Hawks take home French sensation Zaccharie Risacher at No. 1 in NBA Draft

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For the first time in history, French players have been selected as the first pick in back-to-back NBA Drafts, as Zaccharie Risachaer was chosen this time by Atlanta. The forward was the first of four compatriots taken in the first round, as he followed in the footsteps of big man Victor Wembanyama, who was also No. 1 and became Rookie of the Year with San Antonio.

Now the new Hawks star became the fourth overall international prospect to be chosen as the league’s top pick, joining the legendary Chinese Yao Ming (Houston Rockets, 2002), Italian center Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors, 2006), and of course, Wembanyama.

After the draft, Risacher was still in disbelief. “It’s a blessing, you know,” the 19-year-old said. “So exciting. There’s a lot of feelings and emotions right now. I don’t know what to say, but it’s definitely special. I’m so blessed.”

Zaccharie played last season for JL Bourg in France’s LNB Elite league, posting averages of 11.1 points and 4 rebounds throughout both the French competition and the EuroCup. He also comes from a basketball family, as he’s the son of a well-known athlete called Stephane Risacher, who earned a silver medal with his nation in the 2000 Olympic Games.

Despite his age, the forward is convinced he can contribute greatly to his new team. “I’m real excited about what’s going to happen,” he said this Wednesday. “I just want to do my best to help the team. I just feel like I can help a lot. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to be able to get on the court with those great players.”

While another Frenchmen went on No. 2, Houston took the third pick of the draft because it had acquired it from Brooklyn during the James Harden trade three years ago. This meant the Rockets took home Reed Sheppard, who is the sharpshooter that dropped in 52% of his shots from the deep with the Wildcats last season.

“It was unbelievable … a dream come true,” said the former Kentucky star. “… They have a really good thing going in Houston. The coach [Ime Udoka] is really good. They have a bunch of really young, athletic guys, and we’ll be able to play fast. It’s going to be fun.”

Four French players were selected in the NBA Draft’s first round, including No. 2 Alex Sarr who was taken by the Wizards

Another 19-year-old made the headlines last night, who happens to be another fellow Frenchman. We are talking about Alex Sarr, who was picked first than guard Reed Sheppard and even another compatriot Tidjane Salaun, who went to the Hornets at No. 6.

When asked about this phenomenon, the No. 1 pick of the NBA Draft revealed this made him proud. “That’s amazing,” Risacher said. “We are trying to represent our country, and I’m so glad to be a part of it. There is more players coming in. I’m really proud of being a part of the success of my country.”

Sarr, who will now represent Washington in the NBA, shared why this doesn’t come as a surprise and can only imagine the French team in the future. “It just shows the amount of talent that we have in France. I’m really excited for Zacc. I think our national team is really going to be good,” said the No. 2 pick.

Completing the fourth and last French prospect who made it inside the first round, guard Pacome Dadiet went off the board as the New York Knicks took him with the 25th selection.