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Victor Wembanyama Set to Fulfill Childhood Friend’s Lifelong Dream at Wizards vs Spurs

Published 01/20/2024, 10:57 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Victor Wembanyama came into the NBA with unprecedented hype and expectations. The rookie joined the NBA from a French professional team called Mets 92 and was anticipated to immediately assume the role of the best player on the Spurs’ roster. Thus far, he has lived up to those expectations. Another Mets 92 player and Wembanyama’s childhood friend, Bilal Coulibaly, entered the NBA through the 2023 NBA draft, albeit with considerably less attention and fanfare.

The Washington Wizards drafted Bilal Coulibaly with the 7th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and he did not face extensive scrutiny. This was because he was perceived more as a project player rather than one expected to make an immediate impact. However, Bilal Coulibaly has exceeded expectations from his pre-draft projections, establishing himself as one of the top defenders for the Wizards. On Saturday night, he has the opportunity to fulfill his childhood “dream” of playing in the NBA with Wembanyama.

USA Today via Reuters

In an interview, Coulibaly stated, “It’s going to be a dream, because we just wanted for each other to go to the league, and now we’re here, and we’re going to play each other. It’s going to be a fun time for sure.” Wembanyama’s Spurs are scheduled to face Coulibaly’s Wizards later tonight at the Capital One Arena in Washington DC.

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Even Wembanyama chimed in about his match-up with Coulibaly during an interview on Wednesday. He said, “At the time, it was just dreams and something crazy. But we happened to both make it here, and I’m just so proud of him. It is going to feel weird, for sure.” It will undoubtedly be a momentous occasion for both players, especially for Coulibaly given his tough road to the NBA.

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Bilal Coulibaly’s road to the NBA

Coulibaly began playing basketball at the age of eight for the Courbevoie Sport Basket. He transitioned to professional basketball in 2021 when he joined the under-21 side of the Metropolitans 92. Due to injuries to key players, Coulibaly was promoted to the senior team during the 2022-23 season. However, after just one year of professional basketball, the 19-year-old decided to enter the 2023 NBA Draft.

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Coming into the league, Coulibaly was a much less heralded prospect. However, this doesn’t diminish the fact that Coulibaly possesses abundant talent and significant potential for success on the NBA stage. Coulibaly has averaged 8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 26.3 minutes of playing time this season. He has shown immense promise in his limited time in the NBA, but can he become a star in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by:

Dushyant Singh

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One take at a time

Dushyant Singh is an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports. Ever since the Lakers’ Orlando Bubble victory, he has maintained a vigilant eye on the NBA with his research-heavy perspective, along with a specialization in covering predictive lineups. He keenly observes the evolving narratives that unfold each season.
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Edited by:

Ruth John