Basketball: Killian Hayes chosen in 7th position in the NBA Draft, unheard of for a Frenchman

“The Detroit Pistons choose in 7th position … Killian Hayes”: at the announcement of NBA boss Adam Silver, the 19-year-old leader became Wednesday the highest drafted player in the history of French basketball.

Coronavirus pandemic requires, there was not the traditional handshake with the commissioner of the League, nor the bubbling of the full Barclay Center, where the ceremony should have initially taken place in Brooklyn. But that didn’t stop the cries of joy shouted by those close to Hayes upon hearing his name live via videoconference.

He especially felt “a great relief”, he reacted thereafter. “Because in my head I knew it was Detroit, but nothing was guaranteed. So I was really happy. You could see the reaction of my mom and dad, who were jumping for joy. There is a lot of excitement. I feel super proud of myself ”.

Trained in Cholet

It must be said that he has something, because the moment is historic: he does better than the leader Frank Ntilikina, drafted in 8th position in 2017 by the New York Knicks, and than the pivot Joakim Noah selected in 9th position by Chicago in 2007. He is the 19th French player to be drafted in the first round, 23 years after the pioneer Tariq Abdul-Wahad, chosen in 11th position by the Sacramento Kings.

Even though he is a native of Lakeland, Florida, Hayes, who will make his debut in the toughest championship in the world from December 22, will discover in Detroit an environment totally different from those in which he was built as that young player.

He was trained in Cholet, like a certain Rudy Gobert before him, where his American father, DeRon, also played pro; then went to fight in the 1st German division last year, within the Ratiopharm Ulm, in order to harden up.

Meteoric trajectory

So far its trajectory has been meteoric: European champion U16 in 2017, vice-world champion U17 in 2018, twice French champion U18 (2016-2017, 2017-2018), champion of France Espoirs (2017-2018 ), this left-hander, tall (1.96 m) and athletic, capable of composure in close matches, has the potential to win very quickly among the holders among the Pistons.

He will join a team whose back line was somewhat the weak point, apart from the presence of Derrick Rose. “I will obviously learn from him, he has such knowledge of the game, of the NBA …”, he welcomed.

Hayes will be surrounded by another star, winger Blake Griffin, and will find another “Frenchie”, Seykou Doumbouya, who has settled into the workforce last season. What to facilitate its adaptation.

“Inspire young French people”

A fate à la Tony Parker, best French in the history of the NBA (four rings of champion with San Antonio), is what we can wish him the best. “I want to be remembered as someone who wants to win,” he said earlier in the week.

“I know basketball is gaining momentum in France, but it’s not as important as football. I want to inspire young French people, make them realize that they can go to the NBA and that their dreams can come true, ”he added.

The first part of the way is done, and in its wake, Theo Maledon was drafted in 34th position, in the second round, by Philadelphia who immediately sent him to Oklahoma City, to recover in an exchange the shooter Danny Green. A slight disappointment for the 18-year-old leader who hoped to be drafted in the first round. But less than for Killian Tillie, Abdoulaye Ndoye and Mouhamed Thiam, ultimately not drafted.

Earlier, fullback Anthony Edwards was chosen first by the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he will form a promising line with pivot Karl-Anthony Towns and fullback D’Angelo Russell. Inside James Wiseman was taken in 2nd by the Golden State Warriors, while the Charlotte Hornets, franchise owned by Michael Jordan, opted for point guard LaMelo Ball in 3rd position.

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