When the Spurs won the draft lottery, they won a basketball jackpot unlike any other. Victor Wembanyama is only 19 years old and appears to be everything as advertised, and possibly more.
"You know, the craziest thing is if AI created a basketball player — which could happen someday —it would have been this guy. Seven-foot-four with grace and agility, high level of skills, and then the off-the-court persona, the character, the humbleness, it's all there," said Fran Fraschilla, an ESPN basketball analyst.
Wembanyama played three seasons in the French LNB Pro A, the country's highest pro level while waiting to become draft-eligible in the NBA.
"Many of us have known about him since probably the age of 14 or 15. He comes out of an incredibly athletic family in France," said Fraschilla.
Fraschilla coached nine seasons for three Division I teams and took two of them to the NCAA tournament, including St. John's. He's been with ESPN for 20 years and has had a special emphasis on international players like Wembanyama.
"He's still in the early stages of development and the early part of this season. We've seen some bumps in the road, but we've also seen glimpses of greatness," he said.
Wembanyama's size and reach have made him an immediate force to be reckoned with.
"I want to say that defensively he's ahead of where he is offensively. But the beauty of Wemby is that he's got all the potential in the world to be dominant on both ends of the floor," he said.
Coach Gregg Popovich won championships with players like Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Now he has another who could be great.
Wembanyama is the latest example of how much basketball has grown around the world. This season there are 125 international players in the NBA from 40 different countries.
"The beauty for a casual basketball fan is to understand that basketball is now a global game. The international player is no longer an anomaly in this league. It's a sport that I love. It's really more the norm. There's a new wave coming and he's just the next iteration of it," Fraschilla said.
What Wembanyama ultimately wants is to be an NBA champion. His French countryman Tony Parker won four NBA titles playing for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com