Lakers wing, Rui Hachimura is a Japanese professional basketball player currently in his 4th year in the city. He was born on February 8, 1998, in Toyama, Japan, and grew up playing basketball. His parents were both athletes – his mother played basketball, while his father played rugby – so it was only natural for Hachimura to follow in their athletic footsteps.
Hachimura’s love for basketball began at a young age, and he started playing organized basketball when he was in junior high school. He then attended Meisei High School, one of the top high schools for basketball in Japan. During his time there, he helped lead the school’s team to three consecutive All-Japan High School Tournament titles. In his final year, he averaged 22.3 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
After high school, Hachimura decided to pursue his basketball career in the United States and enrolled at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He played for the Gonzaga Bulldogs for three seasons from 2017 to 2019, and during that time, he became one of the most dominant players in college basketball.
In his freshman year, Hachimura played a limited role, averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. However, he quickly established himself as a key player in his sophomore year, averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He was named to the All-West Coast Conference Second Team and helped Gonzaga reach the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Hachimura’s breakout season came in his junior year, where he averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. He was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year and was also a finalist for the Julius Erving Award, which is given to the top small forward in college basketball. Hachimura helped lead Gonzaga to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Texas Tech.
After his junior year, Hachimura decided to declare for the NBA draft, where he was selected ninth overall by the Washington Wizards.
Since joining the Wizards, Hachimura has continued to impress with his play on the court. He made his NBA debut on October 23, 2019, in a game against the Dallas Mavericks, where he scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. He became the first Japanese-born player to record a double-double in an NBA game. Throughout his rookie season, Hachimura proved to be a valuable asset for the Wizards, averaging 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Hachimura’s playing style is characterized by his athleticism and versatility. As a versatile forward, he is capable of playing both the small forward and power forward positions. Rui also possesses a strong frame and is known for his ability to drive to the basket and finish with authority. An effective mid-range shooter, Rui has been working on expanding his range to become a better three-point shooter.
Off the court, Hachimura is known for his humility and work ethic. He has talked openly about the challenges he has faced as a Japanese player in the NBA, including the language barrier and the adjustment to American culture. However, he has embraced these challenges and has worked hard to overcome them.
Hachimura is also known for his love of fashion. He has been featured in various fashion magazines and has even designed his own clothing line. His fashion sense is characterized by his unique blend of Japanese and American styles, and he has become something of a style icon among NBA fans.
Though there has been some talk of Hachimura having serious star potential on the court, that is likely the result of a large market bias since being traded to the Lakers. Hachimura’s per 36 minute numbers have not improved much since his rookie season, and he has even regressed slightly in some areas. A more accurate assessment of Rui is that he is a solid 3rd to 4th option with some scoring punch and defensive versatility due to his size and athletic ability.