Kaunas (heinnews) – Yves Pons is must-watch basketball. You don’t pay attention to the 17-year-old star French talent for just a second and you could miss something breath-taking. As loud as Pons’ game is on the court though, he’s just as reserved about sharing information about himself off the court.
Pons’ bright orange shoes at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Kaunas are just as flashy as his game – a high-flying act that leaves observers exhilarated and waiting for his next vicious dunk or nasty block.
Kaunas was the first ANGT for Pons while many in international basketball got their first true glimpse of the physical specimen at last summer’s FIBA U17 World Championship, when fans’ mouths needed to be cleaned of the drool after watching Pons flying through the air in Zaragoza, which he used as his own personal take-off platform.
Pons missed three months of action prior to the ANGT Kaunas with a knee injury, which also kept him out of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016 in December. So he was excited about finally playing in Lithuania.
“It feels great (to be playing again) but I am still a little bit injured,” admitted Pons after the team’s last group game against Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt.
Pons showed in Kaunas that he can guard anyone anywhere on the court. But he also does a pretty good job about guarding information about himself off the court.
Pons cannot really hold a conversation in English so a CFBB teammate was called in to help out with an interview. But Pons was still short with his answers.
Pons was born in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti located in the Caribbean Islands on the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic.
Pons says was adopted when he was 4 years old, when he said his French parents came to Haiti, picked him up for the adoption and returned to France.
Pons said he does not know his Haitian family and when asked if he has any connection to the island, he sticks to a short “no”.
Pons showed little interest in talking much more about his past, so it was left at that – left at wondering what this beast on the floor may have gone through as a youngster and how his life changed by coming to Europe.
While the 17-year-old has been in France since he has been 4 years old, Pons is not really looking to stay in Europe. Instead of remaining in France and developing his game there or moving to another club in Europe, Pons has set his sights on the NCAA in the United States.
When the question comes up, why does he want to go to the States to play college basketball, Pons says in English directly to the interviewer: “I can play and study and get a diploma.”
He listed his three college finalists as Tennessee, Texas Tech and Florida Gators.
And regarding when he would make his decision on which school he would attend, Pons offered again in English: “For the time I don’t know.”
Pons was a bit more willing to talk about the Kaunas tournament.
“It’s very motivating to play here because there are big names who have played here,” Pons said, again through his player/interpreter. “I am just trying to follow in their footsteps to have the same career.”
Pons was likely to be named to the All-Tournament Team in Kaunas but he was a non-factor in the title game against Zalgiris Kaunas, scoring 2 points with 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 13:11 minutes of action.
It leaves one to wonder if the all-arounder was struggling with the after-effects of that knee injury. Still, he was able to average 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.3 blocks in Kaunas.
“Haha, yeah, it’s easy for us. We just throw it up there and Yves will go get it. It’s pretty fun to watch him,” CFBB point guard Sofiane Briki about playing with Yves Pons
The stats are clearly an average as Pons had two very strong games – 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocks in the opener against Fenerbahce and 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks against Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt – and two quite subpar games – combining for 5 points on just 2-of-2 shooting from the field, 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 4 blocks in 28:37 minutes.
Pons still flashed his great speed and athleticism while also showing he had worked on his outside game a bit – knocking down 4-of-5 three-pointers. That came after hitting just 7-of-24 (29 percent) at last summer’s FIBA U17 World Championship.
Pons is also fun to play with – especially for the CFBB point guards as Sofiane Briki can attest to.
“Haha, yeah, it’s easy for us. We just throw it up there and Yves will go get it. It’s pretty fun to watch him,” said Briki.
Pons said his performance in Zaragoza helped him in many ways.
“It really showed me how I need to play defense much more aggressively and also that I needed to take the shot more,” he says through his teammate.
And his favorite memory from Zaragoza?
“The dunk in the quarter-finals,” he says, referring to a spectacular alley-oop dunk in overtime against Lithuania – one of three big dunks he had in that game.
After missing the FIBA U18 European Championship, Pons now has his sights set on the FIBA U19 World Championship 2017 in Cairo. The French will be heading to Egypt, though likely without U18 Euro MVP Frank Ntilikina, who is expected to get selected pretty high in June’s NBA Draft.
“I really hope that I can play at that tournament. It’s my goal to play there.”
That would be another chance to watch Pons’ must-watch game.