French swingman Ousmane Dieng, who is considered one of the top prospects for the 2022 draft, will play for the New Zealand Breakers next season as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
It’s the same route that Hornets guard LaMelo Ball took before being drafted in the lottery last season. Magic rookie R.J. Hampton, the 24th pick in last year’s draft, also used the Next Stars program as a springboard as well as Australian guard Josh Giddey, a potential 2021 lottery pick. Dieng is the first European prospect to make the jump to the Breakers.
The 6’9” Dieng is ranked No. 14 by ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony for the 2022 draft. Givony views the 18-year-old as a superior passer who has shown versatility as a shot-maker and defender, Wojnarowski adds.
Dieng, who played for Parisian Academy INSEP in France’s third division, was heavily recruited by American college programs as well the NBA’s G League Ignite team. French, Australian, Lithuanian and Spanish teams — including Barcelona — were also bidding for Dieng’s services, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets.