The promised blue impressed the Duke coach with 22 points on his debut: “He is a special player”
Mike Krzyzewski in 42 seasons between Duke and Team Usa has coached a collection of champions: from Kobe Bryant to LeBron James, from Grant Hill to Zion Williamson. After just an official match of 2021-22, the 79-71 of his Blue Devils on Kentucky, he has no doubts: “Paolo Banchero is a star” he tells safely in the belly of Madison Square Garden. The blessing of the legendary coach K is the icing on the cake of a first time in college to be framed for the almost 19 year old (he will blow out the candles tomorrow) promised blue: 22 points in 31 ‘, despite the cramps and the infusion that the doctors gave him slipped into his right arm at the start of the second half. It was the confirmation on the court of everything that is said about Banchero: that he is so strong that the NBA will call him as first or second choice in the Draft 2022, that he can be the star of Italian basketball for the next decade.
Coach K observed Paolo closely all summer, during training. “It’s much better than it was a month ago because he learned to play well with and without the ball – says the 74-year-old guru who led the US to 3 Olympic gold medals between 2008 and 2016 -. He’s smart, and he’s already become a better athlete. He is a special player, easy to coach. I told him he needs to talk more, because he always thinks smart things and saying them will help him become a better leader. He will continue to improve, but he is a star and there is no doubt about that. Because he is comfortable with the ball in his hand, and is not common with his size (208 cm by 113 kg, ed). And then he is unique and you can already see that he has the right head. He had excellent parents, he was raised really well ”. Paolo, sitting next to him, collects the compliment with the same nonchalance with which he moved on the parquet of the legendary Madison Square Garden, in front of over 18 thousand people for his first official time as a college player: managing not to feel the pressure. “I have always kept my emotions under control, also because I have the utmost confidence in my teammates: it helps me not to think too much” says the Seattle native, who obtained an Italian passport thanks to his great-grandfather, born in the province of Genoa. This tranquility is part of what makes him unique, a maturity that the NBA has already fallen in love with, along with his defensive talent, his athleticism and his ability to play well in all roles, to be able to carry the ball and be practically lethal from medium range (7/8 inside the arch).
His Madison Square Garden debut was just the first step in Banchero’s college career, but one that has definitely put the spotlight on him, both in the NCAA and NBA. Banchero for now focuses on Duke (“Winning this first game was a relief”), but the NBA knocks heavily on his door, with the confrontation on November 26 in Gonzaga-Duke against Chet Holmgren, the center who will likely contend for him. the very first call to the Draft, already marked in red on the calendar. Banchero knows very well that this is just the beginning, that a year employed by coach K, with the pressure of a historic program like Duke in the last season of his guru coach, can only do him good. For when he will be in the NBA. And for when, perhaps as early as the 2023 World Cup, he will be the star of the Italy to whom he has promised and which is now cheering for him.
November 11 – 08:19
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Coach K crowns Banchero: “He is a star, he will be a great player because …”