Victor Wimpanyama A generational talent, it’s no longer a secret. Announced as the future first pick for the 2023 NBA Draft, the Frenchman is preparing for a home stretch before leaving across the Atlantic. The Hub was present at the NBA Media Day to answer questions about the draft and its season Vincent Colette In Metropolitans.
We’ve been talking for several years about the 2023 NBA Draft and your potential first place. How do you approach last season before this moment?
Victor Wimpanyama: with appetite. I can’t wait, but I also want to enjoy this last year in France. I know that in the next fifteen years, I won’t be living here anymore. I have a good feeling about next year. I feel like my situation is a little different now, when you know I’m leaving next year. But I stay focused and aim to improve every year. Today, I just want to continue the momentum.
The first place undoubtedly has marketing, financial, etc. stakes. But from a mathematical point of view, is this place really crucial to you or is honesty what matters?
Victor Wimpanyama: Mathematically speaking, the most interesting thing is always to find an organization that cares about the project and the player. So it’s better to be second, third, or 20th in the draft if you have a better future after that. But, I don’t know if it’s pride, I have a part saying to itself that there should be no one in front of me.
A match is scheduled for October against Scoot Henderson, who has been announced with you as one of the candidates for next year’s first draft pick. Is it something you expect and motivates you?
Victor Wimpanyama: We have two games against G League Ignite on October 4th and 6th. It is, of course, an exciting thing. It’s a bit like a mini final, because it’s something that hasn’t been done before and less so for French basketball. Simply unheard of. The core of my business has always been to innovate and create things like never before. I treat this as the main actor of the thing. I want to do great things, especially in this event.
Do you aim to develop yourself physically before going to the NBA?
Victor Wimpanyama: What interests me this season is above all promoting a place as a potential first choice in the draft. This is my goal, instead of trying to gain 15kg and taking risks. I want to strengthen myself, but above all else to move toward a proper NBA position.
It was not spared from injuries last season, which certainly worries some clubs. How can you reassure them? Does this worry you?
Victor Wimpanyama: No, this does not concern me. I didn’t suffer any serious injuries and that’s reassuring. We know the support in the NBA is the best light years from here. So there is no cause for concern. We know how to take care of the players, you don’t have to worry.
How was your rehabilitation this summer?
Victor Wimpanyama: My return from injury went well. I spent some time in the US where I was really surrounded by the best I could do for my rehabilitation and my return. As usual, I feel better back. This translates to my last two shows. Even if it was only friendlies, it was often against major teams in the European Cup. I would say this is my best professional performance. After that, I feel really comfortable in this new team, in this new team, so I feel like he’s going to be fine now. Our coach Vincent Colette will be back from somewhere else, and he will rise again.
How, at your age, do you manage the pressures and expectations of the media about you and your potential career?
Victor Wimpanyama: I guess the way I deal with it has nothing to do with my age. But it has to do with my personality and my goals. You don’t need to work on this. I’ve had media training for a long time, but I think it’s OK, I seem to be working normally. Even despite all the expectations, there is one fact that I always keep in mind. Everything I do is for me. Expectations of each other have nothing to do with the way I conduct my career. I, does not bring me any tension. I’m really into my own thing. Everything I do, everything I achieve, everything I do depends on me, on my thinking and my action. And I think a lot about what I will achieve in the future. In retrospect, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve accomplished today.
How did you face last season? Did you achieve the goals you set for yourself?
Victor Wimpanyama: This year has been long. There were a lot of unexpected things. I learned a lot of things, especially because it was my first time in a completely new environment. It was really a year in which I learned a lot about myself and my goals. It’s a season that has been broken into several parts for me, with ups and downs, especially for my team. We suffered a lot of injuries, a lot of players missed … but in the end the results were very positive. We are the champions of France. For me, it’s the number one title that still matters. It’s my personal view, but I think my record is great. Best young player and 10 points average, that’s good, I think.
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What do you expect from your relationship with Vincent Colette? I imagine this was important in your choice.
Victor Wimpanyama: It was very important, yes. Vincent Colette is someone I have had the opportunity to meet on several occasions, especially when I spent some time with the France department. I met him several times at INSEP and we actually discussed several years before signing with Levallois. He is definitely the greatest French coach. So he’s someone I trust 100% on the basketball level, the tactical level. He’s also an ambitious person, who respects my project and I feel like I’m having a quiet, ambitious year with him before the draft.
Hugo Besson said he came to Boulogne-Levallois to play one game a week and develop individually. Is this also your project?
Victor Wimpanyama: naturally. One game a week is really the perfect shape. You don’t need to risk playing any more. Frankly, for development, there is nothing better than this. I want to go back to what I was doing and had less time to do. This means individual work with different trainers and bodybuilding with Guillaume Alquier, who has also just signed with Boulogne-Levallois.
You had two good performances last week with two games with 34 points. Everything revolves around you. Is this the kind of responsibility you’ve been looking for in Metropolitans, to be able to show you what you can do and have a group focused on you?
Victor Wimpanyama: It is in particular what I came for, what I had the certainty of being here. It’s something we don’t really know, but it’s hard to empower young people in French basketball. Unlike the US, we are often outdone here. Personally, I’ve never played in my age group. So enabling is a bit more complicated. It’s already my third year as a professional, so it’s time to take charge. Ultimately, in my life, I’ve rarely had the chance to have a collegiate team more or less headed towards me. When I was at U15, I played at U18. When I was in U16, I played for Espoirs. So it was always a challenge against the older players and it was difficult to integrate into a team, as I experienced at Nanterre. I think that, unlike the United States, in France, we lack this empowerment of young people. They are two different schools.
A lot of people were hoping to see you at the European Championships. How did you watch the competition? Did you want to go to the field when you saw the Blues play?
Victor Wimpanyama: I followed closely the results of the France team. And yes, it was hard to watch at times, because this team really pissed us off. We have survived many times thanks to miracles and it was very emotional. Of course, it’s frustrating at times, because I tell myself I might have been able to bring my stone into the building. But it is a team that I trust and know that in the future there will be great performances and great medals with this team.