Thomas Ndong is yet another up-and-comer from Quebec, Canada, a region which has steadily produced a hotbed of basketball talent in recent years such as Luguentz Dort and Chris Boucher. At the 2019 U15 Canadian National Championships, the 6’8'' power forward helped Team Quebec knock off Team Ontario for the gold medal by tallying seven points and 11 rebounds. Ndong’s basketball journey had previously taken him from his hometown of Montreal to Royal Crown Academy in Ontario, Canada — then in December, he moved to join the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City and has made huge improvements to his game as a versatile frontcourt player.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Ndong discusses a day in the life at the NBA Academy Latin America, who he looks up to, basketball culture in Quebec, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Thomas Ndong, from Montreal, Canada:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit of your background?
Thomas Ndong: My dad is African and my mom is Canadian. I lived in Quebec for all of my life. I'm here in Mexico because the manager of Team Quebec, he shared about me to an [NBA Academy] coach and then the coach saw some highlights and he sent me an [NBA Academy] invitation. I took this opportunity to come and improve myself more.
PI: Prior to that, you were at Royal Crown Academy?
TN: Yeah, I was at Royal Crown Academy for the first semester last year and I came to the NBA Academy after Christmas.
PI: What are some of the main things at the NBA Academy that have helped you with improving your game?
TN: The coaches. The coaches are very good. They understand what I need to do and will show me drills that will allow me to improve. Yeah, they are always looking for improvements [from us].
PI: How’s life at the NBA Academy? What does a typical day in the life of Thomas look like?
TN: I wake up in the morning. Go eat breakfast. Class from 8 AM to 11 AM. 11:15 AM, we are in the gym practicing. And Tuesday to Thursday, we have weight lifting. After that, we go eat lunch at 1 PM. We start practicing again at 4:45 PM. And then we got class from 6 PM to 8 PM. After that, dinner is at 8:30 PM. It’s a long day, but it goes so fast.
PI: What are some of your biggest interests outside of basketball?
TN: My biggest interest I'll say it’s reading and watching basketball videos to learn some moves that I can practice — new moves. Yeah, reading for sure. Talking to my family everyday. That’s about it.
PI: What apps are you on the most?
TN: The apps I am on the most, it's of course, WhatsApp because I get to talk to my family through WhatsApp — and YouTube because I'm watching basketball videos every time I can. So I can see and analyze for example, people in the States, what can I do better? What can I do so I can be better than them? I’m looking at the class of 2023 teenagers in basketball and analyzing these players to know what I can do better.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
TN: My favorite music artist I’ll say is Pop Smoke.
PI: For those who don’t know, describe your game.
TN: I’m a power forward, which means that I can drive to the basket. I’m like a post/guard, it depends sometimes. I can shoot the ball. For example, if I finish a play, I can shoot it and make the basket, or if I'm really wide open, I'm confident. I'm confident with my shot and I play defense. I can guard point guards sometimes.
PI: What is your biggest strength on the court?
TN: I think rebounding is one of my strong points, one of my strengths because I’m tall. I’m six-foot-eight, so it’s kind of easier to get the rebounds.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
TN: My shot, because I didn't used to be a shooter before and I’ve really improved my shot a lot. So people, they used to give me space because they think I cannot shoot. Now they have to guard me closer.
PI: Who do you model your game after and study on film?
TN: The player I watch a ton of videos on is Tracy McGrady. He doesn’t play anymore, but I watched a lot of his games because I’m trying to be a player who can be like him. Like he can shoot, he can drive to the basket and dunk the ball. He’s the kind of overall the player I want to be.
PI: Coming from the Quebec area, did you watch some Luguentz Dort as well?
TN: Yes, I saw a bit of his videos because we played together. We met each other on the court one time because he went to a tryout at Toronto at Royal Crown. I saw him play and I was like, “this guy is nice, but I think I can surprise him one day” and he kind of motivates me to surprise myself everyday, for sure.
PI: How has the basketball culture in Quebec evolved and continued to grow?