2009 International Prospects
By Aran Smith
Much like the NCAA, the overall talent level on the International scene is down from recent seasons. With Europe's top dog Ricky Rubio considered likely to wait a season before entering the draft, the pickings are slim among draft prospects. The following is a list of the top (potentially draft eligible 1987-1990) International draft prospects (including a note on whether they are considered likely to enter this year's draft).
Top 10 International Prospects
1. Ricky Rubio 6-4 180 PG DKV Joventut (Spain)
1990 -- The Spanish phenomenon missed the early part of the season due to a wrist injury.
He's back regaining his form and a virtual lock to be a top 5 pick whenever
he comes out, but that's likely to be next year. The track record of Spanish
guards going to the NBA suggests that he should be patient as Jose Calderon
developed in Europe and has flourished, while the more highly acclaimed Sergio
Rodrigeuz went straight to the NBA at age 18 and has been slow to realize his
potential. The electrifying Spaniard, Rubio, gained fans world wide with his
spirited play in the Olympics running the show at such a young age. Unlikely
2. Brandon Jennings 6-1 170 PG Roma (USA) 1989 -- The prep-to-Euro trailblazer has had his ups and downs but one thing he has not lacked is press coverage. Jennings has few peers in terms of sheer talent in this year's draft class. The CPT native has learned to play a completely different game and while he likely would have had more development playing in the NCAA, he has gained a valuable year of professional experience. The perspective he has gained both on and off the court will ultimately be a valuable asset to his career. Lock to enter.
Photo: Ohad Redlich
3. Donatas Motiejunas 6-11 220 PF Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania) 1990 -- A real talent with the potential to be a top 20 player in the NBA someday. He's a lefty with tremendous touch, a 7-foot frame with excellent agility, and he's just 19 years of age giving him huge upside. He struggled in Treviso last summer but has had a few stand out performances this season. He would likely find a spot in the late first round this year, but an additional year in Lithuania will give him a good chance to be a lotto pick. Unlikely to Enter.
4. Omri Casspi 6-8 220 SF Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) 1988 -- The odds on favorite to be the first European born player drafted in 2009. Casspi also stands a good chance to be the first Israeli to play in the NBA. He has matured considerably over the past year and is having a strong season. Contacts and scouts in Europe feel he'll have a shot to go in the mid-to-late teens on draft night. Casspi's style of play is summed up in one word "cojones". He plays with a strong will and fearlessness and should make for a solid energy/role player in the Najera or Kleiza role. Likely to Enter.
5. Jan Vesely 6-11 230 PF Partizan (Czech Republic)
1990 -- Vesely has had a breakout season showing vastly improved offensive
skills to accompany his long athletic frame. In Treviso, last June, he flashed
his excellent agility but struggled with consistency. He is obviously on a huge
development curve having gained a lot of confidence and ability in a short amount
of time. Look for him to develop into a possible lottery pick in the next few seasons.
Unlikely to Enter.
6. Mario Delas 6-9 200 SF/PF KK Split (Croatia) 1990 -- A European version of Rashard Lewis. Delas has jumped his more publicized countryman Zubcic as the top Croatian prospect. Has a decent shooting touch but a slow release. He's an intense, extremely quick combo forward with excellent one on one skills and potential. But at just 19 and with a lack of great strength, he needs time. Look for him to become one of the most talked about European prospects in the next few seasons. Unlikely to Enter.
7. Tomislav Zubcic 6-11 210 SF Cibona (Croatia) 1990 -- Zubcic's similarity to recent Russian flop Yaroslav Korolev might be his biggest flaw. He's a highly versatile forward and shows a lot of tools to develop. His length and agility allows him to defend and board, but he also shows a nice offensive game with the vision to find teammates and the explosiveness to finish at the rim. Unlikely to Enter.
8. Victor Claver 6-10 236 SF Pamesa Valencia (Spain) 1988 -- Claver was coming into his own before suffering an unfortunate leg injury which cost him the season. It's unlikely that he will be near full strength or able to show anything before the draft. Claver has an Andres Nocioni type of heart and gritty style of game. He has some positional issues being a little slow footed and lacking strength to play inside, but look for him to rebound next year and make a strong run at a first round spot. Unlikely to Enter.
9. Luigi Datome 6-8 210 SF Roma (Italy) 1987 -- Datome was a big name 2-3 years ago but sort of disappeared. He has had a breakthrough season showing late development and confidence. He's always had the athleticism and potential, but has gotten healthy and his game has really grown. He'll have a good shot to be drafted if he can finish the season strong. Eligible for the Draft.
10. Emir Preldzic 6-8 220 SF Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Slovenia) 1987 -- Has received lots of playing time and performed well. He still needs to round out his offensive game adding better shooting skills and consistency. His athleticism and quickness should give him a shot to play in the NBA, but he still needs to smooth out the rough edges. Eligible for the Draft.
Nando De Colo
1987 International Rankings
1988 International Rankings
1989 International Rankings
1990 International Rankings
1991 International Rankings