Basketball: NZ Breakers sign top European NBA prospect Ousmane Dieng for 2021-22 ANBL season

NZ Breakers have secured the services of one of European basketball's brightest prospects, with France's Ousmane Dieng joining the Kiwi club for the 2021-22 season.

Dieng, 18, is one of the top prospects among the NBA's 2022 draft class, and joins the likes of former Breaker RJ Hampton, and former Illawarra Hawk Lamelo Ball in playing in the ANBL as part of the Next Stars programme.

The youngster is a product of France's INSEP Academy, which also produced NBA stars such as Tony Parker and Boris Diaw.

Dieng has chosen to sign with the Breakers instead of playing a year in the US college system, or in the NBA's G-League.

"The Breakers have already had great success in developing NBA level players, and I can't wait to join their program in a move that will advance my career and prepare me for the NBA draft next year," Dieng says.

"The NBL is one of the world's best basketball leagues, and I believe this move is the best step forward for me as I strive to become an NBA player." 

Following their respective seasons in the ANBL, Ball was the third overall draft pick in 2020 when he went to Charlotte Hornets, while Hampton was drafted by Denver Nuggets before being traded to Orlando Magic.

ESPN ranks 6-foot-9 Dieng as a first round draft prospect for 2022, described as being "an excellent passer who shows versatility as a shot maker and defender" by analyst Jonathan Givony.

"It's exciting to see another one of the top prospects in the world choose the Breakers and the NBL," Breakers chief executive Matt Walsh says of Dieng.

"Ousmane is a unique talent, and we will develop him into one of the top picks for the 2022 NBA Draft."

Dieng averages 12.6 points per game, along with 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in the French third division, and represented his country at both under 16 and under 19 level.