The NBA has often had players who were very gifted in another sport and who ultimately chose basketball, to the delight of the fans and the financial health of the league. Allen Iverson or LeBron James, to name a few, were great young US footballers, before opting for the path of domination in the discipline that interests us. Paolo Banchero the n°1 of the Draft 2022, is in the same vein, that is to say a complete athlete.
The new Orlando Magic player grew up in a home where his mother, Rhonda Smith, made the beautiful players of Washington University (in the same team as the former French international Katia Foucade), before experiencing discreet passages in WNBA. His father, Mario, of Italian origin, was him quarterback in the same university under the jersey of the Huskies. In high school, Paolo was so gifted at football that he passed into the expert hands of coach Monte Kohler, a renowned trainer of future pro players, with whom he won a state championship at O’Dea High School. .
« I think if he had continued football, he would have been drafted in the 1st round in the NFL. He has a body, he is an athlete. He would have been one of the biggest prospects in the country in college » , Kohler told Sporting News.
Back in middle school, Paolo Banchero was on an elite traveling football team that played against many future D1 athletes.
Here’s what he looked like: pic.twitter.com/f99DaI3srh
—Steph Noh (@StephNoh) June 20, 2022
For the good of Duke and the team that will be able to count on him in the NBA for the next few years, Banchero has chosen another path. That of the Durham campus and a rewarding year, the last of Mike Krzyzewski, to become an NBA caliber position 4. Forever, he will remain the last big major prospect of Coach K’s career and it is an understatement to say that the legendary Blue Devils coach holds the young man in high esteem.
« Paolo has really had an incredible season. He is absolutely ready to attack the next stage of his career. He may have put down big stats and won individual awards, but he has always put the team first. That’s a great leader and someone all of our players looked up to, even though he was a freshman.
He is a dynamic, explosive and versatile boy. The prototype of today’s NBA player. Everything that was asked of him, he did at a very high level. I loved working with him and his family in our program and I wish him only the best for the future”, said Coach K when Banchero announced his choice to appear as planned in the 2022 Draft.
Let’s talk a bit about the player that will recover the Magic. It’s quite simple, but obviously not anecdotal: it is only in defense that the shoe pinches Paolo Banchero a little. Despite enormous athletic potential and game intelligence that he was able to hone at Duke, he showed almost no sign of interest in the defensive thing during his college year. It remains to be seen whether this is a momentary choice or a pattern that will repeat itself at the highest level.
You can very well have a great career in the league by being inactive or handicapping in defense – hello Carmelo Anthony or James Harden – but in this case it is better to be an absolute monster in all the other aspects of the game. this is indeed the case here. In the era of basketball where court positions are no longer very established, Banchero can hurt defenses pretty much anywhere and in a lot of different ways.
Despite his 2.08m, « P5 » has a staggering physical and technical fluidity, with a real ability to alternate between the role of n°1 scorer and that of playmaker – his passing quality is a little underrated – while being a nightmarish mismatch for the defenders. In college, we saw him average 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists to guide his team to the semifinals against North Carolina. In this part, he had finished in double-double (20 pts, 10 rebounds) to punctuate his very good March Madness.
Interesting parameter for the rest of his career: the fact that he decided to be an Italian international. Paolo Banchero has already made himself available to the Italian Federation, obtained his passport and is expected to frequently play international competitions with his father’s country of origin.
« My first and last name are easily identifiable there (laughs). Around 15, my father submitted this idea to me and I decided to get closer to my origins and my Italian heritage. Until then, it was great for me and I felt a lot of love from the Italians. I’m looking forward to playing with the team in the future, » he said.
This will make things a little more challenging during the competitions in which the Blues will participate and which should give a life-saving boost to the Squadra Azzurra.
He could quickly become Orlando’s first offensive option, still at the start of its reconstruction. Considered by many to be the greatest talent in the draft, he may even be their future franchise player. His defensive shortcomings will on the contrary be well hidden within the collective. Especially in case of return of Jonathan Isaac, which could be a great addition. In any case, with this new attacker, the Magic has a bright future ahead of it.
Draft 2022: all picks and all moves