WASHINGTON – Rui Hachimura, the first Japanese player selected in the opening round of the NBA draft, embarked on his professional basketball career Tuesday on the first day of the Washington Wizards’ mini-camp.
The 21-year-old, who was claimed by the Wizards with the ninth pick on Thursday after three seasons at Gonzaga University, said he was a bit overwhelmed by the size of his new organization but sensed he was in good company.
“I feel like there are a lot of people,” Hachimura said. “It’s hard because there are a lot of coaches, staff and other people to remember, but they’re all good people and I feel like I’m playing for a good team.”
Sporting a Wizards practice jersey, Hachimura took part in four-on-four drills with other recent Washington additions Admiral Schofield, Justin Robinson and Issuf Sanon.
The three-day mini-camp is a warmup for the team’s Summer League games starting next week in Las Vegas.
After about three hours of practice, Hachimura was swarmed by members of U.S. and Japanese media vying for his attention.
When asked how his first day went, Hachimura said starting out with the Summer League squad has resulted in positive feelings at the camp, where he plans to showcase his skillset in order to take on a central role within the team.
“I want to display (my talent) in order to become the center of the team,” he said. “Along with that, communication is also huge, so I want to take the initiative in communicating with players and coaches.”
The 203-cm small forward also shed light on his first interactions with the Wizards’ coaching staff.
“Since it was the first time, I was told various things about offense and defense,” he said. “If you don’t listen to each word, you’ll fall behind.”
The Wizards will face top draft pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.