The 16-year-old Frenchman who drives the NBA crazy


(Watch the performance of Victor Wombanyama)

How many actors do you know who say they are Kevin Durant, Luca Doncic, Kristaps Forzingis and Rudy Gover together? Probably on no one. Then meet Victor Wombanyama, a 16-year-old Frenchman who rises to a height of 2.18 with a hand span of 2.31 m, who in three years is expected to be selected very high in the draft. Some experts claim that even in the first place.

“It would be fair to say he’s the next big thing in Europe. In terms of talent I would categorize him at Doncic’s level. I’m not saying he’s going to be as good as Doncic, but he’s definitely the best player I’ve seen in many, many years. “He could have registered for the upcoming draft, he would have been selected in one of the first places, and certainly the first of the Europeans.” This quote is signed by Jason Philippi, who has worked for 19 years as an international scout for NBA teams.

Victor Wombanyama

Victor Wombanyama

(Photo: FIBA)

So who are you Victor Wombanyama? His arrival in the world of basketball was very natural. His mother, Aludi, was a player on the French national team and today she coaches at the local club in Versailles where the family lives. His father, Felix, was a high jumper, his older sister Eve plays in the Willerbane women’s team, and he also has a younger brother who plays handball.

But his path in the Wombanyama sports world began in judo in general. “It was for a short time, I don’t remember it too much, but it happened,” the chin says. He then played football and combined it with basketball. “I was a not bad goalkeeper at all, but at one point I loved basketball more so I left.”

He caught the attention of the scouts two years ago when he was specially invited to a youth tournament in Spain, where he represented Barcelona. But his big break came at the European Cadet Championships a year ago. Wombanyama was the youngest of them all in the year, but that did not stop him from finishing the tournament with an average of 13.7 points, 14.6 rebounds, 8.1 blocks and 2.3 steals according to a 36-minute per game index (the most reliable statistical measure for NBA players to measure players’ average ).

Victor WombanyamaVictor Wombanyama

Wombanyama. Sign at the European Cadet Championship

(Photo: FIBA)

Wembanyama took even 21 rebounds in one game against Croatia. He had five games with at least five blocks and eventually helped France finish with the silver medal.

This season he played mostly on the Nanterre Under-21 team, but trained regularly with the seniors and even made little history when he became the second youngest player to make an appearance in the EuroCup. When he came on the floor in the game against Drushpak on 11 December 2019 he was 15, 9 months and 25 days old. “It was a piece of story,” says Devin Oliver, who played with him this season at Nanterre. “We all got up from the bench and cheered him on. It was cool. Now everyone is getting to know him.”

Later he also took part in the youth tournament for the Euroleague and in general impressed with an average of 20.1 points, 15.3 rebounds, 7.7 blocks and 3.5 steals (in a 36-minute index), even though he was the youngest of them all in two years. He has accumulated 24 blocks throughout the tournament (new record), and in one game has blocked 9 times, one more block out of all the blocks of the player ranked second behind him on average per game.

Luka DoncicLuka Doncic

Doncic. Is there a competitor?

(Photo: AFP)

(Watch one of Wombanyama’s performances at the European Cadet Championships)

“I’ve never seen a player like him,” Nanterre’s senior player Taylor Smith told him. “He works hard and his potential is in the sky. He can score and also dribble. He’s like Kristaps Forzingis, but even Forzingis has no ball control like his own. And he also plays defensively like Rudy Gover.”

Wombanyama has an IQ high basketball, great game vision, probably for a player his age and height, and he can sometimes provide a “crooked eye” dedication that will leave everyone speechless. “He’s a very good morale, and it’s sometimes an aspect that is not valued enough,” Scout Philippi adds. “His delivery ability is at the highest level.”

Another advantage of the 16-year-old chin is the fact that he can run the field quickly with and without the ball and finish with light baskets. He also has not bad shooting at all from all ranges, and his percentage of penalties is good (82.4 percent in the Euroleague tournament). Former Hapoel Tel Aviv player Dallas Moore also collaborated with Wombanyama this season, and he has only kind words to say about him: “He can really score well. I think his shot is unprecedented for someone his height and age, who should not yet know what he is doing at all. He throws to three, from half distance, can dribble and go up for a throw, and also throw after a delivery. ”

Yannis Endocombo vs. Rudy GoberYannis Endocombo vs. Rudy Gober

Increasing, but also with attack

(Photo: AP)

ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz, who has visited Israel several times in the past two years to follow Danny Abdia, Yam Madar and Noam Dovrat, gives his opinion on the talented Frenchman: “He is probably the greatest talent in the world. In three weeks of scouting in Europe I analyzed a number Players who will be in the NBA in the future, but he was one level above them all. ”

According to the plans, despite his young age, Wombanyama is expected to integrate further into Nanterre’s senior team this season and get significant minutes. This is also the reason he has no intention of leaving the club for another team, or perhaps for an American college in the future. Long ago European players, probably the great talents, realized that if in the past colleges were the best stage to showcase their abilities to NBA teams, now everything is accessible and with the click of a mouse the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers or Memphis Grizzlies can watch games from the world.

No player is perfect, so what does Wombanyama need to improve after all? First of all its physicality, or rather to gain a significant mass of muscle. On the other hand, he is only 16 years old and it is clear that with the years and proper work, probably in the best league in the world, it will happen. “I met his dad and mom. They are great people. His mom asked me to push him, and that I make him more aggressive,” Oliver says. “Victor is a kind of Durant. I feel he will be like KD. We must not forget that Durant came to the league. He was also thin. I would not worry about Victor in this section.”

Victor WombanyamaVictor Wombanyama

Wombanyama. Excellent blocking ability

(Photo: FIBA)

Wombanyama knows exactly what he’s worth and where he’s aiming for: “Like any player I dream of being drafted and playing in the NBA. But not to be another player and say I played there, but to be dominant, maybe even lead a team hoping I can win championships. That’s my dream.”


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