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France: Sonics Sign Petro

12 July 2005

French teenager Johan Petro towers over most people at 214 cm.

And, like most young hoopsters around the world, he loves the NBA.

But the 25th pick in this year's draft by Seattle will need to improve his strength before he makes an impact in the league.

He signed with Seattle on Monday before practicing with the team for the first time.

Originally expected to play for France at the U20 European Championships in Russia, Petro will instead remain in the United States and play for the Sonics' summer league team, which begins play on Friday.

Petro averaged less 13 minutes per game this season with Pau with strength, or rather lack of, limiting his court time.

But he is confident that one day he will be successful in the NBA.

"I feel it's a good fit for my style of play and how I like to play," Petro said. "I feel my style complements the up-tempo style Seattle plays with."

The Sonics do expect the 19-year-old to improve his strength.

Jack Sikma, a former NBA star with the Sonics who will coach the summer league team, said:

"He's got a body you can hang some weight on; with a couple of years with Coach (Dwight) Daub, his leg strength will improve, and that's big in this league, being able to hold your position."

Petro does have long arms and the ability to run the court, and has received good training with the coaching staff at Pau Orthez.

Unfortunately for France, they will not have his services at FIBA Europe's U20 European Championship in Russia.

The Sonics are very optimistic about his future with the team.

"He's active. He competes," said Sikma, after watching Petro practice.

"You can tell he played in a pro league last year; he didn't let anybody body him out of there. He's got to develop some technique defensively, just understand the NBA rules."

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