“Formula 1 in Pro B”: Tom Digbeu, immediate flight?

Text: Theo Quintard / Photo: Basile Ertaud / Computer graphics: Theo Quintard.

Tom Digbeu’s “Like Mike” tattoo on his left leg (photo: DR).

“Like Mike”you know ? Released in the early 2000s, this American film is about Calvin Cambridge. The latter was an orphan at the age of 13 years old, he wants to be the star of the orange ball, but frankly, he is not ready to build a career at the age of forty-one. Coincidentally, he finds magic shoes and rollers in the NBA with the Los Angeles Knights. Tom Digbeu wanted to immortalize this movie on his left leg when he was in Los Angeles. “This story made me forget”, he soberly summarizes. However, almost everything is against Calvin Cambridge and Tom Digbeu. The son of Alain Digbeu was long anticipated as one of the best players of the 2001 generation, but his career has suffered some setbacks and he is struggling to get promoted.

Maybe the Digbeu rocket will take off from ASA Basketch. It didn’t take long to convince Tom Digbeu in Alsace. The 21-year-old French-Spanish winger arrived at the end of November after injury to Dovydas Redikas. 2008 made a roaring debut in Pro B and after six games (21.2 points on average) led the division’s scorer rating. “What I do is quite natural”he explains quietly. “Let’s just say it took a step back to get me better, but I didn’t back down from my goals. » Julien Espinosa, his coach at Gries-Souffel, boasts of his quick adaptability and enthusiastically compares him to Formula 1. (see video). “He’s trying to establish himself on the pitch because he hasn’t had many opportunities to establish his skills in the team so far, because he’s impressive.”38-year-old Riviera emphasizes technical years. “He does things step by step and at a fairly steady and quite spectacular pace. » From the beginning of his career, Tom Digbeu was more in diesel mode. Time to let the horses go…

“Tom has been in the starting blocks for three years »

After his last unsuccessful G-League experience with Motor City Cruise, long discussions with his father in Istanbul paid off. “I told him the world of care is over”Alain Digbeu, former France international with 92 selections and today a scout and consultant for the Skweek platform. “He really needs to be tougher on himself, be a real professional and start taking charge of his career. Morally, he is stronger today. »

Enough to go to the NBA ? The person answering the question is very intelligent. He will soon become physically mature (2 86 for m kg), the Franco-Spanish winger will probably have to forego the NBA Draft. However, there is no doubt that their goals will be revised downwards. He says “not to think [son] is coming” and “Focus on the present moment” but walking the floors of the Association and thus fulfilling his father’s wishes remains in the corner of his mind. “The NBA is the reason I started playing basketball”remembers “It’s something I aim for and always aim for. We’ll see what happens at the end of the season, but I don’t think signing with the ASA is as risky as the NBA. »

Tom Digbeu, who trained in Spain and has played in Lithuania, Australia and the G-League, is having a blast in Pro B (photo: Basile Ertaud).

The rating on the other side of the Pyrenees remained unchanged anyway. The FC Barcelona scion has attracted interest from some LEB Oro teams, including Lleida and Andorra. Murcia, a Liga Endesa outfit, were also reported, but it was Gries-Souffel that caught the attention of the Digbeu family. “Pro B wasn’t planned in the script, but sometimes you have to be able to put things into perspective and step back”notes” Weather in Digbeu “. “If he had a real opportunity in the last three years, it would be different today because Tom has been in the starting blocks for three years. »

“We often compare him to Thierry Henry… »

Tom Digbeu and Gries-Souffel raised the bar (photo: Basile Ertaud).

Even if he came to basketball only at the age of 12 After years of football, tennis and swimming, Tom Digbeu was always ready for the high level. “I didn’t pressure him about basketball”notes his mother, Nathalie Champion, a receptionist at Hogan Lovells, an international law firm in Alicante. “When he was playing football, we often compared him to Thierry Henry because he was tall, lean and long. » Before adding a touch of nostalgia and admiration, : “He scored good goals. »

Aside from a brief stint at Pôle Espoirs de Lyon under Jean-Pierre Morateur and Marc Berjoan, Tom Digbeu immersed himself in Spanish culture. During the Alicante vs Teruel tournament, he caught the attention of FC Barcelona recruits. Under the watchful eye of Sergio Scariolo, he is rocking his world and will join La Masia in a few months. “When Tom was at Barca, he was one of the best players in Spain and probably in Europe.”, one of the coaches in Catalonia, Mark Calderon, who is almost considered his “second father”, withdraws. And for good reason, Tom Digbeu is blowing up the screen in his first Catalan season. A scorer of 27 points against Real Madrid, he was particularly outstanding with several flashy moves that showcased his athleticism, including a memorable poster dunk on Usman Garuba.

