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How Leandro Barbosa cultivated Warriors draft pick Gui Santos’ NBA dream in Brazil

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The future of Brazilian basketball has become an expert on American pop culture: movies, TV shows, and even hit songs.

During his first professional season in Brazil’s top league, Santos, then a gangly 16-year-old, asked his most famous teammate, former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa, what he needed to do to reach the highest level of the sport. Barbosa offered a long list of advice that included working hard and being receptive to criticism, but one thing that resonated with Santos the most: Learn English.

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While answering questions Friday alongside fellow Golden State draft picks Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins during an introductory news conference at the Chase Center, Santos spoke near-fluent English, a testament to numerous hours studying film, television and US music. As he surveyed the crowd, Barbosa, now a Warriors player mentor coach, felt like a proud father.

When Santos met Barbosa in the fall of 2018, his NBA dream was just that: a dream. Now, after becoming one of the top prospects in South America, Santos hopes to make that fantasy a reality.

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