Many NBA fans have recently asked, “Is Paolo Banchero Italian?” The answer is yes, the Orlando Magic’s power forward has prominent love for his Italian heritage.
He even framed the Azzurri (nickname for the Italian national team) jersey that he received for the first time.
However, controversy broke out when Banchero announced he would play in the FIBA World Tournament with the US national team.
Paolo Banchero is an Italian-American professional basketball player born in Seattle, Washington, on 12th November 2002.
Banchero played collegiate basketball for the Duke Blue Devils and was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2022.
He declared for the 2022 NBA draft following his freshman year for the Blue Devils.
Banchero was surprised when he was selected with the first overall pick by the Orlando Magic. Later, he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2023.
Paolo Banchero Nationality: Is Paolo Banchero Italian?
Paolo Banchero is American by birth. But, the name “Paolo” honors the solid Italian heritage from his father’s side.
Even though he was neither born nor raised in Italy, the country was close to his heart due to his Italian roots.
The NBA’s Rookie of the Year received his Italian passport in the summer of 2020 and was eligible to play for the Italian national team since then.
In fact, the Italian national team reached out to his dad when Paolo was just 16. Since Banchero’s great-grandfather was the son of Italian immigrants, the process of getting him Italian citizenship started.
Banchero flew to San Francisco multiple times to meet them at the Italian embassy. After a few meetings, he finally got his Italian passport.
Likewise, the player also received tons of love and support from Italy. Sadly, he missed the opportunity to represent the Azzurri in the Tokyo Olympics following the Covid delays.
Later, Banchero was selected for the Italy squad for the EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers. He was very hyped to play for Italy at the senior level.
However, Banchero’s relationship with his dream country turned sour despite his longing wishes to represent the nation.
The head coach of the senior men’s Italy national team, Gianmarco Pozzecco, did not include him in the preliminary Italian squad list last April.
Due to the complicated situation, Banchero is reportedly set to represent his country of birth at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Paolo Banchero Ethnicity
Paolo Banchero is of mixed ethnicity. He was born to his father, Mario Banchero, and his mother, Rhonda Smith.
Banchero is of African-American descent on his mother’s side and Italian descent on his father’s side.
Near the turn of the 20th century, Mario’s ancestors immigrated from Moretta, Italy, and settled in Black Diamond, Washington.
Although they worked in the coal mines at first, his great-grandfather started a cattle farm.
His Italian roots are also visible in the names of his family members. His uncles’ names are Angelo and Armando, whereas his brother’s name is Giulio.
Despite her African-American heredity, Rhonda’s family also had deep roots in Seattle. She and Mario grew up three blocks from each other in the Rainier Valley area of Seattle.
Paolo Banchero Religion
While his ancestry is a much-debated subject, little is known about Banchero’s religion. The player has not openly stated his faith in the media to date.
Nevertheless, his father grew up in a catholic home and has embraced his Catholic beliefs till now. Further, his mother coached at a private girls’ Catholic school, Holy Names.
So, we can presume that he believes in Catholicism despite the fact that the player himself has not revealed his religion and faith.