Nando De Colo Interview

Sat, 10/11/2008 - 11:23pm

By Eric Guilleminault

Nando De Colo
Fiba Europe/Stefano Selvestri
In 1997 Tariq Abdul-Wahad, became the first French basketball player drafted in the first round. In 2001 when Tony Parker was drafted, it started to become obvious to scouts that France was becoming a European hot bed for NBA talent.

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 since the 2007 draft, now it's time to introduce you to the player who has made huge strides over the past year: Nando De Colo.

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 readers?

NDC: Just that I hope to be able to meet up with you next year.

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