BROOKLYN — On Thursday night, Olivier-Maxence Prosper’s life was forever changed when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Prosper’s name — a moment every basketball player dreams of. Prosper, the No. 24 pick by the Sacramento Kings (who was then dealt to the Dallas Mavericks) embraced the moment fully.
With the cameras surrounding him, Prosper pointed a finger to the sky and shared a long embrace with his mom, dad and sister.
“Getting drafted has always been a dream of mine,” Prosper, a former Marquette star, told NBA.com last week. “As a kid, you always want to go play in the NBA.”
Basketball was always in Prosper’s blood. His mother, Guylaine, and his father, Gaetan, played college basketball at Concordia University, with Guylaine also playing for the Canadian National team. The two decided to raise Olivier — known as “O-Max” to many — and his sister, Cassandre, in Montreal.
Prosper was so young when he first picked up a basketball that he doesn’t even remember it. “It wasn’t a type of decision for me to play basketball,” he said. “I naturally gravitated towards it.”
At two years old, he cheered on his parents during their senior league games. Whenever there was a break in play, he would run around the court with a basketball.
“Since he was able to walk, he was playing with a ball,” Guylaine Prosper said.
After moving away from Montreal to pursue basketball, Olivier-Maxence Prosper decided to transfer to the NBA Academy Latin America in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
By transferring to the academy, he would play with some of the best competition in the world, receive professional training and play in front of college and NBA scouts. “It was one of the best decisions I made for my career,” he said.
The academy allowed Prosper to mature and grow. Although he disciplined and hard-working before attending the academy, once he was there he realized he had to put in more work to reach the next level.
“He kept a daily journal, practiced extra ball handling skills with tennis balls and did pushups in his room,” said his NBA Academy coach, Walter Roese.
Prosper credits the academy’s coaching staff for helping him understand the nuances of the game and properly analyzing his own game.
“O-Max was mature and responsible beyond his years,” Roese said. “He always believed that one day he could be playing in the NBA.”
Members of the academy’s front office still check up on Prosper and give him advice to this day.
“We are so proud of O-Max,” said Chris Ebersole, Vice President of International Basketball Operations at the NBA. “He is an incredibly dynamic and explosive player, but on top of that, what has always made him so special is how he carries himself as a teammate and a leader off the court.”
The academy also reunited Prosper with Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, a fellow Montrealer and former AAU teammate of his. The two rekindled their friendship and became close friends after spending a year together in Mexico.
“Benn’s my guy,” Prosper said. “Seeing what he did this year with the Pacers, that’s something we would talk about when we were younger. We always knew we would get to this point.”
Neither Prosper nor Mathurin was a top 100 recruit coming out of the NBA Academy. They earned their opportunities, worked hard, and now, the former AAU and NBA Academy teammates are first-round picks in back-to-back Drafts.
Mathurin has offered advice to his former teammate throughout the Draft process, telling him to be himself and control what he can control. Unlike Mathurin, though, Prosper steered clear of making any bold claims comparing himself to LeBron James.
After graduating from the academy and spending his freshman year at Clemson, Prosper transferred to Marquette and played two seasons there. He shined during the 2022-23 season, averaging 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, leading Marquette to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Prosper played in three NCAA Tournament games in his two seasons at Marquette, averaging 14.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg and soaking in the big moments he faced.
“I love the big moments,” he said. “Those are the moments you live for. [My mindset is to] go out there and have fun.”
Marquette coach Shaka Smart says Prosper never shies away from challenges. “He’ll take on the biggest competition, and he always does it with an attitude of confidence and team-orientation,” Smart said.
Prosper’s knack for the big moments paid off in his pre-Draft workouts. His stock rose after his performance there and was one of 25 prospects invited to the NBA Draft’s green room. He’ll join a Dallas roster searching for energy and intangibles, which Prosper considers his strengths.
“I’m a guy that comes in and brings a spark to a team,” Prosper said. “[I] bring a lot of energy, help teams defensively, guard multiple positions, stretch the floor and knock down open shots.
“I compete [and] leave everything on the floor. They’re never going to question my effort out there.”
Prosper’s mantra is that you are where your feet are. On Thursday, those feet were inside a pair of off-black Fedor shoes, and they stood next to Silver on the Draft podium. Over the past 20 years, his feet have also touched down in Milwaukee, Mexico and Montreal.
In a few months, Prosper’s feet will grace an NBA hardwood for the first time, which he’s more than ready for.
On Draft night, the emotions took over and, after his media circuit, Prosper stared at the stage teary eyed, taking it all in. His infectious smile lit up the room.
“Every moment is precious,” he said. “That’s the best way to live life.”