Posted On: 10/20/18 9:33 AM

It isn’t every day that you’re at an event and see a 6-foot-8 freshman from Congo walk into the gym. Last weekend at Hoop Group’s Exposure Tour in Baltimore, that’s exactly what happened. Cesar Tchilombo arrived in the United States this past July and while his English is still a work in progress, he knows exactly the opportunity he’ll have to make a better life for himself at John Carroll.


“This is my victory, coming the the States,” Tchilombo continued, “in Congo life is hard. They don’t take sports serious like they do here.”


I wanted to wait until the game portion of the event to really dissect Tchilombo’s game. Once it began, he made his presence felt immediately. Tchilombo has an extremely long wingspan and shoulders that will fill out nicely once he is put it in a regulated weight lifting program. Considering John Carroll’s assistant coach Jeremy Mellady’s track record with developing players both in the weight room and on the floor, the Congo native is in the best hands possible for his development to peak.


Tchilombo displayed his potential to become an elite shot blocker on the defensive end. He reacted well on drives as the weakside defender. However the American game is much faster than anything Tchilombo has seen, so there were times where he was caught out of position and tried to recover, which resulted in a foul. With experience, I expect that aspect to improve dramatically.


Tchilombo has a good motor and mindset when it comes to running the floor. Even when he is the one grabbing the rebound, he’s looking for a guard and acts as a rim-runner in transition.


Offensively, his post game has obvious room for improvement. One skill that I noticed translated well is his ability to set solid ball screens and roll hard to the basket. There were a few times when the ball handling guard threaded the needle with passes to Tchilombo and he handled it well with a few finishes that were over the rim.


For the now, Tchilombo towers over the majority of players on the court, but with the direction basketball is going, it wouldn’t shock me to develop into more of a stretch big or wing. Tchilombo seems to be very aware himself when I asked what NBA players he wants to play like.


“Giannis [Antetokounmpo],” Tchilombo said immediately.


Trying to make a connection with his playing style, I asked if he watched any of Joel Embiid.


“I do not like Joel Embiid,” Tchilombo continued, “I don’t like the way he plays. If I had to choose it would be Giannis first and LeBron [James] second.”