Victor Wembanyama's eruption has made the audiences and the presence of fans skyrocket in the French league.

Credit: Franck Fife/AFP - Scanpix
Credit Franck Fife/AFP - Scanpix

It is often said that Victor Wembanyama is the most exciting project in the world of basketball since LeBron James. Only time will tell if these expectations will be met, but until then, there are several indications to show that the hype is real. 

With almost 1.2 million viewers in the regular season, the Betclic ELITE (French first division) has set a new all-time record. The record in spectators (3,190 on average) and the percentage of capacity on the slopes, with 87%, has also been broken.

It's obvious that apart from Boulogne-Levallois, there are many other teams in the league that make up the numbers and Wemby isn't the only reason.

Still, there is one statistic that makes clear his share in this meteoric rise in interest in basketball in France: Of the 306 games played, 117 were sell-outs. The percentage increases a lot when the Wembanyama's Metropolitans 92 played, since there was a sold-out in 25 of the 34 contests the Mets were involved in.

The 19-year-old NBA prospect isn't part of the all-time attendance record for a French league game (set this season with 16,319 spectators at Nanterre 92 – LDLC ASVEL), but he was present at the second-most attended outing, when the Mets took on JL Bourg Basket at the Bercy arena in front of 14,397 fans.

Overall, SLUC Nancy broke the average attendance club record with 5,829 spectators per match.

The French second division (Pro B) also had a record season with 670,000 spectators overall, which means 41,000 more than in 2015-2016. On average, Pro B matches were played in front of 2,194 spectators, enough to achieve the highest average attendance in the history of the division, passing the 2,000 mark for the second time.

The capacity rate reached 75%, another rise compared to 70% in 2011-2022. 

Under the watchful eye of his fellow countryman Rudy Gobert, Victor Wembanyama was instrumental in the Metropolitans' victory (81-69) against Cholet, thus sealing his team's place in the semi-finals of the French League.

The French prospect continues to sow panic in Europe before making the leap to the NBA and on Thursday night, he returned to produce 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks in 33 minutes. 

Wembanyama's next challenge will be ASVEL, his previous team and which is owned by Tony Parker, a French legend of the NBA franchise (San Antonio Spurs) that will most likely be his next employer.

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