Jun 27, 2022 - Sports

Meet Victor Wembanyama, the top prize of next year's NBA draft

Victor Wembanyama

Photo: Romain Biard/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

The 2022 NBA draft was just four days ago, but scouts and teams are already salivating over France's Victor Wembanyama, the prize of next year's class.

Why it matters: The 18-year-old point-forward with a Swiss Army Knife skill set is being touted as one of the best basketball prospects ever.

Player profile: Wembanyama pairs impressive shooting range and court vision with game-changing rim protection. He led Euroleague with 1.9 blocks per game last season — while playing just 17 minutes per game.

  • Physicals: He's 7'2" (at least) with a 7'9" wingspan and weighs 230 pounds.
  • Team: He plays for ASVEL, which is owned by Spurs legend Tony Parker and just won its third straight French League title.

What they're saying: "I thought I was tall, I thought I had long arms, but he takes it to a whole other level," seven-footer Chet Holmgren, this year's No. 2 pick, said after Wembanyama's monster performance against the U.S. in the U-19 FIBA World Cup title game.

  • "Might be the most talented prospect I've ever scouted," says ESPN's Jonathan Givony.
  • "Rudy Gobert mixed with Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis," writes Yahoo's Krysten Peek.

Catch up quick: Wembanyama grew up near Paris in a family of athletes: his mother and sister excelled at basketball, and his father was an elite long jumper.

  • He played soccer and judo as a kid before focusing exclusively on basketball at age 10, by which time he'd already garnered offers from Barcelona and ASVEL.
  • Instead, he joined his local club, Nanterre 92, which he led to the U-18 championship game when he was just 14.
  • At 15, he became the second-youngest player in EuroCup history, and last month he was named the French League's Rising Star (best young player) for the second straight year.

The big picture: Four of the NBA's top 10 players right now hail from abroad in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić, Joel Embiid and Luka Dončić. It might not be long before Wembanyama joins them.

The bottom line: Elite NBA prospects get hyped every year as the draft approaches, but it's the rare talent who bullies his way into the news cycle mere hours after the previous draft concludes.

Watch: Highlight reel (YouTube)

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