Sekou Doumbouya started playing pickup basketball in 2013. Just three years later, he signed his first professional contract at the age of 15. That year, he dominated the U-18 European Championships, averaging 20 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while leading the tournament in field goal percentage.
Now, just six years after he first picked up a basketball, Doumbouya could be a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft and a future household name.
In a draft class highlighted by NCAA stars Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett, it’s easy to forget about the 18 year-old, 6 foot 9 inch forward who plays in France. But Doumbouya, who currently plays for Limoges CSP in the top tier of French basketball, has a rare blend of athleticism and raw talent at an extremely young age that some scouts think will make him the next big European NBA star.
Although he was born in Guinea, Doumbouya has lived in France for almost his entire life. After playing for amateur teams from 2013-2015, he signed a professional contract with Poitiers 86, a second-tier French team. He recently moved to Limoges CSP where he has averaged six points and three rebounds a game this season. It’s important to note that much of Doumbouya’s competition consists of former college basketball and NBA players who are often a decade older than him.
While his stats won’t blow you away, Doumbouya’s length and versatility make him a unique and intriguing prospect. He’s a smooth finisher that can glide through the lane with a soft touch, or attack the basket with punishing dunks. While his outside shot is inconsistent, Doumbouya’s form and arc on his shot are close to textbook. He’s a willing passer that has the natural ability and vision to drive in, collapse defenses and kick it out for an open jumpshot.
Doumbouya’s most important asset in the modern NBA is his ability to guard almost any position; he’s fast enough to stay with guards but also long enough to guard taller forwards. And, because he’s been playing professional basketball for so long, he has a much more developed frame and is used to playing against players who are bigger and stronger than him. Doumbouya could develop into an elite rebounder—especially if he keeps growing.
Despite his early success and talent, much of Doumbouya’s game still needs to be refined. He’s prone to mental mistakes — specifically with his passing — and relies on his superior athleticism a bit too much, which he won’t be able to do at the NBA level.
That being said, he has the frame and natural skill that, if given the time and attention he needs, might just make him the next Giannis Antetokounmpo or Kawhi Leonard.