In a conversation with his teammate R.J. Hampton, No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero talked about the process of getting Italian citizenship, his plans to join the Italian national team, and the amount of love he's receiving from the country.

Credit: Scanpix
Credit Scanpix

Paolo Banchero started his NBA career in the best way possible. Since the beginning of the season, the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft scored at least 20 points in every single game, and he's already building the reputation of a potential superstar in the league. 

Points this season

Points made: 105,6
Accuracy: 45,5%
Place in standings: 27
Record max: 120
Record min: 92
Best scorer: Paolo Banchero

If there's one country with a lot of excitement for this young man, it's definitely Italy. Banchero received his Italian passport in the summer of 2020 and is now eligible to play for the Italian national team. 

During a conversation with his Orlando Magic teammate R.J. Hampton, who hosts the show 'Young Person,' Banchero explained the process that led him to get the Italian passport. 

"When I was 16, the Italian national team reached out to my dad," Banchero explained during the podcast. "They were like, 'does he have Italian roots? Can he get citizenship? And my dad told them yes. So the whole process started, I flew to San Francisco multiple times to meet them at the Italian embassy, we had a few meetings, and I ended up getting my Italian passport."

"I'm planning to play for the Italian national team, I'm not sure when," Banchero added. "I haven't been out there yet, but man, the amount of love I'm getting from there it's crazy, man. It's crazy. I can't wait to go to Italy". 

During the podcast, R.J. Hampton even joked that he'd like to play for the Italian national team: 'I might have some Italian in me, so if they need a PG, let me know."

The Orlando Magic rookie also explained a little more about his Italian roots and how he grew up wondering why his name was so different from the other kids. 

"My dad's side is Italian. His great-grandfather, my great great grandfather, was born in Italy and then moved all the way to Seattle and built a family there," Banchero said.

"So my father's grandfather and his father they all from Seattle but with Italian roots. You know, growing up, I was always wondering why my name was Paolo Banchero, it was so different from all the other kids.

My father's name is Mario, my uncle's name is Angelo, my other uncle's name is Armando, and my brother's name is Giulio, so when I got a little bit older, my father explained to me about our roots in Italy. You know, my father has never been to Italy, so we're kind of new to it."

In another section of the podcast, Hampton talked about his experience with the youth teams of USA basketball. Banchero mentioned that he did a tryout for the USA U17 team when he was only 15, but he didn't make the cut. 

"I've never been on a USA team, man," Banchero told Hampton.

"You'll be a part of it soon, man," Hampton replied.

However, Banchero denied it: Nah, I'm with Italy now."

Italian NT head coach Gianmarco Pozzecco, Italian national team's GM Salvatore Trainotti, and president of the Italian basketball federation Gianni Petrucci are all expected to fly to the USA soon to meet with Banchero and to talk about the possibility of having him on the team for the 2023 FIBA World Cup next summer. 

In a recent interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Banchero said that playing in the World Cup is his goal. Still, he also added that he'd decide about it only later since he has only started his rookie season. 

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Paolo Banchero

Paolo  Banchero
Paolo  Banchero
MIN: 33.19
PTS: 22.71 (53.59%)
REB: 7.57
As: 3.86
ST: 0.57
BL: 1.14
TO: 2.57
GM: 7