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from Villeneuve-sur-Lot to the NBA Draft, the irresistible rise of Ousmane Dieng

The talented 2.08m full-back has long dreamed of it. “I grew up watching NBA games with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Paul George and all the stars in the league, and I’m just hours away from being part of that championship…

The talented 2.08m full-back has long dreamed of it. “I grew up watching NBA games with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Paul George and all the stars in the league, and I’m just hours away from being part of that championship. I don’t fully realize it. I know that as the Draft ceremony gets closer, I’m going to feel a little pressure, but I’ve been preparing for it for a long time. I will take full advantage of it! »

“When I was three years old, I used to go to the gym with my dad all the time, holding the ball, dribbling, shooting and watching him play”

Before getting there, the son of Ababacar, former glory of National 1, and Marie-Pierre quickly knew that the orange ball would be his passion, and that he wanted to lead his life on the floors he has. started dating when she was very young. “At the age of three, I went to the gym with my dad all the time, a ball in my hand, to dribble, to shoot and to watch him play. The basketball fever touched me very quickly, and I quickly knew that I wanted to make it my job.

At the Espoirs center in Mont-de-Marsan and minimal at the JSA Bordeaux

After his early years at the Villeneuve basketball club, he was quickly spotted and joined, at the age of 13, the Pôle espoirs in Mont-de-Marsan while playing on weekends with the minimal France of the JSA Bordeaux. “Those years were very intense, but it also allowed me to get used to the sacrifices that are necessary to become a professional sportsman. I learned and I always focused on the long term, despite some difficulties from time to time, not being with my family,” he recalls.


Ousmane Dieng, here in the jersey of the Federal Center with which he participated in the National 1 championship at the age of 16.

Photo South West

Two years later, he joined INSEP, and took his first steps in National 1, at only 16 years old. “Playing against adults gives you the opportunity to come up against an already very competitive level, and you can only grow and progress with this kind of experience,” he explains. And to add that “despite the defeats, being a teenager and competing for the National Championship also allows us to assess ourselves in relation to the path we have to go to break through at the adult level, and become professional”.

After three years in the epicenter of French sport, Dieng finds himself at a crossroads in 2021, with several opportunities coming his way. University in the United States, where he received dozens of offers from prestigious colleges, or turn professional? “I had several calls with the leaders of the New Zealand Breakers, in the NBL, the Australian league, and seeing the way in which the chance is given to young people there, I made the decision to go to Australia to start my professional career.

Globe-trotter but always the South-West at heart

In the land of kangaroos, Dieng knows where he is stepping in basketball despite the unknown of leaving for a new country, at the antipodes of his native Lot-et-Garonne. There, the league is sponsored and supervised closely by the NBA, it serves as an antechamber, a post-training center for the best league in the world. From Sydney, Perth or Canberra, several young people from all over the world cut their teeth before leaving for the United States, with many examples of success so far. “Guys like Josh Giddey from Oklahoma City Thunder, or LaMelo Ball from the Charlotte Hornets who is already an All Star, their development has been very interesting. This is one of the reasons for my choice, to rub shoulders with guys who have already played in the NBA or the Euroleague, and to have playing time that allowed me to learn from each game.

“Walking in the footsteps of players like Boris Diaw, for example, is quite simply a great honor”

Normally based in Auckland, New Zealand, the franchise had to temporarily relocate to Melbourne due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel bans between the two countries. Ousmane is very comfortable, and is working hard to show what he can do in his first professional season. The season started slowly for him, but by dint of character and self-sacrifice, he managed to put out some very solid performances and saw his rating rise more and more in the projections for the 2022 NBA Draft.

Closely scrutinized

The recruiters of the American teams come to see him play very frequently, and are impressed by the potential of the young Villeneuvois. “I knew I was being watched very closely by NBA envoys, and I continued to give 100% to be in the best possible position to come to the United States this year. After the NBL season, I came to train with a particular coach in Miami for several weeks, in order to be in the best possible shape for the interviews and the various tests that I had to carry out before the Draft, and to show the franchises that they can invest in me for the future”.

Despite his young age, Ousmane Dieng has long been in the sights of NBA recruiters.


Despite his young age, Ousmane Dieng has long been in the sights of NBA recruiters.

AFP

Now in New York with his family for the big ceremony which will take place on the night of Thursday to Friday, at the Barclays Center, the hall of the Brooklyn Nets, Dieng does not forget where he comes from. He wants to best represent his city of birth. “I believe the Draft will be shown on a screen at the Salle Descartes in Villeneuve, and I’m really happy with the support and kind words that I constantly receive from the people of the city and the region, it’s really touching. I am proud to be from Villeneuvois, and I am also proud to represent the Sud-Ouest in the best league in the world. To follow in the footsteps of players like Boris Diaw, for example, is quite simply a great honor”.

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