Wembanyama chosen by Spurs as top pick in 2023 NBA Draft

France’s Victor Wembanyama was chosen with the top pick in the NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, June 22, sparking wild celebrations as the Texas club reveled in landing the gifted teenager seen as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The 7ft 4in (2.24m) 19-year-old hugged family members as the Spurs confirmed a decision which had been a mere formality ever since San Antonio were handed the No.1 selection in the Draft last month.

“Just accomplishing something that I’ve been dreaming about my whole life,” a tearful Wembanyama told ESPN following the selection revealed by NBA commissioner Adam Silver at the Barclays Center in New York.

“Hearing that sentence from Adam Silver, I’ve dreamed of it so much – I’ve gotta cry,” Wembanyama added.

Wembanyama is widely regarded as a transformational talent, who arrives in the NBA as the most coveted No. 1 pick since LeBron James entered the league in 2003.

In San Antonio, Spurs fans packed into the team’s 19,000-capacity AT&T Center to watch the draft ceremony on a giant screen and roared their appreciation as Wembanyama’s selection was confirmed.

Wembanyama has cut a relaxed figure since arriving in the United States earlier this week, brushing off the soaring hype that has surged in the build-up to the draft.

On Thursday, the Frenchman, wearing a dark green suit, happily signed autographs for fans in the minutes before the draft ceremony got under way.

In an interview with ESPN before his selection, Wembanyama said he was relishing the challenge of being a star both on and off the court.

“I know I can bring so much more than just basketball to a franchise,” Wembanyama said.

“My goal is always going to be to win titles, obviously. But also to the community, the franchise, to the fan base I know I can bring so much more.” (AFP)