The 18-year-old phenom dubbed an ‘alien’ by LeBron James for his preternatural talent leads the 12-strong squad named by Vincent Collet ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers next month.
The 18-year-old, who captured the imagination of NBA scouts and legends of the game alike after showcasing a breath-taking array of abilities during two exhibition games in Las Vegas this week, has been officially called up to represent France next month in Window 5 of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
The 7ft 4in giant, missed out on an appearance at EuroBasket 2022, but has now been called up in the 12-man squad that will face Lithuania and Bosnia and Herzegovina in November.
With no NBA players in the roster the spotlight is expected to shine even brighter on Webanyama. The Frenchman has raised expectations that he might go as the number one pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after impressing for his club Metropolitan 92 against the G League Ignite in Las Vegas.
The center finished his stay in Nevada with an average of 36.5 points, 7.5 rebounds two assists and one steal prompting a showering of praise including from three-time Olympic medallist LeBron James who was quick to the Wembanyama's otherworldly skillset:
“Everyone has been a unicorn the last two years but he’s more like an alien,” James said after a preseason game. “I’ve never seen – no one has ever seen – anyone as tall as he is, but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Kevin Durant echoed James’ fascination: “That type of talent and skill just puts a smile on your face if you play basketball,” the Brooklyn Nets man said. “The evolution of the game has taken us this far.
“The league’s [NBA] really in trouble when he comes in. I want to see how it plays out.”
While the friendlies in Nevada gave audiences a glimpse of how Wembanyama matches up against other 2023 prospects next month’s World Cup qualifiers will shed light on how the teen will fare against more mature players.
Buoying French hopes will be the teen's already impressive numbers in the national jersey.
At the U19 Basketball World Cup Wembanyama was named in the Team of the Tournament after he averaged 14 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.7 blocks per game.
He carried France all the way to the final where Les Bleus narrowly lost to the United States 83-81.
Here is the full 12 called up for France:
ALBICY Andrew – Gran Canaria
CHASSANG Alexandre – JL Bourg
FRANCISCO Sylvain – Peristeri
INGLIS Damien – Gran Canaria
KAMAGATE Ismael – Paris Basketball
LACOMBE Paul – LDLC Asvel
LANG Nicolas – CSP Limoges
MAKOUNDOU Yoan – Monaco Basket
SENE Benjamin – Nanterre 92
TARPEY Terry – Le Mans SB
TOUPANE Axel – Paris Basketball
WEMBANYAMA Victor – Metropolitans 92
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