who is Ousmane Dieng, the young French basketball player at the gates of the big North American league?

who is Ousmane Dieng, the young French basketball player at the gates of the big North American league?

The sacred Golden State Warriors, place at the last major deadline of the season in the NBA: the draft. During this annual evening, the 30 franchises of the league shape their future by choosing two young players who will join their workforce. In turn, each team selects a basketball player from the American university system, the NCAA, or foreign championships. A predefined order favors the worst teams of the season. Organized on Thursday June 23, the 2022 version will make some hearts beat in France.

Four young Tricolores are thus part of the list of 283 aspirants selected by the NBA. Besides Moussa Diabaté, Hugo Besson and Ismaël Kamagate, Ousmane Dieng remains the most likely to join the prestigious league.

The young colossus of 2m08 is a pure product of Insep (National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance). After years of training at the JSA Bordeaux, Dieng joined the Pôle France in 2018, at the age of 15. He played two years with the Federal Center in National 1 (the 3rd division), the basketball club bringing together players belonging to Insep. He also won the silver medal at Euro 2019 under 16 with the France team, alongside Victor Wembanyama, another particularly promising Bleuet who plays for Asvel.

Last year, Dieng flew to Auckland, New Zealand to complete his training with the New Zealand Breakers, a team attached to the Australian league. Amazing destination? Not that much. He became the first European to take advantage of the program”NBL Next Stars”which aims to attract foreign talents by training them over a season before presenting them to the NBA draft.

Leader in a winger corps, Ousmane Dieng ended the season in a convincing way with an average of 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. “Playing in a difficult league with very good players has been very beneficial for me”, he explained to ESPN [article en anglais].I learned a lot. The transition was important, facing much better players than those I saw in France. The game is faster. Everyone is more physical.”

The 19-year-old is now expected at the Barclays Center in New York around 8 p.m. (2 a.m. in France). Sixty players will be recruited in the NBA, but only the 20 best are called upon to sit in the media “green room” (the “green room”). In this place, young talents (i.e. “green”, green, not yet mature), accompanied by their family and their agent, take their places at the foot of the stage where Adam Silver, the league president, shakes hands with the selected players. Broadcast live, the event is watched by fans around the world.

In an article [en anglais] published on its site on June 16, the American television channel ESPN affirmed on June 16 that Ousmane Dieng would be part of this elite. For a young basketball player, such a summons bodes well for joining the NBA through the front door. The more a player is drafted in the first positions, the better his chances will be of being part of a squad where he will have playing time the following season.

Before Dieng, other French people, such as Joakim Noah (2007) or Frank Ntilikina (2017), were among the lucky ones. In 2020, Killian Hayes was called in seventh position by the Detroit Pistons, the highest ranked Habs in the draft. However, he had not been able to join the “green room“. In the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, the ceremony took place by videoconference.

In this 2022 vintage, which should be made up of a majority of very athletic players, his profile as a versatile winger capable of scoring and leading the game makes him a player with great potential. Mike Schmitz, draft specialist for ESPN, during an interview with Dieng was full of praise for the Frenchman:I think what’s really unique about you is your quality of passing, the way you control the ball despite your height.”

“I see you as the next Nicolas Batum.”

Mike Schmitz, drafting specialist for ESPN

Most American specialists put Ousmane Dieng in their list of the first 20 called up. These forecasts, made by journalists close to the leaders of the NBA teams (the “insiders”), strongly influence the final result. In the most optimistic scenarios, like that of Jeremy Woo of the American media Sports Illustrated [contenu en anglais]the winger even reached 9th position. He could then be selected by the San Antonio Spurs, who have the ninth choice this year. The Habs would then follow in the footsteps of a certain Tony Parker.

Jeff Garcia, a local San Antonio media reporter, once interviewed Ousmane Dieng on French legend. “He replied that Tony Parker was the best French player of all time and that he had watched him a lot during the finals [NBA]”, he tweeted. However, according to the young prospect, “there was no contact between Spurs and him during the selection process“.

Ousmane Dieng could join other French people on the NBA courts. According to ESPN (article in English)the Oklahoma Thunder, where the “Frenchies” Théo Madelon and Jaylen Hoard, would be interested in the profile of the native of Villeneuve-sur-Lot (Lot-et-Garonne).

At the gates of the NBA, the talented Frenchman has plenty of room for improvement. Some recruiters even find him still too light to integrate the “big league”. Others think he will have to improve in long-range shooting to weigh offensively. This year, Ousmane Dieng has made 27% of his 3-point shots, far from the NBA average of 35% on spicy shots. Anyway, everyone agrees that the franchise that will select Ousmane Dieng will place a good bet on the future.

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