Regardless of how well Wizards newly-drafted rookie forward Rui Hachimura performs in the NBA moving forward, he’s already a superstar in his home country of Japan, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
Hachimura, the first ever Japanese-born lottery pick in the NBA, has a rabid following that was on display Friday when the 21-year-old Gonzaga product was introduced by the Wizards. Per Hughes, there were over 40 members of the Japanese media in attendance from over 20 outlets, all excited for the opportunity to be a part of Hachimura’s press conference.
“I’m used to it. This is kind of small,” Hachimura joked about the media attention at the Wizards’ press conference. “When I was in Japan, there were couple of press conferences like this and there were more people.”
Because of his unique situation, Hachimura has the chance to be the most marketable player on the Wizards as a rookie, John Wall and Bradley Beal included. He already has endorsement deals with Air Jordan and Nissin Food Products, and one Japanese reporter even went as far as opining that Hachimura could be as big as MLB star Ichiro Suzuki one day. The Wizards certainly hope so.
There’s more from the Southeast Division this afternoon:
- JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors is reporting that free agent sharpshooter John Petrucelli has committed to play summer league with the Magic. Petrucelli, 26, signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Magic in October, before being waived two days later.
- In some negative news coming out of Charlotte, Brendan Marks and Michael Gordon of The Charlotte Observer are reporting that Hornets second-round draft pick Jalen McDaniels was sued by two female high school classmates around six months ago. Criminal charges were not pursued, but the duo claim in a civil suit that McDaniels recorded them performing sexual acts without their consent.
- Columnist Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post opines that the Wizards will likely end up promoting from within and hire interim head of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard as Ernie Grunfeld‘s replacement.