The emergence of Rui Hachimura has absolutely been a catalyst for Japanese basketball and given younger Japanese players the inspiration to dream of one day reaching the NBA.

High school hoopsters Ibu Yamazaki and Bruce Kanno are perhaps the best examples of this among the current generation. In fact, the reason the pair decided to enroll at Meisei High School was to be like Hachimura, who became the first Japanese to be drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft last summer, when the Washington Wizards took him ninth overall.

Both displayed flashes of their promising talent at the All-Japan National High School Tournament late last month, when they helped guide the Sendai school to the quarterfinal round. Yamazaki has a Japanese mother and Guinean father while Kanno was born a Japanese mother and American father.