Sekou Doumbouya, the start of his second career: “Roanne is the perfect context”

Four years is a long time. Ask Paul Pogba, who has just been suspended by the Italian Anti-Doping Court until 2028… What's more, it's been almost five years since Sekou Doumbouya (2.06m, 23 years old) last set foot on the Betclic ÉLITE floor, since May 26 .2019 and the sinking of Limoges against AS Monaco in the quarter-finals of the playoffs (62-90). 8 points on 3/9 and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes, for a 4 grade from Le Populaire du Centre, who graded him that night. “He wasn't skilled and had a few bad choices, but the 18-year-old stuck to it defensively. At least that's it…”

Sekou Doumbouya has not played in France since the 2018/19 season (photo: Guillaume Poumarède)

Eight days earlier, he collected 34 points on 13/18 and 9 rebounds on 37 evaluations in just 29 minutes against Metropolitans 92. The last flash of a precocious phenomenon rarely seen in France, capable of scoring 15 points in the National from 1 to 14 years old with INSEP -om, a professional at the age of 15 in Poitiers Basket 86 (Pro B). Born in Conakry, promised a place in the sun, he finally fell into the night, lost in the endless American jungle.

“Take it with you, you can do something with it”

Everything has been said, re-said, written a thousand times about his time in the NBA: the unfinished flashes of his rookie season (his 24 points against Boston, his enormous dunk on Tristan Thompson), the bad behavior, the 18-year-old kid thrown into the big world with millions on the bank account and with a suspicious escort, the Pistons who got tired and left him, his agency Comsport too, the vicious cycle of injuries, etc.

But that's all in the past. Eleven months after his last official game, which consisted of 5 anonymous minutes – like his season – in the G-League, Sekou Doumbouya will become a basketball player again this Saturday afternoon in Strasbourg, under the colors of Choir of Roanne. On Friday, far from the comfort of the NBA's private jets, he rediscovered the joy of endless bus trips, stopping at a highway rest stop for lunch. A kind of return to the past that he conducted… Bouna Ndiaye, his first agent who recently approached him again after the break in the spring of 2020. “He told me: “Sekou is in good shape, he is training in Spain, take it with you, I'm sure you can do something with it,” Jean-Denys Choulet told us last week.

Transfigured income in Roanne

In contrast to the dubious 122 kilograms seen during the preparation for Monegasque last August, the Loire technician saw the arrival of a sharp player, freed of more than 20 kilograms, physically fit thanks to two months of preparation in Dallas. From Loirétain's second day in Roanne, the two men had lunch together: the JDC told him that he would not have the privilege, but that a possible collaboration would be a win-win situation between two parties in need of help, the Corps for his maintenance , a player who would restart his career. “I'm ready to help you every day, as long as you want, but it has to go both ways,” said Bisontin.

After ten days of training in Vacheresse, Sekou Doumbouya expects to be on the bars of Rhénus this Saturday (photo: Nolhan Joanin).

For now, Jean-Denys Choulet's words have resonated. Internally, Sekou Doumbouya's behavior is unanimous after ten days. “I heard about his failures so I waited to see how I could form my own opinion: however, he is impeccable, he has the right attitude, he is very smiling, he brings a lot of energy and joy to life”, welcomes Antoine Diot. “I expected to lead the case and I am very pleasantly surprised: he arrives on time, respects the dress code, is polite”, adds Frédéric Title, team leader. Enough to corroborate the words of the person in question, who spoke in Le Progrès last weekend before his agency declared a media embargo. “I became aware of many things. My second career begins. Here it is again, I'm very happy that Roanne is giving me a chance to show myself, I get on really well with everyone here. »

Or the age of maturity, after the turbulence at the beginning of the career? “He is only 23 years old, he is still young”, defends his friend Boris Dallo, the second returnee from this Strasbourg – Roanne. “What is difficult is that the French public is very demanding. You have to give it time, we all have the right to make mistakes, we all do. That's how we become much more mature, calmer, more peaceful. Maybe he needed to go through this to realize some things. I'm a fan of this kind of comeback because it shows strength of character. »

A friendly match that will pay the price

And sports? Sekou Doumbouya has ten weeks to prove his worth, ten weeks to achieve his redemption, ten weeks to save the Chorus, ten weeks to finally reach his full potential. “He is one of the most talented French basketball players we have seen,” stressed Boris Dallo, who could be called upon to defend him this afternoon. “I really want him to perform, except for this Saturday! I hope he proves people wrong about him and proves to himself that he is capable of getting back to that level. I think Roanne is the perfect context for you to express yourself about your basketball. He is a very intelligent person on the field, who has great instincts, so he will quickly find his place. »

Against Saint-Chamond, Sekou Doumbouya was aggressive but clumsy (photo: Nolhan Joanin)

In this regard, last weekend's friendly match against Saint-Chamond (82-56) could prove particularly useful. Perhaps a little too eager to prove his worth, a little too happy to be back on the floor, the 96-game NBA winger had a very rough first half, shooting 1/8. “I talked to him a little bit,” reveals Antoine Diot. “He did so much that he put himself in difficult situations. But I told him that it is more than normal to be so hungry, to want so much, but that he is so talented that the game will come naturally to him, that in the meantime he will express himself even more, especially with a scary passer like DJ Cooper at the helm. » Useful side because the former Laker knew how to direct himself, finishing with 16 points on 6/18 and 8 rebounds. “He is vindictive, he has his hands full, he can do everything on the field,” continues the leader of Bressan.

This is not a crossroads: Sekou Doumbouya has already been there, he has already taken the wrong path, almost lost on the way, lost in a dead end. But at the very end of the tunnel, a small light flashed, like a returning flame, showing the direction to follow. The last chance one? For the former future Blues winger, it all starts (again) this Saturday at the Rhénus…

in Strasbourg,

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