It’s not just Victor Wembanyama: Bilal Coulibaly, the other French nugget from the Mets 92 who makes the NBA salivate


The basketball world has had its eyes riveted on Boulogne-Levallois for several months. A few days before his arrival with great fanfare in the big league, Victor Wembanyama offers himself a last tour of choice with the Mets 92 during the Betclic Elite playoffs. Qualified for the final against the infernal Roca Team, Vincent Collet’s band can have high hopes. And not just because of his UFO.

No, it’s not just the future number 1 in the draft who is causing a sensation in the Hauts-de-Seine. For several weeks, another young Frenchman has been hatching and showing the extent of his talent. At almost 19 years old, Bilal Coulibaly continues to show himself and shines with a thousand lights. Until arousing the curiosity of a slew of NBA teams, while his name continues to climb in the « mock drafts ». Revelation of the year in France, the young Parisian could well find a place in the top 15 on D-Day.

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Bilal Coulibaly during the 2022-2023 season of Betclic Elite

Credit: Imago

A meteoric rise in recent weeks

« Right now, everyone knows he deserves to be top 10. But they are too few to understand that he deserves to be top 5Victor Wembanyama’s words speak volumes about his teammate’s recent performances. far from it.

Because Bilal Coulibaly has passed a course at the best of times. Followed for several years by the NBA scouts, in particular thanks to his performances in the French teams, but also since the match which opposed him against Bronny James last summer during which he was named MVP of the meeting with 25 points to 8/10 in shooting, the player would even have a draft promise with a lottery team (note, the top 14) according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.

Expected at the start or even in the middle of the second round a few months ago, the native of Saint-Cloud has, little by little, scratched places in the rankings. Now hoped for around 15th or 20th place, the athletic phenomenon has taken advantage of the enthusiasm around « Wemby » and the Mets to pull out of the game. His explosive profile has everything to seduce in the modern NBA.

A « baby Giannis » that makes franchises dream

For the past few years, all franchises have been looking for their « new Giannis Antetokounmpo ». Understand a player profile with phenomenal dimensions and whose development can quickly make you dizzy. Capable of doing everything, Bilal Coulibaly ticks the boxes of « baby Giannis » as the followers like to call him.

Several big league players also follow the physical phenomenon (1.99m, a wingspan above the average). After a great outing in game 4 against ASVEL – 16 points, 4 assists, 2 interceptions and above all a great burst of energy, the Habs were greeted by Kyle Kuzma, the Washington Wizards player, present in the 1st round at Cholet for the Mets game.

This kind of performance, among others, reinforces the interest of franchises like the Raptors, the Magic or the Thunder. But if the basics are promising, there is work to turn it into a machine. Yes, Coulibaly has a myriad of strings to his bow with great defensive abilities, game intelligence, a good handle and a good ability to finish in the circle. But it remains a project, a diamond that needs to be polished. It will take patience, franchises know that.

One last parade with the Mets

Before dreaming of the draft, Bilal Coulibaly has one last challenge with Victor Wembanyama and others. And what a challenge. Qualified for the final of the Betclic Elite, the Mets must achieve the feat against AS Monaco, recent third in the Final Four of Euroleague. To try to overthrow the Roca Team in a series, the Ile-de-France residents can count on their hope.

Varnished this year with two nuggets at his disposal, Vincent Collet praised the qualities of his colt that he was able to gradually bring into the deep end. « Yes, it’s Victor’s team but not only; it is also the team of Bilal and a few others (…) His progress is amazing. Like everyone else, I’m impressed with what he does“, launched the boss of the Blues after the qualification of the Mets in the final.

But if he has been performing for some time, the prospect of a withdrawal from the 2023 draft to enter the next vintage cannot be ruled out. Bilal Coulibaly is among the youngest registered this year and could easily be in the top 10 or even more in 2024 in the event of a full season in France or elsewhere. However, it is hard to imagine the player withdrawing his name by the high mass at Barclays Center on June 21. Before taking the plunge, Private Coulibaly has one more mission. A top performance against Monaco would only increase the hype surrounding it.

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