09 October, 2018
05 May, 2019
27 Jean-marc Pansa (NANT)
David Hein's Champions League Home Grown
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Pansa starting to make mark with Nanterre thanks to Seraphin, fishing

To help encourage the development of more young local talents, the Basketball Champions League requires its teams to register at least 5 Home Grown Players on the game score sheet (if 11 or more players listed, otherwise 4 if roster has 10 or fewer players). Many of these players are considered top level talents in their respective countries and I will be taking a look at some of them over the course of the season.

NANTERRE (France) - Jean-Marc Pansa took the path of many young talents before him, getting a big benefit from the basketball camp of a star player and carrying that to a high level. But the Nanterre 92 youngster also has his passion of fishing to thank for his emerging success in the Basketball Champions League.

Pansa has been a boost of energy off the bench in the low post for the French club in the BCL with the 21-year-old averaging 3.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 0.5 blocks in 10 games. But the 6ft 10in (2.08m) big man has really exploded in a couple of games, including 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks against Telekom Baskets Bonn; 10 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block against Opava; and 15 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block against Kauhajoki in the Qualifiers.

"For me, I think the Basketball Champions League is a very beautiful thing, and it allows me to gain experience,” said Pansa, won won’t turn 22 years until late August.

November 2017 BCL debut

This is actually Pansa’s second season playing in the BCL, collecting 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks against Zielona Gora in his debut in the competition on November 14.2017.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. For me, it was one of my best games in my career until now,” said Pansa, who averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10 BCL games last season for Nanterre.

Growing up with football in French Guiana

Pansa is from French Guiana located on the north Atlantic coast of South America and neighbors Suriname, where his parents were born and lived. Pansa, the second oldest of eight children with five brothers, grew up playing football for seven years, playing the game until he was 14 and a half years when he stopped to play basketball because he was tall.

“I would say that in French Guiana there is a lot of talent, especially with basketball. What we are missing is infrastructure and training,” Pansa said.

Kevin Seraphin camp

FrenchGuiana is also the home country to Kevin Seraphin, who has played in the NBA and currently plays for Barcelona in Spain. In 2014, Seraphin held a basketball camp in the country and Pansa attending the event.

It was thanks to a camp by French Guiana native Kevin Seraphin that Jean-Marc Pansa got his start at Nanterre.

“I was very happy and excited to participate and registered before the deadline,” he said.

It was at the camp that Nanterre offered Pansa to join the club’s training center in France.

“It was a great opportunity for me to develop my basketball,” said Pansa, who did get some pushback from his mother.

“My family was very happy for me, but my mother was especially scared that would only think of basketball and forget about school,” he said.

Hard work

Pansa arrived in France in 2015 - right around his 18th birthday. And he got to work right away, especially on his individual skills, catching him up to the others who started with the game earlier than he did.

After working with Nanterre’s youth system, Pansa’s work ethic caught the eye of pro coach Pascal Donnadieu and after dominating at the U21 Espoirs level, Pansa ended up making his French top flight debut on March 3, 2017 against Chalons-Reims and he scored his first professional points three weeks later against Gravelines. And his first international basket came on March 29 when he scored against Telekom Baskets Bonn in the FIBA Europe Cup.

For the 2017-18 season, started with a double contract with Nanterre’s senior and U21 teams as well as the French CFBB academy, also known as INSEP, for the French third division NM1. 

“What surprised me the most was the physical impact of playing with old players who have a lot of experience,” said Pansa about his four-game stint with CFBB.

He averaged 10.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the Espoirs team while collecting 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.0 minutes in the French top flight. Pansa also got in 10 Basketball Champions League games, averaging 2.7 points and 1.9 blocks in 7.3 minutes, including his impressive debut against Zielona Gora.

When asked to describe his quick progress, Pansa answered: “It's just a lot of hard work and perseverance and sacrifice.”

Patience from … fishing

It also helps when a player can have patience and be able to accept the time it takes from one step in the development to the next. And Pansa says he gets that from his passion for fishing. While the big man lists watching TV shows and movies and listening to music as his hobbies, he also has a real love for sitting waterside and waiting for a fish to bite

“I have been doing it since I was very young with my father, and the last time I did it was this summer,” he said. “It helps me a little to be even more patient.”

Show of love to Nanterre

This past summer, Pansa continued to work on his game, and it was the help he received from the people at Nanterre that made it an easy choice for him to sign a contract extension with the team until 2021.

“Nanterre is my house, and it’s here that everything started for me,” said Pansa, who wears No. 27 to honor his favorite player, French international Rudy Gobert.

Strong start to this season

Pansa started the season strong and it was the perfect time as Nanterre was dealing with some injuries early on. That gave him a chance to shine as he collected 14 points and 6 rebounds against Gravelines in the season opener and added 12 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block a couple of days later against Bourg, followed up about 10 days later with the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers game against Kahajoki.

Call from Vincent Collet

Those strong showings earned Pansa a call from Vincent Collet, the head coach of France’s senior national team. He wanted to bring Pansa to the French team training camp for the November/December 2018 window for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers. 

France head coach Vincent Collet had seen Jean-Marc Pansa's development and brought him to the senior national team camp in November 2018.

“It was my coach who announced it to me and it was a very rewarding experience,” said Pansa, who at the camp had his current teammate Konate Lahaou and former teammate Mathis Lessort. “I spent 10 days with them and I learned a lot of things already such as spacing in the game and making the right decisions at the right time.”

Pansa did not end up making the team for the Qualifiers but he would love a chance to play for France - especially on a Les Bleus team with Seraphin.

“That would give me great pride, especially for French Guiana.”

Back where it all started for Pansa - his earliest basketball moments and his passion for fishing.


The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.

The Basketball Champions League's takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

David Hein

David Hein

Walk into the media tribune of any major basketball event and there's a good chance you will come across David Hein. Having covered dozens of FIBA events, including numerous women's and youth events, there are few players Dave doesn't know about, and few players who don't know him. His sporting curiosity means he is always looking to unearth something new and a little bit special. David Hein's Champions League Home Grown is a weekly column digging out the freshest basketball talent in the competition and assessing what the basketball landscape will look like a couple of years down the line.