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Complete list of international No. 1 NBA Draft picks: Zaccharie Risacher and Alexandre Sarr could join an exclusive group

Come on les Bleus…

The 2024 NBA Draft is widely considered one of the worst in the league’s history. Still, it’s nothing more than a reflection of how global the game has become. Not one, but two international prospects – both from France – are seen as legitimate candidates for the No. 1 pick.

Alexandre Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher have emerged as genuine contenders for the top spot in this year’s draft. Assuming either duo hears their name called in the opening moments of the draft, they’ll join foreign standouts Hakeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming and Victor Wembanyama as international prospects to receive the ultimate award for a drafted talent.

Here is a cumulative list of the few proud international talents selected first in the NBA Draft.

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Complete list of international #1 picks in NBA history

Only three international players with no competitive experience in the United States have earned the distinction of having their name selected first overall in the NBA Draft: China’s Yao Ming (2002), Italy’s Andrea Bargnani (2006) and France’s Victor Wembanyama (2023).

Another 11 players who were born outside the borders of the United States but played amateur ball in the U.S. for some time also received the honor: Mychal Thompson of the Bahamas (1978), Hakeem Olajuwon of Nigeria (1984), Patrick Ewing of Jamaica (1985), Tim Duncan from Virgin Island (1997), Michael Olowokandi from Nigeria (1998), Andrew Bogut from Australia (2005), Kyrie Irving from Australia (2011), Anthony Bennett from Canada (2013), Andrew Wiggins from Canada (2014), Ben Simmons from Australia (2016) and Deandre Ayton from the Bahamas (2018).

Here is the complete list of international players going No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft:

Year Team Player Country School club
2023 San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama France Metropolitans 92
2018 Phoenix suns Deandre Ayton Bahamas Arizona
2016 Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons Australia LSU
2014 Cleveland Cavaliers Andreas Wiggins Canada Kansas
2013 Cleveland Cavaliers Anthony Bennett Canada UNLV
2011 Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Australia Duke
2006 New York Knicks Andrea Bargnani Italy Benetton Treviso
2005 Milwaukee Bucks Andreas Bogut Australia Utah
2002 Houston Rockets Yao Ming China Shanghai sharks
1998 Los Angeles Clippers Michael Olowokandi Nigeria Pacific
1997 San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan American virgin islands* Wake up forest
1985 New York Knicks Patrick Ewing Jamaica Georgetown
1984 Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon Nigeria Houston
1978 Portland Trail Blazers Mychal Thompson Bahamas Minnesota

*Although Duncan is from the US Virgin Islands, he is an American citizen by birth