It is almost 5 p.m. in Miami, almost 11 p.m. in France. Barely out of his training, Ousmane Dieng displays a magnificent smile a few days before the NBA Draft. A real turning point in the life of Lot-et-Garonnais who started basketball in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. He evokes, without pressure, this appointment, and the rest of his already phenomenal career. Quite simply and with humility, he answers at length the questions of our editorial staff.
How have you been since arriving in the United States? What is a young man’s day like as he prepares for the NBA Draft?
I’m pretty well, everything is going perfectly. I’ve been in Miami since May 1st. I get up at 7 a.m. for basketball practice at 8 a.m. After I come back, I have a weight training session at noon. And afterwards, training from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. I am coached by a coach from Miami and I also have coaches from my agency (Editor’s note: Ousmane Dieng works with a specific team that surrounds him in his daily life).
On the night of Thursday to Friday, you will participate in the Draft. We imagine that you do not yet know your future franchise? Do you already have the pressure on your shoulders?
It’s true, I will discover the franchise that will choose me at the same time as everyone else on draft night. It’s exciting, at least it will be a surprise for everyone. Me, I just want to join a team that will take the time to develop me. For the moment, I have no pressure. I’m just happy to be here, I’m waiting for the d-day.
Do you realize you’re going to step onto the draft stage and shake hands with NBA boss Adam Silver?
I think every basketball player has imagined one day hearing their name called in the Draft. It’s going to be special, it’s incredible.
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Considering what the NBA stands for, how have you been coping these past few weeks?
This is a dream ! I am very happy to have received the invitation to the green room (Editor’s note: which includes the 20 players drafted to the highest positions). I don’t know if I expected to get there, but I worked for it anyway. But nothing is certain, everything will be done at the time of the draft. I live my dream without asking myself any questions, I continue to work.
How long have you dreamed of playing in the NBA?
It’s always been a dream since I started basketball. And then it turned into a goal at the age of 14-15 when I started the Hope Center and INSEP.
What memories do you have of your debut with the orange ball?
I started basketball because my dad was into it. I was always in a room watching the Villeneuve-sur-Lot matches. I already loved this sport because we play for fun.
What were your inspirations?
When I started basketball, I watched Kobe Bryant a lot and now I watch Brandon Ingram or even Paul George a lot. Last summer, I had the chance to exchange with Paul George precisely when I went to Los Angeles, it was cool. It’s unbelievable but I also tell myself that in six months I’m going to play with or against this type of player so it allows you to see the level you need.
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Was there a key moment in your career that tipped the scales in the right direction?
Yes, it corresponds to the period after the Hope Pole, when I returned to INSEP. At the same time, we finished second in the European U16 championships with the France team and I had a good tournament so from that moment on, the NBA became a real objective.
Were your stints at the Federal Center and the New Zealand Breakers decisive in getting to this point?
I think yes. I learned a lot in National 1, to be able to confront adults from an early age, it was necessarily beneficial for me. After that, I wanted to continue this momentum of playing against adults, that’s why I made the decision to leave. It was a turning point, a very good choice. Even if the beginning of the season was difficult, I improved a lot in a fairly short time.
During your stay in Oceania last year, the beginnings were a bit difficult. For what reasons ?
I think especially because the level was completely different. The players are much stronger, everything is faster and everything is more physical. Also, I had to adapt because Australia is far from France. I just had to find my rhythm so I kept working and it paid off in the end.
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Were there key people throughout your career?
Inevitably, I will quote all my coaches. First of all, my father then Arnaud Voisin, in Villeneuve, my coaches from INSEP: Bernard Faure, Nicolas Absalon, Lamine Kebe and also my assistant NBL coach Mody Maor, who was very important to me.
What are the characteristics of Ousmane Dieng’s game?
For my height (2m08), I am a very versatile player. I can defend, attack the basket or even shoot at three points. My vision of the game and my passing quality are also part of my strengths. Since I arrived in Miami, I’ve been working on my whole game a bit.
It’s not complicated to be so far from his family so young?
I think I’m used to it because from a very young age, even if I was in Mont-de-Marsan or Paris, we didn’t see each other all the time. Even when I went to Australia, I didn’t see my family for the first six months and that was fine.
Is it important to come back to Villeneuve-sur-Lot from time to time?
Yes of course, that’s where I grew up. Every time I have vacation I try to come back and I train in the Descartes room. I still have friends there, we talk to each other on the networks because I haven’t come back since I left for Australia.
A youngster from Lot-et-Garonne soon to be drafted. Are you aware that it is you who will become a reference for the next generations of 47?
I hope that all the young people who play basketball don’t think that since they come from Lot-et-Garonne, they won’t be able to succeed. You just have to believe in your dreams and work.
Are you ready to handle this turning point in your life?
I think yes. I am well surrounded with my family and my agents. Everyone thinks it’s the finish line but for me it’s just the beginning, the goal is to stay the longest in the league.
What a long way since the first dribbles in the Descartes room…
(Laughs). That’s it, already in New York (place of the draft) the room will be much bigger. I don’t know if I realize yet but it’s amazing.
How will the post draft go?
I will go to the city where I was taken and the preparation for the Summer League will start immediately after. I may come back to France a bit before the big start of the holiday season.
After this goal is achieved, we imagine that there is another finish line to cross?
Become NBA champion and All Star.
The Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Ousmane Dieng’s other goal
If he is today greatly focused on his career in the NBA, Ousmane Dieng does not forget to keep an eye on the France team. Especially since the Villeneuvois has already had the opportunity, in 2019, to compete in an international competition in the blue jersey. “It was during Euro U16,” he recalls. “It went well, I had a good tournament and we finished second. Indeed, the Blues had made a good figure in this competition by losing in the final against Spain. Ousmane Dieng had played 7 games and totaled 8.9 points per game.
After joining a franchise, Ousmane Dieng has the ambition to continue his development to tick new boxes. In his line of sight, a major competition stands before him: the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. “The French team is important to me. It would be an honor for me to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris. »
The Villeneuvois must therefore take all the opportunities that will be given to him in the big American league to make a name for himself and, why not, be part of the France group, Olympic vice-champion at the Tokyo Games.
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