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International Blog

This year's draft has two International prospects, Mario Hezonja, and Kristaps Porzingis, that have established themselves above the rest and are seen by scouts as legitimate top 10 candidates. After that there are a number of potential second rounders and a few that could creep up into the late first round. Here is a look at the players who have made noise over the past month overseas.

Player of the Month

Mario Hezonja (’95, 6-7, SG, Croatia, FC Barcelona)

Mario HezonjaMario HezonjaHezonja has shined all season and in particular lately, capitalizing upon the increased minutes, due to the injuries to Navarro and Oleson. In his games played since December, the Croatian Golden Boy has increased his averages (6 ppg in ACB, 10 ppg in Euroleague) playing more than 20 minutes per game. He really raised some eyebrows with his February 1st performance against Manresa in which he hit 8-for-8 from 3 point, finishing with 24 pts and 6 assists. This two month stint has significantly boosted his stock, and he has really enhanced his chances of being a top 10 pick. Consistency is the one obstacle, especially for a team competing for the maximum European goal, but he has earned the chance to show all of his potential.

Hot

Kristaps Porzingis (’95, 7-1, PF, Latvia, Cajasol Seville)

Along with Hezonja, the Latvian forward prospect has also been confirming himself as a worthwhile top 10 pick in this year's NBA draft. He had a great game against Barcelona (an upset victory of Seville), where he destroyed the Catalan frontcourt from midrange and beyond the three point line, showing his entire skillset with versatility and talent. He’s starting to attack the basket with more confidence, also exploiting his height to shoot over the opponents, even if his thin frame limits his effectiveness within the post and when facing contact. Versatility could be considered both his strength and limitation since his lack of a precise role could limit his adaptability at the NBA level, but his skills and his upside are too high to be passed over. He’s averaging more than 12 points per game since December.

Aleksandar Vezenkov (’95, 6-8, SF, Bulgaria, Aris)

Vezenkov is shining in Greece, for a solid team, Aris, which is fighting to be among the first four spots in the league. His stats are eye opening with almost 18 points and 8 rebounds per game thus far, making him the top statistical performer in Europe among the International prospects potentially available for the next NBA draft. The 2.0 version of Teletovic is keeping his stock high, he could be considered the typical draft and stash pick, since he’ll probably decide to play for a top European team before heading to USA.

Nikola Milutinov (’94, 7-0, Serbia, Partizan Belgrade)

Milutinov has received consistent minutes this season, becoming a starter for a rebuilding Partizan team, currently sitting at 4th position in the ABA league. Standing 7-feet he has great size for the post position, combined with great footwork and wingspan. This makes him a solid defensive presence, also thanks to his sense of positioning and fundamentals. Offensively he has limited range, but the improvements made on his post game are quite encouraging: he can finish effectively with both hands with a good variety of finishes, even if he sometimes lacks toughness. He’s a solid passer showing a solid basketball IQ and court vision. He’s averaging 10 pts and 8.6 reb in the ABA league thus far.

Luka Mitrovic (’93, 6-8, PF, Serbia, Red Star Belgrade)

Mitrovic seems to have blossomed the very season in which he becomes automatically eligible: 10.8 pts 5.2 rb 2.1 ast (had a season high of 30 points against Galatasaray last November) in Euroleague, 10 points and 5.6 rb in ABA league his digits, with a steady and consistent role on a solid Euroleague team, Red Star Belgrade. He grew up playing with Novi Sad and made his debut as a senior in Hemofarm Vrsac before moving in 2012-2013 to Red Star. Standing 6-foot-8 he has a solid structure and long arms, but he still needs to bulk up to face the physicality of the NBA level. A solid athlete despite not being extremely explosive, he’s mobile and smooth running the floor, furthermore he shows a solid jumper from three point, basically in catch and shoot situations. He could be considered a tweener by NBA standards, since his game is based on facing the basket, but he has the potential and the technical skills to play in post position. Definitely a late bloomer with a high likelihood to be selected in the late second round.

Cold

Marc Garcia (’96, 6-6, SG, Spain, La Bruixa d’Or Manresa)

At the beginning of this season some considered Marc Garcia as a potential 2015 NBA draft prospect, after a solid season with Barcelona U18 team and Barcelona B team playing in Spanish second division. The Catalan powerhouse sent him on loan to Manresa, as they had previously done with Eriksson the year before. The results have not been positive, showing that Garcia is simply not ready yet to make a difference at the pro level. He averaged 5 points in 13 minutes on the court this season, decreased to 2.5 points over the last two months. He's a talented scorer but needs strength badly and time to round out his skill set.

Egmen Guven (’96, 6-10, PF, Turkey, Pinar Karsiyaka)

Guven was the MVP of the last U18 European championships in Konya, leading his team to the gold medal. His performances during the event made him a projected future first round pick, thanks to his skill set, balance and basketball IQ. This summer he signed a multi year contract with the Turkish first division team of Pinar Kasiyaka, but (4 pts and 3 rb of average) he hasn’t played a single minute since October.

Ilimane Diop (’95, 6-10, C, Spain, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria)

Despite the change of head coach in Vitoria, the situation of Diop hasn’t significantly changed since the beginning of the season. Vitoria is still struggling both in ACB and Euroleague, and the Spanish/Senegalese prospect is not finding space in the rotation, with 5 minutes of average in ACB and several DNP (1 point and 1 rebound of average). For his development and improvements, he shall find a team granting him consistent space and opportunities.

Under the Radar

Guillermo Hernangomez (’94, 6-10, C, Spain, Seville)

For a team struggling both financially and technically (currently Seville is in the last position of ACB with only 3 victories), Guillermo (Willy) Hernangomez is shining, elevating his status as a legit NBA prospect. Hernangomez is playing consistent minutes on the court, averaging 10 points and 6 rebounds per game (with a season high of 29 pts and 13 rebounds against Barcelona). He grew up in Real Madrid, being part of all Spanish youth teams of ’93-’94 generation. He’s not extremely athletic nor mobile, but he’s tough and strong, with soft hands and a complete post repertoire. His performances during this season, combined with his skills and size make him a realistic candidate for a late second round pick.

Mouhammadou Jaiteh (’94, 6-10, C, France, Nanterre)

After being named the MVP of French second division, Jaiteh struggled facing a higher level of competition last season, playing on a Euroleague team built around veterans and USA players. After a fruitful and busy summer (Eurocamp, U20 European championships), the French prospect is finding more space in new Donnadieu’s (Nanterre head coach) offensive system, with more touches and responsibilities. Even if he’s still not effective in pick and roll situations, he’s showing an intriguing 17 foot jump shot, often used in pick and pop situations. Currently he’s averaging 11.1 pts and 6 rebounds in French ProA, for a team fighting for the first spots of the league (he had a season high of 20 pts and 7 rebounds against Le Havre), and has confirmed that he’ll declare for next NBA draft.

Namdev
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Hot Mario Hezonja

Also, Hezonja just scored 22 in loss against Real Madrid (maybe the best team in Europe).

alliehaze25
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