Rayan Rupert, future draft participant: “I can bring a lot to an NBA franchise”

The Draft Combine is a special exercise since recruiters measure and evaluate all your every move during a day. How did you live this experience? It was quite a good time. They started by taking all the measurements and then I took part in all the tests I saw on TV when I was little. You are first asked to sprint the length of the field, then jump as high as possible, with and without momentum. And finally, we test your reactivity and your speed on the supports. Some may also participate in shooting drills and 5-on-5 matches.

You have rather achieved good performances, with in particular a jump measured at 82.5 cm. Are you happy with your results and how did you prepare for such an event?
My season with the New Zealand Breakers (the team plays in the Australian Championship) ended in mid-March. I returned to France ten days to see my family, then I joined Dallas to train with a renowned coach, Tim Martin. We prepared together the physical tests and especially the workouts that I will do in the coming days with NBA franchises.

Do you already know which ones? Were you able to chat with some of them?
Yes, I am taking advantage of this week in Chicago to have interviews with teams, but I cannot say which ones.

It seems that Sean Marks, the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, has already come to see you play in New Zealand, and that the franchise is interested in your profile. You confirm ?
Uh… I don’t think I have the right to answer that question either (laughter).

You are coming off a great season in the Australian league. This league has produced several young NBA stars like LaMelo Ball (Charlotte) and Josh Giddey (OKC). What did you learn there?
I went straight from INSEP in France, to suddenly play against pros in Australia. I learned the demands and rigor of the professional world, both on and off the pitch. It was really a great experience to grow as a person and as a basketball player.

“I can bring a lot of things to a franchise, like attacking the circle, playing in transition and I also have a good mid-range. »

You’ve built a reputation as an excellent defensive player, which appeals to many NBA scouts. How would you describe your game?
This year, I had a fairly limited role offensively in my team. I am not only a good defender, but also very underrated offensively. I can bring a lot of things to a franchise like attacking the circle, playing in transition and I also have a good mid-range. In short, I have a lot of offensive qualities that I can bring and also improve.

Who is the NBA player who most resembles you, or at least the one from whom you draw the most inspiration?
When I was little, it was Kevin Durant. But now my game is closer to that of Mikal Bridges. I watched it a lot with Phoenix, then in the last few months in Brooklyn. He is a great source of inspiration, I hope to have the same trajectory as him.

Young French players are struggling to establish themselves in the NBA. Tony Parker recently mentioned the fact that the new generation presents itself too early for the draft, without being yet seasoned enough for the best level. What makes you say you’re ready, at only 18?
I think I’m already mentally ready. Afterwards, like any young player, I know that I still have a lot to work on to hope to be a great player in this league. It will go through ups and downs, but I will make every effort. And then I also grew up in a family of basketball players. My father played it and my sister plays it (he is the son of the late Thierry Rupert and the brother of Iliana, interior of the Bleues). It is an advantage to have grown up in this environment.

Rayan Rupert and his sister Iliana are among the young French talents in basketball.  (HERVIO JEAN MARIE/The Team)

Rayan Rupert and his sister Iliana are among the young French talents in basketball. (HERVIO JEAN MARIE/The Team)

You are announced in the first round of the draft in June, or even among the first 20 choices by certain “mock drafts”. How do you live this hype that surrounds you?
I really try to stay detached from that. I am focused on my work, and I also know that everything can go very quickly in the draft, one way or the other. We’ll see where I land, I’m confident.

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