For the second consecutive year, a Quebecer was selected in the first round of the NBA draft on Thursday evening. The Rosemère Olivier-Maxence Prosper was chosen 24th overall by the Sacramento Kings, then immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks, according to ESPN.
Chris Boucher. Luguentz there. Bennedict Mathurin.
Now add Olivier-Maxence Prosper to this list of Quebecers in the big league.
As soon as NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his name, Prosper hugged his parents, Gaétan Prosper and Guylaine Blanchette, as well as his sister Cassandre. He wore a beaming smile as he stepped onto the stage.
The young man wore his Sacramento Kings cap in an interview with Sportsnet, but he was reportedly traded to the Mavericks, according to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski. As of this writing, however, the swap has yet to be made official. In Dallas, he would find himself on the same team as one of the tour’s star players in Luka Dončić.
Asked what their son will bring to his new team, Prosper’s parents described him as a versatile young man, a hard worker “who’s going to energize the team for sure,” said Ms. Blanchett.
“He always says he brings a spark to everything he does,” Mr. Prosper continued. He’s going to bring his spark on and off the pitch, into the game, but also into the culture of the team, in any way he can. We are so proud of him. »
“And [he will bring] victory!” “, added his spouse. “Absolutely,” chimed in his son.
A few years ago, Olivier-Maxence Prosper left Quebec to fulfill his basketball dream. The native of Rosemère spent a season in Illinois, at the Lake Forest Academy, before being recruited by the Latin American Academy of the NBA, in Mexico City. There, he played alongside Bennedict Mathurin, who last year became the earliest Quebecer drafted in NBA history.
This experience in Mexico was a first step towards greater heights for Prosper, who arrived in NCAA Division 1 the following year.
“It prepared me so much,” the principal told Sportsnet. Being part of the Academy, playing with guys like Bennedict Mathurin, Josh Giddey […]. I got better every day. It was an incredible experience for me. »
His first season, under the colors of Clemson University, was not easy for the young man of 6 ft 8 in. It was the following year, when he transferred to Marquette University for his second campaign, that he was able to establish himself in the circuit and, gradually, make his place among the best prospects.
Nelson Ossé, co-director of the Brookwood Elite summer program in which “O-Max” evolved for four years, knows the Prosper family well. Reached by telephone by La Presse a few hours before the draft, he described the selection of the Quebecer as a “great pride” for the program and for Quebec.
“Oli is a versatile player,” he said. He likes to win. He is ready to do anything. He’s a team player. He’s the guy who can be the glue on your team. If you ask him to put baskets, he will do it. If you ask him to play defense, [he will]. One of the big strengths I remember about him is that he was a very good teammate. »
Olivier-Maxence Prosper comes from a real family of basketball players. His parents both grew up at Concordia University. His sister, Cassandre, joined the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish in NCAA Division 1 last December. Last year, she was named Canada’s Player of the Year in her age category and the Ontario School League’s Most Valuable Player.
Hard to find a more passionate family.
Nelson Ossé, who has followed Prosper’s development over the years, attributes the young man’s success both to his “perseverance” and to the guidance of his parents.
While the work has paid off, it is far from over. What future does he predict for the Quebecer in the big league? Ossé doesn’t hesitate: “I don’t see any limits,” he blurts out.
“The fact that he got better and keeps getting better… In English, we say sky is the limit. That’s what I wish for him. »
Nelson Ossé has trained several Quebecers who have played or are still playing in the NCAA. When asked if we can expect to see other native players from the province drafted this high in the next few years, he immediately replies that “it is certain”. According to him, it is time that basketball begins to “be seen as a dominant sport in Montreal” and that “politicians, investors, begin to understand that there are perhaps other sports than hockey in Quebec. “. “Yes, Chris Boucher, you could have said it was lucky,” he continues. After that, there was Luguentz Dort. You could have said it was a chance, but there was Bennedict Mathurin. A year later, we have Olivier-Max. It’s no longer a chance. It means that there are good coaches, good development. Sooner or later, we may have to start thinking about developing and investing a little more in this sport. »
Unsurprisingly, it was Frenchman Victor Wembanyama who was selected first overall by the San Antonio Spurs. Although he has never played a single game, the 19-year-old is already seen by many players as the best prospect since LeBron James. In an interview with Sportsnet after his selection, the 7’5″ athlete burst into tears. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long!” “, he said.