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Countrymen Offer Scouting Report on International Draft Prospect

Bilal Coulibaly and Victor Wembanyama, 2023 NBA Draft picks and fellow countrymen

With no clear-cut favorite at No. 1, the 2024 NBA Draft could turn out a few ways.

As of now, French center Alexandre Sarr is projected to be the top pick in the upcoming draft, which takes place from Jun. 26-27. His countryman, Zaccharie Risacher, is also in the running. A forward prospect playing for JL Bourg in the LNB Elite, France’s top basketball division, Risacher was recently scouted in person by the Atlanta Hawks’ front office. The Hawks, who hold the top pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, can shore up their frontcourt with either player.

With the arrival of 2024 Rookie of the Year, Victor Wembanyama, French prospects are now en vogue. Similar to how the rise of Nikola Jokic coincided with a heightened interest in Serbian prospects, Wembanyama’s greatness has had an enormous impact on how international players are viewed. Though France has a long history of producing NBA players, from four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to four-time NBA champion Tony Parker, they didn’t generate nearly as much interest in or respect for their country’s basketball culture.

Indeed, the hype behind Wembanyama is so great it may have even played a part in his former teammate being drafted in the lottery.

Bilal Coulibaly, Alexandre Sarr Offer Zaccharie Risacher Scouting Report

Heading into the 2023 NBA Draft, Bilal Coulibaly rose up draft boards, teams enticed by his youth and two-way upside.

However, if Wembanyama hadn’t been beside him that whole time, it’s unclear whether they would have been paying attention at all. Coulibaly wouldn’t be the first prospect to garner attention when scouts came to watch a different player. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to think about just how much Wembanyama might have indirectly influenced Coulibaly’s future.

A year later and two of the top French prospects are projected to be top-3 draft picks. This time though, it’s not just Wembanyama’s long reach that’s drawing attention to their play. Coulibaly, now with the Washington Wizards after they drafted him seventh overall, is doing his part as well.

“Risacher, he’s got a lot of talent. A lot of talent… Great shotmaker, can create his own shot. Really good player,” Coulibaly tells Monumental Sports Network’s Chase Hughes.

“I would say he’s a great shooter,” he adds. “He can put the ball in the basket at any time; in the paint, 3-pointers…”

Currently averaging 10.7 points per game on 38.8 percent from 3, Risacher is a dynamic shot-maker. Converting his scoring to its per 36 counterpart (16.9) helps highlight this. Adept at creating scoring opportunities of the dribble with his ball-handling, finishing ability, and touch on pull-up jumpers, he’s a three-level scorer.

Risacher’s competition for the No. 1 spot also turned in a scouting report. Sarr is more familiar with Risacher than even Coulibaly, as the two were teammates on the French junior national team for three years.

“I know (Risacher) really well,” Sarr says. “I think he’s a really good shooter and a good defender, too.”

It’s this aspect of Risacher’s game that doesn’t get talked about much. While his true position is a bit of a toss-up, he has the frame and agility to guard multiple positions. His foot speed allows him to guard along the perimeter. With his long arms, he has a knack for generating blocks and steals.

Game Recognizes Game

Though Sarr and Coulibaly don’t know each other well, they have a mutual respect for one another. Of course, their patriotism may play a part in that, as the two grew up about 350 miles away from each other in France. However, as the saying goes, game recognizes game.

While Sarr calls Coulibaly “a really good player,” Coulibaly says “I feel like (Sarr’s) very versatile… He can shoot the ball, he’s strong and tall.”

Will Wizards Draft Zaccharie Risacher?

The Wizards, who have the No. 2 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, could pick whoever the Hawks don’t select. Considering their roster construction, Sarr makes more sense than Risacher, especially after they traded Daniel Gafford. Nonetheless, with Washington’s backcourt appearing to be their weakest link, the Wizards could very well draft an entirely different prospect.


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