Director of International Scouting for Babcock Hoops, Jason Filippi, recently sat down with NBA prospect, Paul Eboua, currently playing for Pesaro in Italy. They discussed his journey from Cameroon, his plans for the NBA draft and more.
Jason Filippi: Tell us a bit about your family background. Also, when and where did you start to play basketball?
Paul Eboua: I was born and raised in Cameroon and I first moved to Italy in 2015 specifically to pursue a basketball career at the Stella Azzurra Rome Basketball Academy. Up until that point, I had really never played organized basketball before – just for fun with my friends at school a bit. I knew literally nothing about Italy also so this was a huge leap of faith for me but I am happy I made that decision. My family – both my parents and I have two sisters and a brother also – they all still live in Cameroon and so far nobody has been able to come to visit me in Italy yet. I would have liked to go back last summer but I really needed to stay in Rome and work on my game. We keep in touch though and chat almost daily with Skype and Whatsapp.
Describe your game – what type of player are you?
I am a dynamic and athletic player who likes to play in the open court and can crash the offensive glass hard. I try to bring energy on both sides of the court.
What is your best skill as a player? And what is your biggest weakness?
I think my strengths are rebounding and the fact that I can defend multiple positions. I know there are a lot of areas in which I need to improve – my feel for the game, my court-sense and my defense away from the ball.
What has been the biggest adjustment for you playing in Serie A1?
Everything is much faster here in the first division and I need to learn how to make quicker decisions with the ball. The game is also much more athletic because every team has more American players compared to the A2 League last your where teams could only have two foreigners.
There is a lot of talk about you being a combo forward but the truth is that even at higher levels at competition you are playing more as a 4-5 than a 4-3. What is your best position?
For most of my career, I have worked to become more of a small forward but my team needs me to play more as a 4 or (small-ball) 5. Luckily I have the physical tools to play 3-4-5 so this should give me the opportunity to get even more minutes rather than being confined to just one position.
Your minutes and numbers have improved over the course of the season which culminated in a career game recently against Trieste. What has changed for you?
Coach has shown a lot of faith in me and I don’t want to disappoint him now. My goal is to simply to compete and play as hard as I can whenever I am on the court.
Do you work a lot in the weight room? Do you follow a specific diet?
I had the opportunity to develop the habit of working regularly in the weight room when I was in Rome training with Stella Azzurra Academy. Here in Pesaro, we spend less time in the weight room but I still try my best to go as much as possible on my own in order to maintain my muscle tone. I followed a specific diet last year in Rome where the team had somebody prepare my meals on a daily basis. This year I have been more on my own but I try to eat right and follow a diet that closely resembles the one I learned in the past. My favorite food is definitely spaghetti alla carbonara.
Do you wear a specific number on your jersey for a special reason?
I have been wearing the number twelve since I began playing professionally in Rome simply because April 12th was the day I first arrived in Italy and began this wonderful adventure!
You are expected to put your name in the NBA Draft next summer – are you ready to come to the USA right away or do you think you might need another year preparing overseas?
I am used to being followed by NBA scouts at this point. Last summer I had pre-draft workouts with seven different NBA teams. It was a great experience for me and I got a better idea of where I need to improve. Last year I pulled my name out because I didn’t feel that I was ready. I am more confident now and I think I will be better prepared if I put my name in the draft again next summer — but I am not in a hurry. One step at a time.
Tell me about your experience at 2018 Basketball Without Border in Los Angeles.
It was a great experience for me! I admit I was a little nervous when I first got there and was almost intimidated by some of the big names but once we started playing I settled down and did pretty well. I felt that my body was more mature than many of the other guys there and this helped me stand out too. It really helped me become more confident in myself. After this camp, I knew I could compete with the other top international players in my age group.
Do you model your game after any specific NBA or international player?
I definitely try to model my game a lot after Pascal Siakam. I also try to copy some things from Kawhi Leonard and to a lesser degree, Giannis Antetokoumpo.
Do you watch a lot of NBA games?
To be honest not much because the games come on so late at night and I usually go to bed pretty early. I do watch a lot of Euroleague games though. I really like Kyle Hines and Mike James from CSKA.
Who is the toughest player that you have faced so far in your career?
It is hard to say but I think the two most talented guys I have guarded are Luka Samanic (with whom I became good friends after BWB Camp) and Sekou Doumbouya.
What are 3-4 words that would best describe you as a person?
Humble – worker – altruistic.
What is your biggest passion outside of basketball?
I like to spend time with my friends and I watch a lot of Netflix. I like to listen to music too of course – mostly hip-hop, R&B, and French Rap. Lately, I have been listening to Chris Brown a lot.
What are your long-term goals? Describe how you see your life 10 years from now?
It's hard to say, I am only 19 years old and that seems such a long way in the future! Hopefully, I will be playing in the NBA though.