Whether you follow basketball from near or far, chances are that the name Victor Wembanyama rings a bell. And for good reason, the one who is now known as Wemby is a true anomaly in the world of basketball.
For your information, basketball is a popular sport in France and the country produced great NBA players such as Tony Parker, or even Rudy Gobert.
Never a player of his size had shown such physical qualities. Let’s look back at the young and already very prolific career of the player that all NBA franchises are likely to snatch up at Draft 2023.
The San Antonio Spurs managed to be the luckiest one by selecting the French players in the 1st position for the Draft 2023.
Victor Wembanyama: Technical Details
Date of birth: January 4, 2004 (19 years old)
Birthplace: Le Chesnay, Yvelines (Next to Paris)
Height: 2,22m (7.3 ft)
Weight: 95 kg (210 lbs)
Preferred positions: Strong winger (Post 4)
Professional career: 2019 – Today
- Nanterre 92 (2019 – 2021)
- ASVEL (2021 – 2022)
- Metropolitans 92 (2022 – 2023)
- France A Team (2022 – Today)
- San Antonio Spurs NBA (2023 – Today)
Awards and Honors:
- Silver medal at the European U16 Championships (2019)
- Silver medal at the Under-19 World Cup (2021)
- Best Newcomer of the French Championship x2 (2021, 2022)
- French champion with ASVEL (2022)
- Winner and MVP of the LNB All-Star Game (2022)
10 Things to Know about Victor Wembanyama
- Victor Wembanyama is a giant among giants
It goes without saying that basketball players are known to be particularly tall. But even among his peers, Victor Wembanyama is an anomaly. He belongs to the very closed club of “7-footers” (meaning players measuring more than 2m13). From the top of his 2m22, he culminates at 23 cm more than the average NBA player (measuring 1m99). A definite advantage on the court.
Of course, his singular height comes from his parents. His father and his mother, both high-level athletes, are respectively 1m98 (6 ft 6) and 1m91 (6 ft 3). That’s where he gets his gigantic shoe size (55, or 20.5 in US size) which has forced him for years to have custom-made basketball shoes. This is also where he gets his extraordinary wingspan of 2m43 (8 ft). Here again, he is an anomaly since only two players before him have had such an arm span in the history of the NBA.
- Victor Wembanyama has outstanding qualities for a player of his size
Victor Wembanyama has physical qualities that are very unusual for a player of his stature. Despite his extraordinary size, the young Frenchman remains very light, weighing only 95 kg (210 lbs). This gives him mobility, explosiveness, and dexterity that is much closer to playmakers than to centers. It is largely what appealed to his coaches at a young age and which has earned him the praise of the basketball world.
- Victor Wembanyama was acclaimed by the greatest before he even played his first NBA game
At just 19 years old, Victor Wembanyama has been praised by some of the biggest names in the game even though he has yet to sign his first professional NBA contract. The prodigy is making a name for himself day by day, so much so that everyone agrees that he will be the first (top) pick in the NBA Draft on June 22, 2023. From Lebron James to Stephen Curry to Tony Parker, here is a collection of quotes about him.
Lebron James: “He’s an alien. I’ve never seen anyone as graceful and fluid as he is on the field..”
Stephen Curry: “He’s the perfect player. The one everyone wants to be when they create their character on NBA2K.”
Tony Parker: “He’s a unique talent. We’ve never seen that in the history of basketball.. […] He has a unique set of skills in terms of his size, his fluidity, and his shooting.”
Kevin Durant: “He is the embodiment of the evolution of basketball. A player of more than 2m20 able to do absolutely everything on the court. […] With his arrival, the NBA has reason to be concerned.”
- Victor Wembanyama rejected FC Barcelona when he was younger
In 2018, Victor participated in a tournament with the best European prospects in Spain. During this tournament, he wore the colors of Barça and the team finished in third place. Already demonstrating an outstanding talent at just 14 years old, he caught the eye of Catalan coaches who were quick to make him an offer to join the club.
Despite the aura and prestige of FCB (currently considered the best club in Europe), Victor Wembanyama decided to refuse and pursue his career in France. The reason? The Catalan coaches would have been too kind to him, not telling him what was wrong with his game and therefore not pushing him to get the best out of himself.
- Victor Wembanyama holds the record for most counters in a World Cup
Despite his young age, Wemby is already racking up stats and has several records to his name. At the Under 19 World Cup, Victor averaged 14 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game. These outstanding stats helped the French team win the silver medal. In all international competitions, no one has ever averaged as many blocks as Victor Wembanyama did during this tournament.
- Victor Wembanyama had versatility never seen before
Generally speaking, 7-footers are confined to the center position. In this role, they can make the most of their size by scoring and grabbing rebounds. However, his rare skill set for his size makes him a true Swiss Army knife capable of excelling on both offense and defense.
On the offensive end, his size allows him to dunk while barely having to jump while his wingspan makes him capable of shooting 3-pointers without any other player being able to intercept his shots. On defense, his great size coupled with his explosiveness allows him to cover a maximum amount of ground while always being ready to block his opponents’ shots.
- Victor Wembanyama comes from a family of athletes and basketball players
Victor Wembanyama is first and foremost a sports enthusiast. And this passion literally runs in his veins. His father had a career in athletics, with long jump, high jump, and triple jump as his favorite disciplines. His passion for basketball comes from his mother, Élodie de Fautereau, a former professional player and coach, who was Victor’s very first coach.
And the latter is not the only one to continue the family heritage since his older sister is also a professional basketball player, who was crowned European champion of the under-16 with the French team. Finally, his younger brother, 15 years old, is also destined for a professional career in basketball. He is currently a player for ASVEL in the under-18 team.
- Victor Wembanyama learned English by watching shows and scrolling through Instagram
When his career began to take off and he realized that he could fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA, Wemby made it his mission to learn English. A player of his stature could have easily hired a tutor, but he chose the self-taught route. He learned the language by watching Netflix series and reading posts on social networks.
After a few years of practice, he is now fluent in English and is even able to read books in the language of Shakespeare. An avid reader of fiction, he has since read all of the Game of Thrones novels in their original version.
- Victor Wembanyama was given the nickname “Wemby” by the NBA itself
If there is one thing that basketball fans love more than anything else, it’s finding nicknames for their favorite player. During his young career, Victor Wembanyama was given many nicknames like “The Unicorn” or “The Alien”. But none of them really convinced the main interested party.
None, until the NBA account itself, nicknamed him “Wemby” in an Instagram post after a tour in Las Vegas. And to say the least, Victor appreciated the nickname as he was quick to change his Instagram username to @wemby.
- Victor Wembanyama does not mince his words
Despite his young age, Victor Wembanyama is not shy about speaking his mind loudly. Last February, the young man made tabloid headlines when he communicated his outrage on Instagram following a fake interview of him published by FIBA. Following the outcry this caused on the networks, the International Basketball Federation quickly apologized for its mistake and for not having checked its sources better.
And as we briefly mentioned, the name Wembanyama has not finished resounding around the world since Victor’s little brother, Oscar Wembanyama, has a great chance of moving to the A’s in the next few years, as he is currently playing at ASVEL (Lyon basket club) in the U18’s.
We hope that through this article, you have been able to learn more about the Victor Wembanyama phenomenon. If you want to learn more about sports in France, please visit our section dedicated to sports in France.
Translated into English by Sacha