THE National Basketball League (NBL) has announced itself as a successful pathway for young basketball talents to take their journey to the next level. With quality talent spread across the league making for a tough competition, many young players see this as an opportunity to prove their worth against a more experienced league than the NCAA or other similar leagues.
The NBL has even developed a Next Star program, where the brightest young talents from around the globe are recognized and given the proper training and facilities to assist their development. In the past, this program has delivered international stars such as Lamelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Joshua Giddey.
Thanks to the success of these players, the door has been opened for even more of the world’s most exciting youngsters to join the program, before potentially joining the NBA in the future.
One of the players taking advantage of the Next Stars program is Hugo Besson, who recently impressed NBL fans with an exciting performance when his New Zealand Breakers took down the Tasmania JackJumpers in a thrilling contest, with the youngster proving the strongest performer on the court.
Besson was born in Angers, France, where he began a promising junior career. International recognition came when he joined the Antibes Sharks and suited up for the club’s under 21’s side. While his averages did not set the world on fire (just over five points per game), his upside was enormous given he was participating at just 15 years of age.
Moving to Élan Chalon’s Under-21 side ahead of the 2017-18, and it was here where he took the next step in his basketball career. He bumped his averages up to 10.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He stayed with the club for a number of years after and forged a successful career.
From 2018 to 2020, Besson joined the club’s senior side as he looked to potentially put his name in contention for the NBA Draft in years to come. He steadily increased his averages and became known as a scoring weapon. Besson took his offensive game to the next level particularly in 2018, where he averaged over 18 points and pulled down nearly six rebounds per game.
In 2019, he was loaned to Saint-Quentin BB in the LNB Pro B, where he was able to announce himself as one of Europe’s premier young talents with a breakout season. He was nominated for the League MVP award, averaging 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and a steal per game.
He was considered a big chance to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft, with European players becoming a much hotter commodity after the rise of superstar Luka Doncic. However, he withdrew his name from consideration after sustaining an ankle injury that prevented him from attending work-outs.
In 2021, it was announced that Besson would be joining the New Zealand Breakers for the upcoming NBL season as a part of the Next Stars program. He participated in the ‘Blitz’ pre-season campaign, where he dropped a game-high 24 points in just his second match. He also provided a highlight that went viral, as he drove along the baseline and posterized 7ft 1in big man Zhou Qi with a thunderous slam that gained him praise around the world.
An explosive scorer, Besson will occupy a guard position with his crafty play, and is projected to be a first round pick in next year’s NBA Draft.