French basketballer ‘Wemby’ aims for a shot in the NBA

“MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>French basketballer ‘Wemby’ aims for a shot in the NBA

Victor Wembanyama, 18, is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. Known as “Wemby,” he’s a 7-foot, 4-inch tall athlete playing professionally in his native country of France. Next year, he’s entering the NBA draft. 

The WorldNovember 11, 2022 · 3:45 PM EST

Victor Wembanyama, player from the Metropolitans 92 during a game against the Elan Bearnais, in Levallois Perret, near Paris, Tuesday, Sept.27, 2022.

Lewis Joly/AP

The National Basketball Association (NBA) season is underway and the league is brimming with talent. But one of the biggest basketball stories this season is focused on a young player overseas.

Victor Wembanyama, 18, is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. Known as “Wemby,” he’s a 7-foot, 4-inches tall athlete playing professionally in his native country of France.

Next year, he’s entering the NBA draft. But he’s already getting high praise from some of the greatest players ever.

“I’ve never seen — no one has ever seen — anyone as tall as he is, but as fluid and graceful as he is out on the floor,” legendary player LeBron James has said about Wemby.

George Eddy, a pro-basketball player in France and NBA broadcaster for 30 years, has known about Wemby’s talent for a long time. He remembers playing with Wemby’s dad and met Wemby himself when he was 15 at a local gym just outside of Paris. 

Wemby’s mother was an international player on the French national team and his father was a former track and field athlete that taught his son at an early age how to run, which explains his mobility and footwork, Eddy said. 

“The guy has had excellent ball handling technique since he was almost a baby,” he said. 

There hasn’t been a young prospect with so much hype since LeBron James in nearly 20 years. Wemby’s high school games were even broadcast on ESPN.

But international basketball scout Jason Filippi said the excitement around Wembanyama is on a different level — and that can be a lot of pressure for a young player. 

“I’ve seen a lot of young men who are being super-hyped and they buckled under the pressure. You can see that they were not at ease, they were nervous, if not on the court, at least off the court.” 

In response to all this praise, Wemby said he wants to stay focused on this goal. 

Filippi said that he believes Wembanyama could become one of the best players in the league.

Over the last three decades, the percentage of international players in the NBA has tripled to about 1 in 4 today.

It should come as no surprise anymore that top NBA players come from Croatia, Canada or Slovenia, Filippi said.

And Victor Wembanyama, from France, is widely expected to be the first pick in the 2023 NBA draft.

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