French teen star Wembanyama declares for 2023 NBA Draft
NEW YORK – French teen big man Victor Wembanyama, seen as the likely top pick in June’s NBA Draft, said Friday he has submitted paperwork to the NBA to be eligible for selection.
The 19-year-old center who stands 7-foot-3 (2.21m) appeared on ESPN’s NBA Today to confirm his plans.
“It has been a year with so many great news (events) for me,” he said. “So first of all I want to thank anyone that has been part of that journey and all the previous years — all the coaches, my family.
“And I’m really excited to announce that I’m going to declare to the 2023 NBA Draft. So I hope it’s big news.”
While not an unexpected move at some stage before Sunday’s early entry deadline, it was a major detail for clubs in the NBA Lottery on May 16 who might come up with the top choice in the June 22 NBA Draft.
The Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs each have a 14% chance of obtaining the top pick with the Charlotte Hornets having a 12.5% chance and Portland owning a 10.5% chance.
Victor Wembanyama officially declares for the 2023 NBA draft with @malika_andrews 👀
(via NBA Today) pic.twitter.com/OMgOJket4t
— ESPN (@espn) April 21, 2023
A poll on ESPN’s show saw Portland win as a viewer’s choice of where they wanted Wembanyama to play at 23%.
There could be strong support in his homeland for the Spurs, the club where French star Tony Parker won four NBA titles in a Hall of Fame career, his induction set for later this year.
Those are the sorts of expectations surrounding Wembanyama, who has had a stellar campaign for Metropolitans 92 in the French league this season, including 21.5 points and 9.9 rebounds a game.
“It’s something crazy I’m not realizing yet,” Wembanyama told ESPN of putting himself into NBA consideration. “I realized pretty young I wanted to play in the NBA but it becomes a reality more every day.
“I’m so lucky to have this dream within the reach of my hand.”
Wembanyama is considered the top prospect since LeBron James, a player with speed and shotmaking skills like a guard but the size and strength of a center.
The NBA’s 82-game schedule could be the biggest obstacle the young Frenchman faces.
“It’s hard to play all 82 games,” he said. “My goal is to play the most games I can and help my team as much as I can.”