Apr 06

Hoop Summit's Westermann Gets Batum's Approval

By caseyholdahl Posted in: NicolasBatum

Asking Nicolas Batum about the French players participating in the Nike Hoop Summit, which is takes place this Saturday at the Rose Garden (tickets still available here), has become someone of a tradition. Usually I'll bring it up, but this time, it was Batum who initiated the conversation by stating his belief that Leo Westermann, a 6-7 point guard who plays for French club team ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, could be Tony Parker's eventual replacement at point for Les Bleus.

"Everybody knows that, after Tony, there's a spot to take," said Westermann after a recent World Team practice at the Rose Garden. "So there is Andrew Albicy and me, so we have to take the spots because when Tony finishes his career in France National Team, we have to take this team. I have to improve for this."

Talk of taking Parker's place is probably a bit premature, as the 29 year-old is still one of the best players in the world, but as the sport grows in popularity in France, so too does the need to develop young players for the next level. And Westermann does have a few things going for him, primarily that ASVEL is partially owned by Parker (Mickaƫl Gelabale, France's starting small forward, also plays for Parker at ASVEL). And at 6-7, he gives the French uncommon size at the position.

"I'm tall point guard," said Westermann. "I play basketball for the last 15 years, so I watch a lot of game, I play against a lot of player, I can see everything. I've got some experience right now. I want to improve this for my game. Nico is right, I try to make my partner better. That is what I have to do."

There is competition for the honor of being Parker's replacement. Currently, Albicy, a 5-10 guard with great speed and defensive instincts, serves as Parker's backup. The French are coming off a second-place performance at Eurobasket 2011, so in some respects, it's hard to imagine Les Bleus head coach, Vincent Collet, making a switch before the 2012 Olympics this summer. But at 19 years of age, there's still plenty of time for Westermann to play alongside Batum and his fellow frenchmen in international play.

"I think it will be short, but we'll see if I can do some stage in the preparation (for the Olympics)," Westermann said. "I will be happy, but after Albicy, I don't know what the head coach think about me. I don't know what the other player think about me. I will take my chance and I want to be a part of this group, but I know it will be difficult."

Beating the USA team at the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit will be no easy task either.

(Photo via Sport 365)


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