Nikola Vučević sees Victor Wembanyama helping grow French basketball

Vučević sees Wembanyama helping grow French basketball originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

PARIS --- Nikola Vučević hasn't seen French teen sensation Victor Wembanyama play in person.

But the 6-foot-10-inch center for the Chicago Bulls has seen enough highlights to be impressed by one trait among many impressive ones.

"The thing that surprised me the most is at that age, to be that tall but to have such good control of your body, it’s very impressive," Vučević said. "A lot of times when you grow up so tall, even me, I was only 6-10 but at that age, 18, 19, I felt clumsy. Your body is not fully developed. And he’s like already there almost. The way he controls his body, his handles, it’s very impressive."

Wembanyama, 19, is the 7-foot-3-inch prospect who is the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. He plays for Metropolitans 92 of the LNB Pro A league in France. From his shooting range to ballhandling skills, he has NBA executives and scouts salivating at the prospect at drafting perhaps a generational talent.

"He looks pretty amazing," Vučević said. "Obviously, his skill set, everybody sees that. He seems to be on a great path to greatness. But he seems to be a very humble kid from what I’ve heard and a hard worker. Hopefully we get to meet him here."

Vučević has seen the rise of French basketball during his double-digit NBA career. He is close friends with New York Knicks guard Evan Fournier, one of many French stars who have helped the French national team become a player on the international stage.

"For the longest, people didn’t really follow basketball here or care for it. And then once you started having some very good NBA players, the French national team has become very good," Vučević said. "It will always be a football (soccer) country. But that’s when it became more of a basketball country as well. You had Tony Parker and Boris Diaw and the younger generation after them, (Nicolas) Batum and Evan Fournier, all those guys.

"With Victor, he’s a one-of-a-kind player and one of the biggest prospects the NBA has ever seen. So I’m sure once he gets to the NBA, I’m sure there will be even more buzz and people will talk about it even more. The more good players you have that go to the highest level and play from your country, the more interest people will have in it."

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