After performing a very remarkable season in France with Limoges’ Espoirs team, Joël Ekamba took the decision to enter the NBA draft at the age of 19. Born and raised in Belgium, the youngster had the opportunity to start showing his potential in the youth European competitions with his National Team and also playing and gaining a bit of experience at a PRO level with Belfius Mons-Hainaut, in the top-level Belgian championship. Last November he signed a one-year deal with Limoges CSP, who allowed him to play with U-21 team and to train with the first team as well. Let’s spend some time with him!
First of all, thank you for this interview. I hope you and your family stay stafe in this hard moment. Are you managing to practice with constancy during this lockdown? Where are you now?
Thank you for having me, my family and I are safe and healthy. I have been working out at home in my garage, I have an application where I am following daily instructions to keep my body in shape and improve my body strenght, watching my past full games as well.
You were born and raised in Brussels, Belgium, but your parents come from Democratic Republic of Congo: did you ever go there to take a closer look to your roots?
No, I don’t unfortunately. My summers has been busy with basketball since I am 13 years, but that is something I would love to do in the future.
When did you fall in love with basketball and when did you figure out it would have been something to do at a PRO-level?
When I was 6 in my local team. Back then, my older brother also used to play, so I picked it up from him.
Coming to talk about your game, I think you improved your shooting efficiency: is there one person that helped you consistently to get better about this fundamental? Who would you mention?
I think I improved not only my shooting ability, but also my decision making on the court, creating for others and being more a leader. I want to say thank you to my coach Frank, Kuhn.
Watching Espoirs game, I noticed you feel more confident with the ball – also as a PNR operator – compared to previous years. How much do you like creating for your teammates and what is in your opinion the most important skill to be a good passer?
I believe in the past I always wanted to show my scoring abilities, but this year I enjoyed generating advantages for my teammates and making everyone better . I think owning a good IQ and court vision are two of the most important skills to become a better passer.
You can drive, you can pass, you can shoot, you have a very good frame to be a solid defender: what do you think you have to improve to be a good level NBA player?
I think I have to do what I am doing with the Espoirs. I was already working out with the PRO team in Limoges and I felt i could make a good effort on the floor during practices and games.
Because of your style of play on the court, you look like an all-around player: choose one player you have as a reference point (also European, if you want).
I would say Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Nowadays social networks dominate our life. How is your relation with them and how much difficult is handling the popularity you gained?
I like to be on the social medias. I chose to see what is best for me and what could help me grow in every aspect. It helps me stay in touch with my friends and family, too.
Have you ever had the possibility to go to the USA? If yes, which are the more evident differences between American lifestyle and European one?
Yes, I have been going to the USA since I am 16. I played AAU with “Team Lillard” and I was working out with Prolific Prep players like Nimari Burnett, but everything is mediatised in US. I truly believe it could be a good environment if you are looking to study and play basketball as well on a high level. I also worked out last summer with a trainer in North Carolina.
Finally, where do you see yourself in five years? Could you consider the option to have a bright future also in Euroleague for example or does NBA represent the only target for you?
I want to be an NBA player and, at the moment, my focus is NBA. But, if I had to go through Euroleague to get there, why not…
Thanks for the time, Joël. I wish you all the best!