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When Rudy Gobert was little (or at least not so big)

Of course, when you see him like that today, it’s a little hard to believe. No, Rudy Gobert has not always been 2.15 m, nor had the wingspan of a maxi-format golden eagle (2.36 m) allowing him to humiliate the best interiors on the planet under the circle.

The young years of the pivot of the French basketball team took place at a normal height from the ground. A bit too much, even. When he joined the Picardy hope center, at 13, his body was experiencing growth problems. “He had a bone delay, explains Thibaut Vanbeselaere, who detected it at JSC Saint-Quentin and brought him to Amiens. Physically, his body was that of a 10-year-old child, when he was three years older. »

Don’t imagine a frail 1.45m kid desperately trying to throw a ball hard enough to reach the circle. When he arrives at the regional pole, Rudy Gobert still displays 1.75 m under the fathom. It must be said that he has something to hold on to. His father, Rudy Bourgarel, was a good 2.13m pivot, selected 19 times for the France team in the late 1980s. But Rudy was not as tall as he could have been in the era.

At the hope pole of Picardy, season 2005-2006/Credit Picardy Basketball Heritage

Question weight, it’s not that either. “He was very thin, he had, so to speak, no muscles,” continues Thibaut Vanbeselaere. So on the floor, his coaches do not see him as the boss who will fine the Picardy youth in the racket. “We didn’t really train him inside. On the contrary, he was playing rather far from the circle. On his two-year training, he was a point guard, winger and only occasionally near the basket. And then more specifically in position 3 [ailier] in second year. »

Hopefully it doesn’t radiate either. Far from it, even. The interested party recognizes it without problem. “I was not dominating at the time. Evan Fournier, who is of the same generation, was already above everyone with the Ile-de-France selection. This was not the case for me. I played winger, but I was not a great three-point shooter, nor a great striker,” he says in his blog on BasketballSession.

At the end of the pole hope, at 15, Rudy Gobert is not taken to Insep. The one who has just passed 1.90 m (“but, with an already very large arm span, which gave him a body not at all proportionate”, laughs his trainer) is finally committed to Cholet Basket (CB). This is where its history – and growth – will accelerate.

The training winger, still tender, is put “incubator” at the regional level. But even there, his performances do not raise the crowds. “It was complicated because he was not fast enough for this position, remembers Jean-François Martin, the director of the CB training center. And then he took inches, so we brought him closer to the circle. This is also what is atypical with him. Normally, we remove the players from the basket, it was the opposite. »

With the national cadets of Cholet, in 2008-2009/Credit Picardie Basket Patrimoine

His younger years in Maine-et-Loire were difficult. Her body is struggling to keep up with her growth spurts. “We had to adapt, for everything. He was an extraordinary young man, says Jean-François Martin. We gave him à la carte training, with a lot of rest and muscle building. In total, he only had to play fully one year out of the three. “If he still integrates the national cadets, international competitions are not yet for him. Until under 18 years old. It is only at this age that Gobert, very close to his final height with his 2.09 m – and his size 53 sneakers -, can finally express himself. And stir up the lusts of the NBA, which he joined in 2013.

“He was behind at the start compared to the best of his generation, and he is still in the process of making up for it. He will just now start to give his full measure, ”is convinced the trainer from Cholet. Given the performance of the guy (23) in the NBA this season and with the France team for a year, it promises. And that’s good for the Blues in their quest for a new European title.

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