Victor Wembanyama is the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, with expectations of stardom
NEW YORK (AP) — Victor Wembanyama is the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, headed to San Antonio with enormous expectations to become basketball’s newest sensation.
The selection of the 19-year-old from France that had been a foregone conclusion for months was announced by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, followed by chants of “Wemby! Wemby” from a group of Spurs fans waving signs from the first row of seats.
Wembanyama arrives with far more height and hype than most No. 1 picks. Listed at 7-foot-4, he dominated his French league in his final season there, leading all players in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
Now he makes the move to the NBA, perhaps as the best prospect since LeBron James came out of high school in 2003. Wembanyama brings a package of skills that seem perfect for the modern NBA and too vast for one player, with the size of a center and the shooting and ballhandling ability of a guard.
“Hearing that sentence from Adam Silver, I’ve dreamed of it so much,” Wembanyama said, tears in his eyes as he left the stage with his Spurs cap on and hugged his siblings. “I’ve got to cry.”
Wembanyama was the center of attention throughout the draft process and sat in the middle of the green room — for the short time he was there, anyway. He smiled for young fans who screamed “Victor!” as he walked around the arena, even encouraging one to throw him a basketball that he signed and tossed back up into the stands.
The Charlotte Hornets took Alabama freshman forward Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick.
Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite, whose bling-filled jacket stood in sharp contrast to Wembanyama’s solid green look, was the No. 3 pick by the Portland Trail Blazers.
It was during a two-game series between teams featuring Wembanyama and Henderson last October in Las Vegas that Wembanyama solidified himself as the main man in this draft, scoring 37 and 36 points in front of scouts and some future opponents. His highlights, such as a follow dunk of his own missed 3-pointer, became can’t-miss content for basketball fans during the past season.
Wembanyama is the Spurs’ third No. 1 pick and the first since Tim Duncan in 1997, which led to a stretch of five NBA championships through 2014 before they struggled in recent seasons.