BOULOGNE-SUR-MER (Pro B) - France has given the basketball world some exciting players the past decade with many featuring in the national team that reached the Quarter-Finals of the London Games.
The brightest star of them all is Tony Parker, the long-time point guard of the San Antonio Spurs and MVP of the 2007 NBA Finals.
A player causing a major buzz in France now is Mouhammadou Jaiteh, who is celebrating his 18th birthday on Tuesday.
Jaiteh, a 2.08m center in the French Pro B with Boulogne-sur-Mer, looks a sure bet cross the Atlantic for the NBA in the coming years and also play for France’s senior team.
He’s been putting in one excellent performance after another with Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Eleven games into the campaign and Jaiteh is averaging 15.6 points and 10.6 rebounds.
He exploded for season-highs in points (33) and rebounds (18) over the weekend in a 102-100 triumph over Rouen.
The French media is calling him the revelation of the season.
Boulogne-sur-Mer knew they were getting a star on the rise when they signed him to a two-year contract last June.
He had averaged 11.7 points and 9.8 rebounds for France at the 2011 U18 European Championship in Poland.
After agreeing terms with Boulogne-sur-Mer, Jaiteh joined France again and in August averaged 16.6 points and 11.6 boards at the U18 European Championship in Latvia and Lithuania.
Parker, 30, was an immediate hit after moving to the NBA over a decade ago and other players like Boris Diaw, Mickael Pietrus and Nicolas Batum have been successful, yet some have not.
Jaiteh will be told that the timing needs to be right when he leaves France for America as some players may have departed Europe too soon.
Johan Petro left Pau Orthez as a teenager for the NBA but his career overseas hasn’t taken off and he is also no longer in the French national team set-up.
Even so, Petro, whose last major tournament with France was the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan, is still only 26 years of age.
He has made two appearances with the Atlanta Hawks this season, his fifth team in the NBA.