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Bilal Coulibaly Shines in Rising Stars Game

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

At just 19 years old, Washington Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly has quietly made a name for himself as a budding talent in the NBA. Although the Wizards season hasn’t met expectations, Coulibaly has shined despite the team’s challenges. So much so that assistant coaches around the league voted him into his first Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. 

Coulibaly showed up to Indianapolis with a star design braided in his head and the humble confidence that always follows him. As someone who grew up watching All-Star games in France, Coulibaly was excited for the opportunity to be apart of the weekend. 

Double Take Sports was onsite to talk to Coulibaly before the game about participating in Rising Stars: “It’s a big opportunity. Everybody’s going to be watching that…like the whole world. So just want to do a good impression, be competitive, and show what I can do.”

Three of the four teams participating in Rising Stars were drafted by basketball legends Pao Gasol, Tamika Catchings, and Jalen Rose. The fourth team was coached by Detlef Schrempf and comprised of NBA G-League players. 

Coulibaly was drafted by Gasol to play for Team Pau and was joined by his former Metropolitans 92 teammate in France, Victor Wembanyama, as well as Brandon Miller, Brandin Podziemski, Jamie Jaquez Jr., Jabari Smith Jr., and Cason Wallace.

The 2024 Rising Stars Challenge was a four-team, single elimination tournament. Each game was played to a target score, rather than played under a set time limit. The first round of games were played to a target score of 40. The championship game was played to a target score of 25. 

Team Pau did not make it to the championship round but Coulibaly was still able to show off his skills. He finished with four points but similar to his play with the Wizards, it was Coulibaly’s defense that did not show up on the stat sheet.

“I loved it. I loved it. Even though we lost, it was a great time. It was a great time meeting new people, having fun on the court with my ex-teammate Wemby. So yeah, it was just a fun time.” 

Ultimately, Team Jalen (Rose) walked away with the championship but Coulibaly walked away with the experience of a lifetime.