French youngster from afar for a while now, but since a certain video went viral back in October, the hype has significantly multiplied.

The viral video showed the 7-foot-3 Frenchman locking horns and impressing in a 2-on-2 workout against the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, as well as Vincent Poirier of the Boston Celtics.

Wembanyama’s versatile skillset was on show. From impressive handles to eye-catching mid-range jumpers. He certainly showed an ability to score on Gobert, a 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz describes Wembanyama as “arguably the best prospect in the world regardless of age”. Currently playing out of Nanterre 92, Wembanyama is eligible for the 2023 NBA Draft. Where Schmitz states that he has a chance of being selected with the top pick.

Beginnings:

Victor Wembanyama grew up playing football and participating in Judo. But also from a young age, he was taught the fundamentals of basketball by his mother who played the sport. He went on to begin his career at local club Entente Le Chesnay Versailles.

At 10-years-old he joined the youth system of Nanterre 92, on the outskirts of Paris. His parents reportedly rejected offers from the likes of FC Barcelona and ASVEL Basket. Through his youth career he was part of many successful teams, picking up silverware in various categories.

In the 2019-20 season, a 15-year-old Wembanyama started representing Espoirs Nanterre in the LNB Espoirs, a French U21 league. Where in 13 games (19.9 MPG), he averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks. On 52.4% shooting.

In October 2019, he made his professional debut for Nanterre 92. Featuring in 31 seconds against Brescia in the EuroCup. Where he became the second-youngest player to play in the EuroCup at 15 years, 9 months, and 25 days old. Behind Stefan Petkovic.

In February 2020, he showed out for the Nanterre under-18 team at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament. Through 4 contests, he posted averages of 15.8 points, 12 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 6 blocks. Whilst facing the Zaragoza U18 team, Wembanyama recorded a tournament-record 9 blocks. Additionally, his blocks average (6) led the competition, which earned him all-tournament team honours.

https://i2.wp.com/www.sport.fr/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Icon_WEMBANYAMA0188.jpg?w=580&ssl=1
(Image/Sport.fr)

Current Progress:

In the current 2020-21 campaign, and now 16-years-old, Wembanyama has been moving up and down the French basketball ladder. As his stock has risen dramatically. He’s spent time on assignment with Centre Federal in the Nationale Masculine 1, the 3rd tier in France.

The Centre Federal roster is filled with players from the famous INSEP training institute. The same institute that developed the likes of Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Clint Capela, and many more.

In his one-and-only game with the team (Oct 21), Wembanyama scored 22 points against STB Le Havre. In the 72-63 victory, the rising star also had 10 rebounds and 7 blocks.

He has showed out again for Espoirs Nanterre too, playing in 2 games to-date. In those, he’s played an average of 31.5 minutes per contest. Posting averages of 15.5 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.5 steals, and 5.5 blocks.

He made his French league debut for Nanterre on September 23, 2020. Playing 4 minutes and grabbing a single rebounding in a LNB Pro A loss to JL Bourg.

On November 4, 2020, Wembanyama made his EuroCup season debut. Playing 17 minutes and recording 5 points (2-3 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 blocks, in a 75-63 loss to Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana.

On the international stage, the French phenom represented France at the 2019 FIBA U16 European Championship in Udine, Italy. He led his team to a silver medal, recording a tournament-high 5.3 blocks per game in the process. As well as earning all-tournament team honours.

Comparisons:

Standing at 7-foot-3, Wembanyama possesses incredible length with a 7-foot-8 wingspan. He’s currently listed as a Power Forward and has drawn comparisons from Rudy Gobert to Kristaps Porzingis. Obviously, there have been Giannis Antetokounmpo comparisons thrown out there as well.

“Despite his huge feet and thin frame, he moves like a wing. Not only does he put a lid on the rim like Rudy Gobert, he also shows the floor-spacing potential of a young Kristaps Porzingis, with a far better handle and passing feel.”

Mike Schmitz, ESPN

Either way, Wembanyama is a huge talent that possesses potential NBA superstar prowess. At the tender age of 16, he is very raw, but his ability to hold his own in the French professional ranks already is impressive. That, and while he dominates size-wise, his slick handles and capability to shoot from range will have NBA teams locked on his progress leading up to 2023. Watch this space.


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