Gonzaga target Nolan Traore has impressive showing at Nike Hoop Summit

Gonzaga target Nolan Traore has impressive showing at Nike Hoop Summit

PORTLAND, Oregon – Nolan Traore backed up why he may be France’s next elite point guard prospect at the 2024 Nike Hoop Summit.

Two weeks after the highly-touted 17-year-old made his debut for Saint Quentin in France’s top professional league LBN Elite, he shined in the annual showcase that pits the best under-18 basketball prospects in the United States against the best from around the world. 

The 6-foot-4 Traore finished with 18 points on 8 of 14 shooting and dished out a team-high four assists in Team World’s loss to Cooper Flagg, Ace Bailey and Team USA on Saturday at the Moda Center.

Colleges have been in pursuit of Traore, who could also opt to stay in Europe until he’s eligible for the NBA Draft in 2025. Traore visited Gonzaga in late December to watch their game vs. San Diego State.

The Zags, Xavier and Alabama have all offered. For Gonzaga, Traore said assistant coach Stephen Gentry is the primary recruiter, and mentioned the school’s history recruiting French players like Killian Tillie, who was with him on his official visit.

He told Gonzaga Nation on Thursday that he wasn’t close to a decision on what’s next. 

“I like them all,” he said.

Either way, his productive week in Portland could go a long way for a player floated as a potential NBA Draft pick. 

Practicing and scrimmaging in front of NBA scouts and front office executives, he earned the respect of teammates and admiration of coaches who described him as observant, poised and devastating at a moment’s notice.

“Nolan sees the game way differently from point guards we see (in the U.S.),” Baylor signee VJ Edgecombe, who prepped at Long Island Lutheran (New York), said, calling Traore the “best point guard I’ve ever played with.”

AJ Dybantsa, the consensus top-rated prospect in 2025 nationally, watched Traore assume a natural leadership position on Team World. As Team World was dealing with a suffocating Team USA press on Saturday at the Moda Center, Traore drew up a play on the sideline that broke the press.

“He’s smart, one of the better guys I’ve seen make ball screen reads,” Dybantsa said.

Team World coach Marshall Cho had 12 practices with his group ahead of the Hoop Summit, and called Traore “one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached.”

“First few days when we’re running through stuff, he was finishing my sentences,” Cho said. “He’s an extension of me on the floor. He’s poised, he’s tough, he’s athletic, skilled, all the stuff you would want in an elite guard.

“On defense, he’s opportunistic, he has a nose for the ball. On offense, he might lull you to sleep and all of a sudden he’s at the rim finishing.”

All of that was on display and more in Saturday’s televised showcase.

Peppered throughout his 18 points and game-high four assists were a step-back 3 in the game’s opening minutes, a look-away alley-oop to a high-flying Dybantsa and several tough finished at the rim through contact.

To Cho, who has coached elite international prospects for years, watching Traore throughout the week “makes me intrigued what’s happening (in France) in terms of development if they’re producing players like this at such a young age.”

Traore grew up watching Tony Parker highlights, and hopes to be the next great French point guard in a country that produces a consistent crop of high-level NBA players.

France’s most recent offering, Victor Wembanyama, could go down as the best rookie in NBA history and two of the top five projected picks in June’s draft — Zaccharie Risacher and Alex Sarr — are French. Traore is the 18th LBN player to play for Team World in the Hoop Summit in the event’s history.

Does he see himself as one of France’s next great hoop exports? 

“I hope so,” he said.

Andy Buhler

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