By Eurohoops Team / email@example.com
When Paris Basketball center Ismael Kamagate was a young kid making his first steps into the world of sports, he went with arguably the most popular or obvious choice: football.
He played as a goalkeeper before realizing that he wants something different, which led him to basketball. Football and goalkeeping weren’t meant to be Kamagate’s destiny, but he still carries the same role of guarding the rear of his team in his capacity as a rim protector for Paris.
Blocking shots is Kamagate’s forte and he has the numbers to show it. The 21-year-old big man is leading the 2022-23 7DAYS EuroCup in blocks with 2.5 per game while spending 26:34 minutes on the floor. No other player has more than 1.8.
That’s quite the followup to his 2021-22 French League run, which ended with him being named the competition’s best defender.
There are more than swats in Kamagate’s game, though. He’s providing his team with 10.0 points while barely missing a shot (19 for 23 from the field) and grabbing a league sixth-best 8.5 rebounds.
Kamagate’s shot-blocking abilities have helped Paris begin the 7DAYS EuroCup season with a 2-2 record, with both victories having come on the road. Not a bad start considering that the very young (established in 2018) but also very ambitious French club is a newcomer not only to the EuroCup but to continental competitions in general.
Paris also doesn’t have the experience of other clubs on its roster, either. Outside of well-traveled wing Axel Toupane, leading scorer (22.5 points) Kyle Allman is 25 years of age while top passer Tyrone Wallace (5.0 assists) is a rookie in European basketball. Key contributor Juhann Begarin (11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists) is 20, Kamagate will become 22 in January, while head coach Will Weaver is working in Europe for the first time in his career.
Away wins mark team’s debut
It’s a process, a learning curve, but the EuroCup journey has begun in a very promising manner for Paris.
The team’s EuroCup debut was nothing less than a stunner: A 90-75 win over Turk Telekom in Ankara. Kamagate contributed 6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks for a plus-minus of 22. He was present on the court while Paris allowed just 11 points over 8 minutes through the end of the third and the fourth quarters, responding with 21 to get the victory. That result is even more impressive now, considering that no other team has beaten Turk Telekom since.
Paris’s home debut wasn’t pretty as Hapoel Tel Aviv took an 86-100 decision despite Kamagate’s 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks for a team-high 27 PIR. But the ensuing trip to Trento was crowned with success as his 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks helped Paris take an 86-91 victory over Dolomiti Energia. The young French player had a team-high-tying 23 PIR this time.
Once again in Round 4, Paris could not celebrate its first home win as contender Gran Canaria left with an 89-81 victory. Kamagate didn’t play much (17:58) after committing his fourth foul with 3:34 left in the first half but was positive in his minutes, registering a team-best 14 in plus-minus while overall finishing with 6 points and 8 rebounds. It was his only game without a block, so perhaps he has saved some for Wednesday’s Round 5 road clash vs. Buducnost in Podgorica, where Paris will look to remain unscathed away from France.
More than a shot blocker
You would’ve thought that a young French center with such a knack for blocking shots would look up to primarily someone like NBA star and two-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert as a model. But Kamagate has a different projection regarding the type of player he wants to become and develop into.
“Long term, I want to be like Bam Adebayo,” Kamagate has told reporters. “Because he can read and make the right pass. He can guard [positions] one to five.”
“The pass is one of the best things in basketball. You can make your teammates better,” Kamagate added.
To go with his physical strengths, Kamagate has the right mindset for what the game should be about, so it will be interesting to see if he combines his prowess for blocking shots with some passing sharpness in the future.
Photo: EuroCup Basketball