Rudy Gobert is currently the hottest name in terms of European chances to get selected in the NBA Draft 2013 among the lottery picks. As his game is already pretty much known and as we reported already several times about him, I wanted to go for a little more background information on the French inside player that is currently scouted by dozens of NBA executives that are touring through the European winter.
More than 10 NBA scouts have for example made the trip to Cholet, Gobert’s current club, to follow the game against Strasbourg last weekend. This should have been particularly interesting as Strasbourg has Alexis Ajinca on its roster. However, it did not come to the duel between two players that have already drawn some comparisons as Ajinca was injured. Ajinca, a former NBA lottery pick could not (yet) impose himself in the big league and came back to France to dominate in the ProA. Gobert though is still in the learning process to become the future of the French National Team.
In his family, there were already big hopes to produce the “next big thing” several decades ago. In fact, Rudy Gobert’s father, Rudy Bourgarel, was once considered as the future of the French National Team as well. Bourgarel played together with Rik Smits, the Dutch big guy, at Marist in the NCAA. Rudy (senior) was measured at 2m14 and 104 kilos when he arrived in the United States but had only 2 and half years of basketball behind him. USA Today even talked about the arrival of the French big man and the hype around a potential first round pick started. Predicted to be among the big men in the pool for the NBA Draft 1989, Bourgarel had to skip his Senior year in College though because he had to come back to France to do his military service. Unfortunately for him, he got dispensed of it a little later but it was too late to go back to Marist. Gobert’s father never got drafted, played two seasons for Racing Paris (5.1ppg and 3.3rpg) followed by three more games for Saint-Quentin and then retired for personal reasons.
Now, Rudy (junior) Gobert is at the top of the stage and scouted by nearly every NBA franchise. The expectations are very high and Mock Drafts see him among the Top 5 picks. The hype is getting bigger and the international media are starting to know the 20 year old French center. This brought his coach Jean-Manuel Sousa to tell the press that they should let Gobert alone and work on his skills. But a recent article of Basketnews was very clear about what is expected from the 2m16 tall Gobert. “Born to dominate” was the title of five-pager where the French journalists describe Gobert as the “future” of French Basketball.
Rudy Gobert explains in this article that his goal is to become “the perfect player on defense” and admits as well that he is aware of his potential but also the expectations and hopes in him. According to his coach, Gobert is a workhorse in practice and works a lot individually in additional practice sessions. Until now, he only shows his potential in short sequences and he needs to become more concentrated on the little things on the technical and tactical side. Mentally, he has to become more stable, says his coach. He has some moments of absence on the court, he has to eliminate all this in order to become the player everybody expects him to be. Gobert is aware of these problems, he started to work with a mental coach and he can see some progress.
The next step for Gobert is the NBA. He has already declared on multiple occasions that he wants to go the NBA next season, without having played in the Euroleague. Before that, he wants to win the French MVP title this season. But when he works out, in Cholet, he does not think on his next opponents in the ProA. He imagines playing against Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol. Physically, he wants to become similar to JaVale McGee and technically like Pau Gasol. If Rudy Gobert can fulfill his dreams, all the doors are open for him. The whole French basketball world hopes that the best is yet to come for Gobert and that he will not only realize his dreams but also those that his father could never achieve.