Magic F Paolo Banchero: ‘I’m planning to play for the Italian national team’

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Magic Paolo Banchero on Lakers LeBron James - 'That's been my favorite player since I was a kid'

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero is already setting NBA records after going first overall in this year’s draft, and now he’s setting his sights on playing for the Italian national team in the future.

Banchero received his Italian passport in the summer of 2020. The wing is also eligible to play for the country’s national team. However, the rookie is unsure when he’ll play.

A few NBA betting sites are giving the Magic the fourth-lowest odds to win the championship in 2023. Nonetheless, if their backcourt can stay healthy, some sportsbooks might increase their playoff chances.

While on R.J. Hampton’s “Young Person” podcast, the Magic forward explained the process and why he decided to pursue an Italian passport in the first place.

“When I was 16, the Italian national team reached out to my dad,” said the No. 1 overall pick. “They were like, ‘Does he have Italian roots? Can he get citizenship?’ And my dad told them yes.”

Magic rookie Paolo Banchero wants to play for the Italian national team in the future

Although neither Paolo nor his father have ever been to Italy, they want to go. “So, the whole process started, I flew to San Francisco multiple times to meet them at the Italian embassy, we had a few meetings, and I ended up getting my Italian passport,” continued the Magic forward.

“I’m planning to play for the Italian national team. I’m not sure when. I haven’t been out there yet, but man, the amount of love I’m getting from there it’s crazy, man. It’s crazy. I can’t wait to go to Italy.”

In 2002, Banchero was born in Seattle, Washington. As a teenager, he played football and basketball for O’Dea High School. Then, the 19-year-old played one season in the NCAA with Duke. A trip to Italy would mean the world to the Magic rookie.

“My dad’s side is Italian,” continued the Magic wing. “His great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Italy and then moved all the way to Seattle and built a family there.

So, my father’s grandfather and his father they all from Seattle but with Italian roots. You know, growing up, I was always wondering why my name was Paolo Banchero, it was so different from all the other kids.

My father’s name is Mario, my uncle’s name is Angelo, my other uncle’s name is Armando, and my brother’s name is Giulio, so when I got a little bit older, my father explained to me about our roots in Italy. You know, my father has never been to Italy, so we’re kinda new to it.”

Through seven games with the Magic, the rookie is averaging 22.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game. Considering Banchero is the first teenager in NBA history to record at least 20 points in his first three games, Italians would love to see what the young star can do at the international level.

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