Wembanyama on LBJ praise: Goals still to reach

by Gordon Dixon - Victor Wembanyama said that while it was an "honor" to hear praise from LeBron James, he wants to remain focused as he's not "done anything yet."

Victor Wembanyama: LeBron James' praise an 'honor' but still have goals to reach 7:51 PM ET Myron MedcalfESPN Staff Writer Close Covers college basketball Joined ESPN.com in 2011 Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato HENDERSON, Nevada - On Thursday, Victor Wembanyama's teammates pulled him aside and showed him a video of LeBron James calling the projected No. 1 pick in next summer's NBA draft "a generational talent" and "an alien." Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 talent from France who has wowed spectators and NBA execs alike in his first trip to America this week, said he still has more work to do before he deserves that high praise. "It's obviously an honor to see such great people talk like this about me, but it really doesn't change anything," he said after leading his Metropolitans 92 squad to a 112-106 win over G League Ignite at Dollar Loan Center. "I was like, 'Oh that's cool.' But no more. I have to try to stay focused. The thing is ... I didn't do anything yet." Editor's Picks Ignite's Henderson has bone bruise, feels 'good' 1h Myron Medcalf 1 Related With Scoot Henderson, the projected No. 2 pick in next summer's draft and leader of G League Ignite, sidelined with a knee injury early in the game, Wembanyama was the main event on Thursday. He finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and four assists in a 112-106 win, as Minnesota Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert -- a French basketball star and Wembanyama's good friend -- watched courtside. In Thursday's game, Wembanyama was more aggressive as he attacked the basket while still managing to hit shots in rhythm with a skill set some NBA reps in attendance said they'd never witnessed from a player that size. He finished with 37 points and went 7-for-11 from the 3-point line on Tuesday in a 122-115 loss to G League Ignite in the same building. A'ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Chris Paul , Devin Booker and DeMarcus Cousins all sat in the front row for that game. James said the hype about Wembanyama is real. "Everybody has been labeling this unicorn thing," James said on Wednesday night after scoring 23 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' 119-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns in a preseason game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. "Everybody has been a unicorn for the last two years, but he's more like an alien. I've never seen -- no one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor. "... His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers out of the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots ... He's for sure a generational talent." But Wembanyama said he has to continue to grow and not get caught up in the hype about his potential. "I didn't play in an NBA game yet," Wembanyama said. "I wasn't drafted, so I've got to stay focused to reach my goals. Because it's going to be tough to get better every day and stay consistent." Shareef O'Neal, who scored eight points in his debut for G League Ignite on Thursday, said he called his father, Shaquille O'Neal, to ask him for tips to stop Wembanyama. "He said the tallest person he ever played against was either Manute Bol or Yao Ming ," Shareef O'Neal said. "I don't think there is a player like him. There are not too many players that can move like him at that size. [My father] was just saying, 'You have to be aggressive. He's a little taller, just try to get into him and try to get into his face.' And I tried my best to do that. That's the only thing he said. He said he's never played against anybody who can shoot like that and have skills like that at that size, so he couldn't really help me on that one." Wembanyama will return to France amid a rapid buzz that has changed his profile in the United States over the last 48 hours. Overall, the trip to America exceeded Wembanyama's expectations, he said. And it made him a star. "My impression of the American game? That was really great," he said. "I hardly see how it could have been better. Maybe if we'd won [on Tuesday]. But that was a great experience, really once-in-a-lifetime. I want to thank all of the organizations that allowed us to come here."