Behind its 2.43 m wingspan, « Wemby » hides several other French players who could be selected for the Draft this Thursday at the Barclays Center.
The lives of 58 young basketball players will change next night, during the NBA Draft (2 a.m., on beIN SPORTS). Victor Wembanyama will see his name called first by Adam Silver, the big boss of the North American league, no doubt. But the 19-year-old prodigy is not the only French player concerned. If all the spotlights are on him, four other Tricolores on the starting line Bilal Coulibaly, Rayan Rupert, Sidy Cissoko or Nadir Hifi. Discovery.
Bilal Coulibaly, the other sensation of Boulogne-Levallois
No one could predict such a fate for the native of Courbevoie (92). At the start of the season, Bilal Coulibaly, 18, was not part of the professional squad of Boulogne-Levallois: he played with the Espoirs (U21). But after 16 games, Vincent Collet called him with the first team. In 38 matches with the pros, he started 18 times. With 4.9 points, 3 rebounds and 6 evaluation, his statistics do not reflect the talent of the protege of « Wemby ». Coulibaly is one of the best defenders on the vintage man, in addition to having a good basketball IQ. His meteoric rise is reflected in the projections for the Draft. In April, it was announced between 20th and 30th place. But since his superb play-off campaign, where his average points doubled, we regularly give him between 10th and 15th place! If necessary, “Wemby” and Coulibaly would then be the first French people from the same club and selected in the Top 15 the same year since the ex-Palois Mickaël Piétrus and Boris Diaw, in 2003). If you ask Wembanyama, Bilal Coulibaly even deserves… the Top 5.
Rayan Rupert, a diamond to polish
In the modern NBA, the thinking heads in charge of building the workforce are eyeing players like Rayan Rupert (19). The son of the late Thierry Rupert and brother of the tricolor international Iliana is a fullback of 1.99 m, has endless arms allowing him to evolve in several positions, especially in defense. A pure product of the Pôle France at INSEP, he had decided to play this season in the Australian league, at the Auckland Breakers. He had shown himself to his advantage in the final of the championship, lost in five matches against Sydney. Rupert averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 20 minutes of play all season. If announced at the end of the first round of the Draft, he has the physical tools to succeed in the NBA. His 3-point shooting (25% this season) is one of the key factors of his success in the NBA.
Sidy Cissoko, from Spain to the G-League
Another « prospect » of the 2004 generation, Sidy Cissoko (19) is one of the questions in this draft. In France, we don’t know much about this 1.98m point guard. Born in Saint-Maurice in the Val-de-Marne, he joined Spain and the Vitoria training center very early, in 2018. He spent four seasons there, making his professional debut in the second division. Then, he decided to export himself again to continue his progression. This time, direction the G-League and the United States. With the “Ignite” team, specially created to develop young talents, he was the teammate of Scoot Henderson, potential number 2 in the Draft. All while turning to 11.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1 against and 1 steal on average, in 29 minutes per game. Strong defender, creative passing and good transition player, Sidy Cissoko is a talent to develop over several years. We are talking about him in the second round.
Nadir Hifi, the NBA as a real goal?
After a dazzling second exercise (16.8 points and 3.4 assists) with the status of leader within a Portel team on a mission to maintain, the case of Nadir Hifi (20 years old) raises questions. Talented leader-scorer of 1.84m, the future international tricolor carried out trials with several franchises (Lakers, Trail Blazers, Kings ..) after the Betclic Elite season. A golden opportunity to show himself in the eyes of the NBA scouts: the Franco-Algerian is not expected in the 60 players called up, in the various draft forecasts. Hifi recently signed a three-year contract with Paris Basket. What to ensure his future, in case of non-selection this night.