Nando De Colo Interview
By Eric Guilleminault
Nando De Colo
Fiba Europe/Stefano Selvestri
Today, NBA rosters are littered with French grown talent: Ronny Turiaf, Boris Diaw, Johan Petro, Mickael Pietrus, Yakhouba Diawara, Ian Mahinmi, Mickael Gelabale, Nicolas Batum, Alexis Ajinca and the aforementioned Parker.
For the 2009 draft there are two French players that are
on the minds of NBA scouts: teammates Rodrigue Beaubois and Nando De Colo. Beaubois
has been mentioned by NBADraft.net since the 2007 draft, now it's time to introduce
you to the player who has made huge strides over the past year: Nando
Nando, a late bloomer, who over the last 15 months has become one of the premium European talents for the 2009 draft (currently projected to be drafted early in the second round.)
Over the last 12 months he has been rewarded for his play by being named an All Star and MVP of the top French Pro league and selected as a member of the French National team. With the French National team, he became one of the key players in the qualification rounds of Euro 2009.
Nando led the team in scoring prior to the arrival of Tony Parker, Diawara, and Turiaf (Parker did not participate in exhibition games due to fatigue, while Diawara and Turiaf were free agents and still finalizing their new contracts). Once the NBA veterans joined the team, he was no longer the focal point but remained a starter and has had strong performances such as the 28 points on 9 for 9 shooting he scored against Belgium.
Nando At 6-5, 190 lbs, is a combo guard who is a good shooter
and a great passer for his height. In the last 6 months he has climbed the mock
draft and will look to improve on that with an excellent season. Antoine
Rigedeau, (French 2000 Silver medalist, Former Dallas Mavericks and
European Star) had this to say about the young talent:
"He (Nando)'s a good player (who) can do it all.
(He) can drive to the basket or take a pull-up jump shot in traffic. (He)
can shoot threes and can play the pick and roll and one on one. He's explosive
and has good feet quickness. He's really a good passer so he can score and
make the others better. And his first quality is his brain...he's smart and
really mature even if he played only one season as a professional."
Even with his busy summer and ambitions, Nando was kind enough to answer a few questions so that our readers could get a better idea about who Nando really is.
EG: You have had a very successful past year and the basketball community has finally discovered you as a great young talent, what do you attribute this to?
NDC: I don’t think there is any secret: just
plenty of hard training and perseverance, not forgetting
the pleasure of playing, of course. I’m trying to
give each game my maximum input to be able to reach my goals, and the effort
is beginning to pay off.
EG: Who was your favorite NBA and European player growing up?
NDC: When I was younger, my favorite NBA player
was Scottie Pippen. Someone closer to me when I arrived at the training center
in Cholet was Deron Hayes (former PSU player), who really impressed me. He was
part of the Club’s professional team and I felt really honored when I was picked
to play with him.
EG: What NBA or European player past or present do you feel your game resembles the most?
NDC: I don’t know. People often tell me that
they way I play is like Manu Ginobili’s, probably because of the way we can
alternate it (positions) during a game.
EG: What position do you see yourself playing in the NBA?
NDC: I think that I am seen more as a guard
player who can also be a play maker.
EG: You incorporate the behind the back pass and some flair to your game, is that something that comes naturally or is it something you do to please the fans?
NDC: The fact that I make some spectacular
moves is just something that comes to me instinctively according to the situation
and not at all to put on a show, though it’s always a nice feeling when you
please the fans.
EG: You are currently with the French National team, although you have not yet played in any qualifying games. How do you believe this experience has benefited your game?
NDC: All the experience I’ve had has helped
me, especially since I’ve been wearing the jersey of the French team which I
am very attached to. Being able to play with the best French players playing
in France, Europe or in the NBA (with Tony Parker, for example) will obviously
allow me to make progress and benefit from their great experience.
EG: Have any French players who are now currently in the NBA given you advice on how to best prepare yourself for an eventual entrance to the NBA? Or, if not, who has been a professional mentor for you?
NDC: So far, I have not had any advice from
French players in the NBA, though I did talk a bit about this with Tony Parker.
Speaking more generally, even if I have not had a “professional mentor”,
I’ve been lucky to have a close friend in Laurent Sciarra who has always given
me good tips on how to handle my career, as well as my family who give me a
lot of support.
EG: What are your expectations for this incoming season both at the club level with Cholet (Eurocup, LNB) and at the personal level?
NDC: At Cholet club level, our goal is to produce an even better season than the previous one in all the competitions facing us: the French championship, the French Cup, and especially the Eurocup (the former ULEB Cup). And the absolute ideal for us would be to achieve a back-to-back during the La Semaine des As Tournament because no other team has ever managed to do this yet.
NDC: As regards my personal goals, I intend to work even harder, continue on my trajectory and defend my title as MVP.
EG: As a player what do you believe is your biggest strength?
NDC: I don’t believe that I have a unique
talent. However, I think that my main quality is that I can alternate my play,
I mean that I’m able to shoot or drive, score or create scoring opportunities
for my teammates depending on the circumstances during a match. I also think
that I have a good range of possibilities in my play, even though I still have
a lot of work to do to improve these skills.
EG: What areas of your game would you like to improve on the most one year from now?
NDC: The area of my play that I really must
improve is to be more aggressive defensively. And I also need to develop my
physique even more, though not at the expense of my speed.
EG: What are you currently listening to on your MP3?
NDC: When it comes to music I am have very
wide tastes and I like pretty much all styles. But I still have a preference
for Rap, whether it’s French (and we do very good stuff here, for your information)
or American. It all depends on the mood, really.
EG: What is the last movie you’ve seen?
NDC: The last movie I saw was Hancock
with Will Smith. I’m also a big fan of the TV series
Friends which I know by heart: I have all the
seasons on DVD. At the moment I also watch the TV series Scrubs.
EG: What sports or hobbies do you enjoy outside of basketball?
NDC: Apart from basketball and when I have
the time for it, I like playing golf, and outside of the season I’m a big soccer
fan. Otherwise, I like watching other sports on TV like American football and
other European sports. In my free time I often send emails to keep in contact
with people far away from me, with my family for example. I enjoy playing on
my Playstation with friends and when it is possible going out with my friends,
girls and guys. As soon as the season is over, I can rest and try to spend as
much time as possible with my family and with the children of my sisters who
I don’t get to see very often.
EG: Is there anything else you would like to say to the NBAdraft.net readers?
NDC: Just that I hope to be able to meet up
with you next year.