Close this search box.

NBA Draft: Hawks take French teenager Risacher with first pick

Three French teenagers taken in the top six picks in 2024 NBA Draft in New York


The Atlanta Hawks used the first pick in the 2024 NBA draft to take 19-year-old French forward Zaccharie Risacher.

Risacher is the second straight Frenchman to be taken with the first overall pick after countryman Victor Wembanyama was the top pick by the San Antonio Spurs a year ago.

The 6’9″ forward has been playing for JL Bourg-en-Bresse in the French top-flight and told ESPN: “(This is) so exciting. There’s a lot of feelings and emotions right now. I don’t know what to say, I’m so blessed.”

The Washington Wizards took another 19-year-old Frenchman, Alexandre Sarr, with the second overall pick in the draft, held at the Barclays Centre in New York.

The centre had been top of some draft predictions after playing for the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League in the 2023/24 season.

It’s only the third time in NBA draft history that the top two picks had not played for a US college.

Sarr’s brother Olivier, 25, is a centre with Oklahoma City Thunder and the younger sibling told ESPN: “He’s shared a lot with me. Everything I’ve learned is through him and he gave me all his knowledge, and to this day it’s really special to have someone like him in my corner.”

The Houston Rockets selected Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard with the third pick while UConn’s Stephon Castle went fourth to the San Antonio Spurs where he will play with Wembanyama, who was crowned Rookie of the Year.

The top-five was completed by Ron Holland of G League Ignite, who was selected by the Detroit Pistons, while 18-year-old Tidjane Salaun made it three French players taken in the first six picks as he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets.

Bronny James, 19, son of LA Lakers star LeBron, is expected to be selected in the second round on Thursday. His father, 39, has spoken of his wish to play with his son before retiring.

The Lakers picked Dalton Knecht with the 17th overall pick and they have another to come late in the second round.


Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.