Frank Ntilinka, a Belgian-French basketball player of Rwandan descent, was plucked from obscurity to the limelight after being selected with the eighth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft by the world famous New York Knicks. Ntilinka is only 18 years old, but is already an impressive physical specimen, measuring in at 6 feet 5 inches in height and 7 feet in wingspan. Ntilinka is not known at all in the United States, but was hailed as an intriguing prospect in France, one newspaper even going as far as to compare him to San Antonio Spurs superstar Tony Parker. A.J. Slaughter, a teammate of Ntilinka on the French professional club SIG Strasbourg, said of the prospect: “He shows us flashes that he can be a really good player and he has the talent. He just needs to get in the NBA and get in a system and work with the coaches and on his body. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Ntilikina was born in Belgium in 1998, as his parents had moved there from Rwanda a couple of years before he was born in escaping the ongoing civil war and genocide going on in the country in the late 1990s. After staying for a time in Belgium, the family moved to Strasbourg, with the matriarch of the family putting a strong emphasis on education. “My mom and my brothers have been through some difficult things back in Africa. They always told me that nothing was given and when you come [this] far, you know what you have and that you realize that they have the chance to be alive. They have the chance to be alive and I have the chance to be alive so we have to work,” was how Ntilikina put the attitude that was fostered in his household.