Photos Courtesy of FIBAEurope.com
DraftExpress: First, congratulations for the U-18 European Championship title, and also for the MVP prize. What does it mean to you?
Nicolas Batum: To be the European Champs means for me our domination in Europe as far as our generation is concerned. The MVP title just proves me that working hard certainly pays off at some point. Ive been working and improving with Le Mans, and that personal title is recognition of that work.
DraftExpress: You have improved a lot in the last year. What have you done during the year? Anything epecial?
Nicolas Batum: The aspect Ive been working on more lately is my aggressiveness on both sides of the court. Practicing last season with pros helped me a lot on that.
DraftExpress: It also seems that you have grown a little bit. Are you done growing?
Nicolas Batum: I should be almost done growing, maybe 1 or 2 cm more.
DraftExpress: You went pretty unnoticed in the first games of the tournament. What happened to you then?
Nicolas Batum: I had trouble getting into the rhythm of the championships, dont know why, but I finally got on track and played my game.
DraftExpress: We have the feeling that you somehow disappear in certain stretches during games. Do you agree? Why is that?
Nicolas Batum: I wasnt really absent but I would let the game play But yes, I agree I have sometimes been a little passive on the court at certain times.
DraftExpress: You have been pretty erratic from the three-point line and the free-throw line. Are you working particularly on it?
Nicolas Batum: I dont particularly work out on my shot, cause I believe it usually is reliable, but during the championships, its true I didnt shoot that well, and I cant explain it either.
DraftExpress: Beyond the team practices with Le Mans, do you have any individual coach practicing with you on certain aspects of your game?
Nicolas Batum: No, not this year, but next year I would like to have a shooting coach.
DraftExpress: What are the biggest things you need to work on for the future?
Nicolas Batum: Everything! My defense, aggressiveness, speed, reaction, shooting
DraftExpress: What kind of role do you expect to have with Le Mans next year?
Nicolas Batum: My role ? Dont really know yet Ill bring everything I can
DraftExpress: What do you think of the Euroleague?
Nicolas Batum: Right after the NBA, Euroleague is the second best basketball league in the world, so that means very high level teams. It surely will bring me more experience to improve my game.
DraftExpress: Do you plan to play for a couple of years in the top European level before looking forward to an NBA career?
Nicolas Batum: Of course, I think I should play in the Euroleague for two seasons with Le Mans before thinking about the NBA.
DraftExpress: Do you consider it indispensable, or perhaps just important, to reach a good level at Europe before trying the NBA?
Nicolas Batum: I believe that its important but not indispensable To reach a good Euroleague level brings you toughness and a level close to the NBA level, but some players are profiled for the Euroleague, and not for the NBA and vice versa.
DraftExpress: Do you consider the possibility of moving to a bigger European league (Spain, Italy) in order to match up with stronger opponents?
Nicolas Batum: Why not I would like it Spanish or Italian leagues are very good, why not, if it helps me to improve even faster
DraftExpress: Whats your contract situation with Le Mans?
Nicolas Batum: I just signed for 3 years with Le Mans.
DraftExpress: Did you ever consider the NCAA?
Nicolas Batum: I think about the NCAA sometimes but I really like the European youth training system.
DraftExpress: Do you watch any NBA games?
Nicolas Batum: I dont have that much time to watch the NBA, but when I can I do of course, especially the playoffs, where intensity is so great.
DraftExpress: What is the biggest difference for you between the NBA and Europe?
Nicolas Batum: Physical and intensity for the NBA, but science of the game in Europe.
DraftExpress: Which player do you pattern your game after and try to learn from?
Nicolas Batum: I like LeBron James and Boris Diaws ways of playing Theyre efficient at various positions. Id love to be as good in all those different aspects.
DraftExpress: What kind of motivation do guys like Parker and Diaw give you?
Nicolas Batum: The boost they give me is the proof that French trained and bred players can make it in the NBA, and quite well !
DraftExpress: When and how did you start playing basketball?
Nicolas Batum: I started Basketball at age 4 in a small club in Pont lEvêque.
DraftExpress: How come you have not been in the INSEP as usually happens with top French prospects?
Nicolas Batum: I did try to enter INSEP 4 years ago, but they didnt want me so I went to Le Mans.
DraftExpress: What do you think of the French basketball potential?
Nicolas Batum: French Basketball has great potential especially with leaders like Tony Parker and Boris Diaw! The next generation isnt far with promising talents such as Ajinca, Diot or Vaty We have very nice perspectives!
DraftExpress: How do you like France's chances in the upcoming World Championships?
Nicolas Batum: World Champs!!!!