He’s a 7-foot, 3-inch shot-blocking center who can dribble, pass and shoot three-pointers, said to be the best basketball prodigy since LeBron James 20 years ago. He’s Victor Wembanyama, a 19-year-old phenom from France, projected to be the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft scheduled tonight in Brooklyn—and a future marketing star who already has a deal with Nike.
Wembanyama’s package of size and skills make him a unique figure in basketball with few obvious peers. Scouts compare him to versatile hoops stars such as Kevin Durant or Kristaps Porzingis—only bigger (Even his height is up for debate).
James, after witnessing Wembanyama play an exhibition last year, referred to him as an “alien,” remarking it was a stronger word than “unicorn” in assessing his skills. Observers are almost as impressed with Wembanyama’s smile and charisma, saying he, like James, could also be a brand endorsement star—if he so chooses.
“Victor Wembanyama shows the promise of being an immediate marketing sensation for companies of all types across the endorsement spectrum,” Nick DePaula, a writer who covers the NBA sneaker deal and endorsement landscape, said in an email. “He will have an instant global fanbase following his path as a rising NBA star. Wemby has already shown to have a unique blend of not only one-of-a-kind skill and ability on the court but also a presence and persona consistent with being someone that brands will want to align with to highlight products and campaigns on their behalf.”