Progress by leaps and bounds, in the footsteps of Victor Wembanyama

Progress by leaps and bounds, in the footsteps of Victor Wembanyama

American recruiters are already training to pronounce his name, and they love his size and stature: as a teenager, Victor Wembanyama is confidently making his way to the planet of the NBA after yet another dazzling scout during his American tour from the Metropolitans to the USA on Tuesdays and Thursdays. in Las Vegas.

Trained in Nanterre and passed through Asvel, the young French home player is presented as the new nugget of French basketball and has a great future in the NBA.

At 18 years old, if not yet known to the public, Wembanyama risks seeing too quickly that his reputation, with his height of 2.21m and his tall, slender and tense physique, have grown beyond the simple framework of basketball enthusiasts.

“He was my height, 1.70m, about 8 years old. And when he was 5, everybody thought he was 10”, smiles ex-manager Emmanuel Saravas, who wore chicks at his first club, Entente Le Chesnay-Versailles.

There, in this affluent town of Yvelines, little Victor started holding the orange ball. “We suspected he would have the body to play top-level basketball: his mother is 1.91m, his father is 2.05m,” explains Emmanuel Saravas, pointing to an old shoe of the size 53 player. 15 years old.

Above all, both parents are passionate about basketball and sports: the mother was a player, was a coach at Chesnay-Versailles and closely watches her son’s beginnings, while the father, a former athlete, is a physical trainer.

In short, a family history reminiscent of Parker, Diaw or Batumi.

“Often the sons of coaches who spend time in the gym have something extra, they train more than others, they always have the ball in their hands,” sums up Emmanuel Saravas.

“We saw the three boys so far away, while her mother Elodie was training, they were always immersed in basketball,” reiterates her former coach.

“I have the impression that he’s always been there. As a kid, I was good at all sports. (…) I loved it like every kid likes to play”, Wembanyama recalled for his role there. AFP.

Because Victor is not alone: ​​His younger brother got into handball, while his older sister, who is a basketball player, also went through the Asvel and France team.

– Versatility –

From his beginnings at Chesnay-Versailles, this drawing lover was a habit he would perpetuate throughout his career, at the club as well as with the national team, and even in his life outside the courts ever since he received his Bachelor’s degree with honors and honors. one year ago.

“We were amazed with his motor skills, he was doing incredible things for a kid his age,” says Emmanuel Saravas, 7-9. And this is a key feature of the child, who is always extraordinarily mobile and coordinated for about 220 centimeters.

“From childhood I was lucky to be taller. From primary school I was the size of my teachers! I got ahead and eventually showed normal growth. There I had to take a centimeter in two years. Motor skills , so I didn’t have to work on it”, the person concerned explained in October 2021.

“The great thing about his game is that he can dribble, he can shoot, he can pass, he can run…” says his former coach. As a kid, he saw the potential of 2.13-metre German Dirk Nowitzki, who had captivated the NBA with his field goal for nearly 20 years with the Dallas Mavericks.

“He can lift the ball, he can play strong winger, center, sometimes even a winger. He’s a special player, he can do anything,” says Michael Bur, one of their coach at Nanterre, adding that it would be a mistake. To sum up Wembanyama as great for its size, as it is.

The split times seem to confirm this potential beyond expectations because what it showed in Las Vegas surprised observers, and not the least. Lakers megastar LeBron James praised him Wednesday night, calling him an “alien.”

– Developing body –

Arriving in Nanterre at the age of 10 before joining the training center four years later, this talented man quickly rose to the point of making his professional debut in the European Cup at the age of 15. “He’s always adapted very quickly against older players,” recalls Michael Bur.

The dazzling player at the U19 World Cup in July 2019 gained even more fame but had to settle for a silver medal with Blueberry, who was defeated by the United States in the final.

Despite grappling with recurring injuries in the 2021-2022 season, he became the French champion with Asvel, who left for the Metropolitans 92 in June.

Called ahead to prepare for the Eurobasket, he has to lose his injury.

That’s the only – potential – shadow on the board: physical. Even if he’s made great progress in this aspect at Nanterre, Wembanyama remains lean (too painfully approaching 100kg) and will need to thicken at first to resist the Elite Championship’s physical battles with the Metropolitans.

But his former coaches are not worried about him, he is confident in his ability to work.

Recalling the spectacular progress Rudy Gobert or Giannis Antetokounmpo made at this level when they came to the NBA, Emmanuel Saravas said, “What 17-year-old has a body ready to play against adults?” he asks.

Between a trio of top defenders and a duo of MVPs, Wembanyama couldn’t have hoped for better role models.

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