Victor Wembanyama is “the most incredible French hope that basketball has ever had”, says French coach Vincent Collet

Author of an impressive performance, Victor Wembanyama distinguished himself more than ever during the defeat of the Metropolitans 92 against the G-League Ignite (122-115), Tuesday October 4, in Las Vegas (Nevada). Aged 18, the slender (2.21m) French interior, big favorite to be number one in the next NBA draft, has excited many observers for his first game in the United States.

Vincent Collet, she coach at Boulogne-Levallois, also coach of the France team, was complimentary to him, with AFP.

AFP: To what extent did it surprise you when it premiered in the United States?

Vincent Collet: Beyond what he achieved in the second half, which was remarkable and exceptional, with his three-point baskets [7 sur 11 tentés], his rebounds, his numerous counters, which illustrated his enormous impact, it was his ability to react, after a first period which was a bit complicated. He had started with two, three good deeds, but also two, three less good ones. He struggled in defense, on penetrations from Scoot Henderson [son rival dans la course au n°1 de la draft]. Compared to him, at that time, he was in withdrawal. And the fact that he turned the tide in the second half is remarkable. This ability to react is the hallmark of the great. It blew me away.

He had said that this game, and the next one [dans la nuit de jeudi à vendredi], were the most important appointments of his career in terms of exhibition. And he assumed after putting the pressure on himself …

Yes and there was also his statement also about Henderson which I think was unwelcome, even if it was a joke [Wembanyama avait plaisanté en disant “Si je n’étais pas né, je pense qu’il mériterait la première place”]. But Victor responded. Coming this far is brave. Expectations are enormous, he is announced all the same as favorite of the draft. The fact of exposing oneself, there is a taking of risk.

What makes him a unique player?

This is what he manages to achieve in terms of technicality, agility, mobility in relation to his extraordinary physique. For example, we don’t necessarily expect a great player to make as many three-point baskets in all positions. He even puts them in motion…

“There are big guys who shoot with their feet in cement, but Victor is able to move and shoot, it’s something quite unique.”

Vincent Collet, coach of the France team

at AFP

What are the areas in which he must improve?

In the toughness, in his ability to choose the right shots. During the first French league matches, he had a lot of waste, because he doesn’t always make the right choices. However, it is not simple, because each time he has the ball in his hands, he can shoot. It therefore needs to be more efficient. For that, it takes time and patience, it’s part of learning.

The physical is essential in the NBA, where he will potentially play 82 games per season, not counting the play-offs. Is there work to be done on this plan?

Of course, he will have to strengthen his body. Because one of its great strengths is its mobility, and for that to remain the case, you have to have the right balance. We will work in this direction. He wants it, he has the determination for it.

His maturity is obvious, it adds to his qualities as a basketball player, in the service of a great ambition…

Yes, there you go, he’s the most incredible French prospect basketball has ever had.



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