The Washington Wizards have spent the last few years bolstering their roster with young promising talent, and 24 year-old forward Rui Hachimura is at the center of the franchise’s rebuild. In his three seasons in D.C., Hachimura has averaged 13 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. In 2021-2022, he shot a career high 44.7% from three point range.
Casual fans tuning into a Wizards game might see a 6’8” player looking to carve out a role in the NBA, displaying flashes of promise throughout the season. However, there’s a lot more to Hachimura’s background that makes his ascension impressive.
Hachimura only started to get into the sport when he was 13. His career started rather innocently when his friend asked him to play on the junior high school team, but that was all it took for the teenager to fall in love with the game.
Even though Hachimura participated in other activities like baseball, karate and track and field growing up, it was clear that basketball would ultimately be his focus. He would end up playing for Meisei High School, and led them to three consecutive national titles.
Despite growing up in Toyama, Hachimura would visit the vibrant capital city of Tokyo as a kid. To this day, he proudly represents his Japanese heritage, but acknowledges that he faced some challenges as a bi-racial child raised in the country. Hachimura’s father was Beninese and his mother was Japanese.
“There’s a lot of mixed kids in Japan right now, especially in Tokyo and I know how they feel,” Hachimura said. “When I was a kid I was always trying to hide from people you know, because I was kind of different from other people, so that’s why…I(later) realized how good it is to be a mixed kid, it’s really good to be black and Japanese.” Via Olympics.com
Hachimura’s performance garnered attention from across the ocean, specifically from Gonzaga University assistant head coach Tommy Lloyd. He would often visit Japan to scout Hachimura, and felt that he would be an excellent addition to the program located in Spokane, Washington. The future NBA player was offered a full scholarship by the school.
With limited English language skills, Hachimura’s adjustment to life at an American college was not easy. There would often be misunderstandings between him and his Bulldogs teammates and coaches, but the Japanese native worked hard to improve in all areas. After all, he had taken the SAT five times to satisfy admission requirements, so he planned to make the most of his experience.
Hachimura had the special opportunity to represent his native country in the 2020 Olympics, held in 2021 in Tokyo. He played very well in the tournament, averaging over 22 points per game. Before the games began, he spoke about how honored he was to be selected.
“I would like to put the weight of the Hinomaru (flag) on my shoulders with my teammates, coaches and staff, and work hard as a team to play in a way that makes all of Japan proud,” Hachimura said. Via English.Kyodonews.net