23 Rui Hachimura (JPN)
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Nine things you have to know about Rui Hachimura

TOKYO (Japan) - The morning of June 21, 2019 was a big moment for Japan basketball when star Rui Hachimura was selected with the 9th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to play for the Washington Wizards. The 2.03m (6'8") forward has come a long way from Toyama to Washington. Here are nine facts you should know about the Japanese basketball superstar!

1. First in Line

When the Wizards officially made Hachimura their 9th pick of the NBA Draft, the 21-year-old forward became the first Japanese-born player taken in the first round of league history. Though there were other fellow country men before him in the league (Yuta Tabuse, Yuta Watanabe), Hachimura was the first ever to be selected in the first round on draft night.

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With the ninth pick in the 2019 #NBADraft, the @washwizards select @rui_8mura!

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Moreover, he's also the highest Asian draft pick ever since Yi Jianlian who was the 6th pick back in 2007.

2. Remember the Name

Hachimura's given name is pronounced Roo-E, which can also be derived to a more familiar form as "Louis" as sported in his personal twitter account.

Rui is already a widely recognizable name and now viewed as highly marketable. Prior to the draft, Hachimura signed an endorsement deal with NISSIN, the maker of Cup Noodles.


3. Multi-cultured upbringing

Before coming to the United States to play at Gonzaga, Hachimura was born and raised to a Japanese mother and a Beninese father. Having grown with multiple cultural influences, it's no surprise how unique of a basketball player and a person Hachimura is – and he is waves those flags proudly.

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Repping Japan 🇯🇵 and Benin 🇧🇯

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4. Love at… second sight?


Basketball wasn't the first sport of choice for Hachimura, funnily enough considering where he is at now. Like most Japanese youths, he was more into the sport of baseball which he played for 6 years. Hachimura had become quite good at baseball especially as a pitcher with a mean fastball, but maybe a bit too good.

"Nobody could catch the ball," Hachimura said as quoted by The Spokesman-Review. "That's why I switched."

At the persistent persuasion of a classmate, Hachimura eventually took on playing basketball. It wasn’t long before his coach, Mr. Sakamoto, realized that he could be come a great player.

"I don't know why, but he trusted me and said I'd get better every day," Hachimura added as quoted by The Spokesman-Review. "He gave me tapes of NBA and NCAA games of different players. My coach started to say I was going to play in the NBA. I got more serious about it."

5. High School Domination

After learning the ropes of the game, Hachimura took over the high school basketball scene in Japan. He starred for Meisei High School on the way to three straight consecutive All-Japan Tournament titles.


Along the way, he was also starting to turn heads in the international scene as well.

6. Getting on the Radar

The 2014 FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup was the first ever for Hachimura and also for Japan. They finished only at 14th that year, but Hachimura led all scorers in Dubai with 22.4 points per game highlighted by 25 points against the United States leaded with future NBA players Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Josh Jackson.

It was there that Gonzaga's scouts had taken notice and begun the process of Hachimura's recruitment.

He was spectacular once again at the 2017 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, leading Japan to a 10th place finish – their highest ever final standing. Hachimura was second in scoring with 20.6 points per game and third in rebounding with 11.0 boards per contest.

7. Idol Melo

Hachimura plays the small forward position, so it's only natural that he looks up to one of the best to play in the same role.

 Not only does he idolize the famed USA national team star, Hachimura also favors his style of play to that of smooth operating scorer.



8. Step into the Spotlight, Superstar

Hachimura was a rarely used freshman (4.6 minutes per game), but developed into a supersub in the following season. Though he started only 2 of 37 games in his sophomore year, Hachimura played in 20.7 minutes per game and averaged 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. It was good enough to earn him a spot on the All-West Coast Conference (WCC) First Team.

Hachimura made the All-WCC First Team for a second time as a junior, erupting for 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in 30.2 minutes per game. This time, he started all 37 games on his way to be named a consensus first-team All-American, win the WCC Player of the Year award, as well as the Julius Erving Award.


9. Little Bro

Rui has a little brother, Aren (or Allen), who also plays basketball. The two were teammates when Rui was still at Meisei High. The 19-year-old Aren now plays for Tokhai University and represented Japan at the 2015 FIBA Asia U16 Championship.