When the name of Pape Sy got called during the NBA Draft ceremony, there was a bit of confusion as nearly anybody had the French guard on its radar. Nobody except the Atlanta Hawks which was also the only Franchise that worked him out before the Draft. Who is this guy that got even “big man” comparisons as his height or position was not even known by some of the major news outlets.
Pape Sy was born in the small North-Western France city of Loudéac which is described as a “very pretty market town with many traditional buildings and mediaeval streets to enjoy” by Wikipedia. This does not really sound like the typical background of most of the French athletes that often come out of the suburbs of Paris or from French oversea territories. However, Loudéac has now among its most famous personalities two basketball players which indeed are siblings. Penda Sy is a French women international player and Pape Sy has been drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. Basketball is in the genes of the family, there is no doubt about it.
After learning the game in the local club, Pape Sy moved first to Massy before entering the Youth Teams of Le Havre in 2004 at the age of 16. The guard, who was known for his excellent shooting touch already at a very young age continued to grow in his game but also in height and reaches now an excellent 1m97 or 6 feet 6 without shoes. After several seasons in the U21 League, Sy earned a roster spot on the professional squad in 2009 and 2009/2010 was his first real season in the French top League LNB. After a slow start, Sy earned more and more minutes and was a clear back-up option on the PG position at the end of the season. You can watch some highlights of his year with Le Havre here or check out the video below of the excellent French InternetTV show “Vis mon match” of Poitiers Basket which features footage of the game versus Le Havre from approximately the 9minute of clip. (Pape Sy can be seen with #10 on the white team).
Athletic, good shot, great size; all the ingredients for a high-potential are there. But the limited stats for a 22 year old (he averaged 5.2ppg 1.7rpg 1.3apg and 0.6spg in just 14.2 minutes on the court) were certainly the reason why no NBA Team showed interest in him. He even got refused to play at the Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso unlike his team mate Ousmane Camara who was an early-entry candidate with 2.8ppg. However, at the total surprise for everyone even in France, Sy got a 2-day-workout with the Atlanta Hawks on the 15th and 16th June, a workout that he has however paid all the expenses by himself. After this only workout, Pape Sy did not really look impressed with the opposition he got by the two other guards and had enough time to explain his strengths to the Hawks TV.
The Hawks themselves seemed very impressed as well as they told Sy that they are going to draft him in the second round but he needs to remain discreet. They probably have not seen so many athletic, tall PGs with an excellent shooting touch over their workouts. Therefore the team from Georgia wanted absolutely secure their pick on him. Sy did not do any other workouts and the absence in Treviso helped the Hawks to be the only team really aware of his potential. Coach Larry Drew was more than happy that it worked out like this as he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution before.
I’d never heard of him. I thought those guys (Darington Hobson and Stanley Robinson) would eat him up, but this guy challenged those guys. He didn’t back down.
And then, the incredible for most outsiders happened. The Atlanta Hawks picked Pape Sy with their 53rd pick in the NBA Draft 2010. The French kid has arrived where nobody expected him to be, his name was called in the Madison Square Garden and he got interviewed by Craig Sager for NBA TV. You could really see a young man that was so happy and proud about what has happened to him.
After the Draft, the Hawks staff could also come up with what they really knew about Pape Sy and coach Larry Drew revealed why he wanted the guard from Le Havre come over absolutely to Georgia.
I was really really impressed by Pape Sy’s workout. I was very intrigued with his size, he has a great body and he really plays hard, being very aggressive defensively.
Now it is up to Pape, whose first name in French means Pope, to have a better experience in Atlanta than fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw who never really broke out with the Hawks. But as several blogs related already, the last 6-7 tall player coming out of France and playing for the Hawks was Dominique Wilkins. The goals are high for Sy who now has to grow another step from his rural hometown Loudéac to the multi-million metropolis in the South of the United States.