“Tom is a special player with a great personality”

“Tom is a special player with a great personality” Today’s coach of Badalone’s U16 team continues Marc Calderon. “He’s brave, he’s fearless, he’s got the same mentality you find in streetball. Either way, it has more potential than the last few years have offered, but now is the time (to move on). »

Invited to the Jordan Brand Classic, Eurocamp, Basketball Without Borders Europe or even Derrick Rose’s camp, Tom Digbeu ticks all the boxes of a player programmed very quickly for a very high level. His 2018-2019 season also shows potential in the LEB Oro with Barça’s B team. 12 plays Just 18 minutes in the Spanish second division years. Faced with the abundance of talent filling the ranks of the professional team, he decided to leave Catalonia to start his career in Lithuania. “Turnhis father says This is the exit of Barcelona’s training center, where perhaps LEB Oro should stay and play more. A mid- or late-table Liga Endesa could serve him a full season to bounce back. »

Tom Digbeu is reborn at ASA (photo: Tom Roeckel / ASA Basket, computer graphics: Theo Quintard).

Even today, he is looking for a full season. In Lithuania, he faced a cascade of unexpected events. On loan from Zalgiris Kaunas Prienai – where a certain Lamelo Ball was in the incubator, followed by a lost season due to a torn cartilage. Osteochondritis occurring in Pole Espoirs. “He had a big blues kick”he knows his mother, Natalie Champion, who accompanies him to the hospital twice a day for a long time.

This pattern of injuries and irresponsibility, among many others, is somewhat representative of Tom Digbeu’s slow start to his career. The 21-year-old French Spaniard, whose failures are as difficult as his coaches, mainly explains them as a lack of confidence given by his coaches. : “I’ve always had inconsistent playing time. I didn’t have the minutes I needed to show what I could do. »

“I don’t regret anything”

Will Tom Digbeu make it to the NBA one day? (photo: Basile Ertaud)

A pioneer of the NBL’s Next Star program, he arrives in Brisbane with renewed confidence and intent on using it as a springboard for the NBA draft. “With my injury and my age, I realized that I have to give everything”he admitted BeBasket “in November 2020 is at the heart of a challenging but rich learning season with Prienai. In Australia, Tom Digbeu finds it difficult to express himself (12 minute 4.7 rating) and then decided to join the G-League, although his father was not necessarily in favor of it. In Motor City Cruise, a franchise affiliated with the Detroit Pistons, he faces a series of negative situations and is overshadowed. Ryan Turell said he will be the first Orthodox Jew to play in the NBA.

“I don’t regret anything”In Gries-Souffel, claims Tom Digbeu, who never considered returning to France until this opportunity. “Playing abroad since childhood has given me a lot on a human level. I grew up perhaps faster than others, especially with the challenges I experienced. It has been useful for me and will be for the future. » She is worried about her parents’ divorce at the age of 6 Tom Digbeu, who was years old and estranged from his father, who has since rebuilt his life in Istanbul, built a shell. “True, he can have a certain chill.”confirms his mother. “But when you get to know him and trust him, he becomes a completely different person. »

Where Gries-Suffel is “I discovered the joy of playing” and “He wants to be a player again [qu’il] was”, seems to have managed to subdue him. He could perhaps see his career rise in Alsace, away from the limelight. “We are not used to a player who draws so much attention”– said Tom Rockel, the club’s communications manager. He points a finger inside the Serb before laughing : “Strahinja Gavrilovic is a strong contender for the LNB shortest shorts trophy. » And Tom Digbeu for Pro B’s MVP title is still in the bygone era if he continues at this hellish pace. With the experienced Jamar Diggs, he was able to improve the ASA Basket. Yesterday’s Red Lantern is a serious contender for the playoffs today. Tom Digbeu doesn’t have magic shoes, but turning over a Pro B team is a feat in itself.

Tom Digbeu opted for the Spanish option and turned down the Blues

This time, it seems, he made his choice! Pre-selected for the 2018 U17 World Cup, Tom Digbeu decided to opt for Spain, having never experienced international competition with the Bleuets. La Roja had already eyed him in the past, but Tom Digbeu was oblivious. “I feel more Spanish than French because I was born there and grew up there, it’s a natural choice”explains the interesting part. “The foreign country is not Spain, but France. »

After careful consideration with those close to him, he felt that given the density of the French reservoir on the outer lines, he had a slightly better chance of playing with the Spanish option. “It’s his decision,” recalls Alain Digbeu. “I’m behind him 100% because he’s my son. »


January 10, 2023 at 9:30 AM

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