By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Shortly after emerging as the second player from Belgium to be selected in the NBA draft, Toumani Camara was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Portland Trail Blazers. Far from a setback, especially considering his showings in the 2023 NBA Preseason.
“I just want to play basketball and have fun. Getting on the court and giving my all. That is what I do every time,” he mentioned after putting up 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal over 25 minutes in a losing effort opposite the Utah Jazz on Saturday.
Camara, 23, was selected by the Suns with the 52nd pick of the 2023 draft. Being involved in the trade centered on Damian Lillard joining forces with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the Milwaukee Bucks, he ended up in Portland on the way to becoming the second Belgian to play in the NBA.
Second to get drafted and to play, but after different players in each occasion. D. J. Mbenga went from undrafted to playing seven seasons in the NBA and winning two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. Axel Hervelle was drafted 52nd overall in 2005 but did not jump into the league.
From Belgium to the NBA
Camara was raised in Belgium and moved to the United States to develop through high school and college. His NCAA career was split between Gonzaga and Dayton. Earlier in his basketball experience as a teenager, he represented Belgium in the 2016 FIBA U16 European Championship averaging 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game over eight appearances in the Division B tournament in Bulgaria.
“At the of the day, it is a game. It is a game of basketball. I have been doing this for a lot of years,” he cited the run at the junior level commenting on head coach Chauncey Billups calling him fearless.
Tallying 8.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 0.7 steals per contest over three appearances in the preseason, he is heading to yet another exhibition game before debuting in the Regular Season. The Blazers will face the Suns at Footprint Center on Monday, before switching to official action.
An undersized and physical power forward, he is determined to continue having fun on the exciting journey to the NBA.
Photo Credit: YouTube