Basketball Without Borders provides a showcase for high-level international prospects. With a mix of players living in their home country and others playing in the US, it’s an opportunity to see how they stack up against each other. Here’s a few players who played well.
*Moussa Cisse was the camp’s top prospect but he was left off the evaluation since he only played the first day of camp.
1. Bennedict Mathurin 6’6 180 PG/SG – Canada 2002 (Arizona)
Mathurin had a terrific three days. He’s an explosive athlete and attacked the rim against any defense, including an and-one dunk in the half-court to seal the championship. He shot well off the dribble, using pull-ups or letting it fly in the face of the defense. He got to the rim off the dribble and didn’t need triple threat, he has good strength and kept his dribble alive after the defense trying to bump him off his path. Mathurin definitely helped himself at Borders and took it at many highly touted prospects to lead his team to win the championship.
2. Jean Montero 6’2 172 PG – Dominican Republic 2003
Montero was one of the youngest prospects in the camp and showed out as a scorer. He handles the ball very well and wasn’t fazed with a defender pressuring him; changing directions, penetrating to the rim, and stopping on a dime to pull up for a jump shot or step back. His shot mechanics and results were the best of the camp, showing midrange and 3PT shooting. He’s quick but not real explosive, finishing below the rim. He runs the pick and roll well and had good timing on his execution. Defensively, he had active hands on the ball but picked up fouls reaching in.
3. Sadraque Nganga 6’10 198 SF/PF – Angola 2003
Nganga has great mobility and coordination. He utilized his size to back down smaller defenders, flashing some ability to score in the post and step out and shoot a little, although both areas are in need of development. He made some nice passes and would start the offense after grabbing rebounds, showing a solid understanding as a pick and roll ball handler. Defensively, he’s long and athletic with versatile ability to switch but has to improve positioning on that end of the floor.
4. Ariel Hukporti 7’0 250 C – Germany 2002
Camp MVP, Ariel Hukporti (pictured) had a great showing, especially on the final day of camp. He’s strong and a bit more physically developed than some of the other participants. He’s an athletic finisher, displaying it in both the half-court as well as running the floor to finish in transition. He shot well in drills and made a fair amount of threes in the games as well. He was a difficult matchup with his size, athleticism, and skills; drawing numerous fouls and has a solid free throw stroke to capitalize. He has a nice hook; both a jump hook in the post and a running hook on the move. He also has good touch around the basket in general. He does need work with his right hand as he was very left hand dominant. Defensively, although it won’t be his strength, he did show some ability to defend the perimeter in space but he’s not real quick laterally. However, he defended well in the post. Hukporti showed out and outplayed some 5-stars, showing why he was MVP.
5. Adama Sanogo 6’9 245 PF/C – Mali 2002
Sanogo has made great improvement since I’ve seen him last year. He’s able to step out and shoot from 3PT range, and his misses didn’t look bad either. He’s strong but has soft hands and swift footwork for his size, he even pulled out a eurostep in transition on one play. Athletically, he gets up well to finish, rebound, and protect the paint. He has good hands and was always ready for the ball, successfully executing the pick and roll with teammate Jean Montero. Sanogo consistently played hard and helped his stock over the weekend.
Josh Primo 6’6 190 SG – Canada 2002
Primo’s a confident scorer. He hit a lot of threes but his shot selection can use some work. He settled for a few contested step back 3PTers that weren’t within the flow of the offense. He had some strong drives and finished above the rim occasionally. Overall, Primo had a solid showing.
Yannick Kraag 6’7 178 SF – Netherlands 2002
Kraag has good length and defensive potential, he picked the ball handler on occasions but also picked up some bad reach in fouls. Throughout the camp, he spent time guarding both the perimeter and big men. Offensively, he shows a nice stroke from the foul line but wasn’t consistently knocking down jumpers in the games. Although he’s not real strong, he didn’t shy away from contact but he lost the ball following some bumps at times. He can also improve his post finishing. His length and athleticism allowed him to finish in the paint, as he had a handful of dunks he got up quickly for, not needing to gather on his way to the rim. While Kraag has some things to improve upon, he was still effective on the floor.
Olivier Maxence Prosper 6’8 200 SF – Canada 2002 (Clemson)
Prosper had an impressive weekend with his high-level athleticism and motor. He has a good balance of playing hard but not forcing his impact and letting it come to him. He was also active on the defensive end, jumping passes to end with a fast break jam. In the half-court, he drove to the rim and showed reliability as a jump shooter.
Azuolas Tubelis 6’9 227 SF – Lithuania 2002
Tubelis showed high-level run and jump ability, throwing down big dunks off his one-foot leap. He was much more effective in transition than the half-court. He showed some ability to adjust to the defense on the drive and flashed a floater but most attacks were in a straight line. Although he didn’t have a lot of variety to his scoring or show much perimeter offense, Tubelis opened some eyes throwing it down over the defense on multiple occasions.
Charles Bediako 6’10 210 C – Canada 2002
Bediako’s size, strength, and physical style of play made him one of the most impactful players in the paint. He was a beast on the boards and dunked everything in the paint. He scored in the low post and has some potential to face up, driving out of the high post and solid form as a free throw shooter. He still has some work to do with his ball skills as he doesn’t always look comfortable; dribbling high and struggles passing on the move, as he has to come to a complete stop before giving it up.
Juhann Begarin 6’4 192 PG/SG – France 2002
Begarin’s best showing was on the final day of camp. He was best in transition, where the majority of his points came from. Although he over-dribbled at times, he was effective in isolation, taking his man off the dribble, and was strong taking it to the rim. He has a good change of pace with the ball but he forced passes and had a few unforced turnovers by simply losing the ball while gathering for a finisher. His shot was hit and miss over the weekend as there’s still room for improvement as a perimeter shooter.
Juan Fernandez 6’10 213 PF – Argentina 2002
Fernandez may not have the same long-term potential as some of the others but he’s skilled at his size. Smooth with the ball, hitting up and under layups, and covered a lot of ground on the strides of his effective eurostep. His passing was a plus as well, distributing out of drives and no looks on the move. His athleticism isn’t among the elite but his creativity and ability to use either hand was impressive.
Moussa Diabate 6’9 209 PF – France 2002
Diabate had a good weekend. While well-coordinated and fluid facing up, his jump shot is still a work in progress as he tends to push it, and results were all over the place, airballing an open look on at least an occasion. He can play all over the floor and was solid defensively. Where he stood out the most was as an offensive rebounder, converting second chance opportunities on a consistent basis. He also looked more explosive than when I had seen him in the past, driving with aggression and finishing above the rim on some drives.
Alex Tchikou 6’11 205 SF/PF – France 2002
Tchikou provides 5-star talent and tools but he has a way to go utilizing it into consistent production. He’s been up and down the previous three times I’ve seen him this year. He flashes ability to shoot, put the ball down and drive, and good athleticism but doesn’t always play to his strengths. He seems to think he’s a guard and hangs out on the perimeter too often, I’m not sure that’s going to change as his career progresses.
Jerry Ngopot 6’8 224 PF – Central Africa Rep 2002
Ngopot is an athlete with raw skills at the moment, as he needs work in some areas. His footwork is raw and he was out of control at times. His shot was all over the place but he did make the defense pay occasionally. He has a shaky handle; looking like he’s about to lose the ball when dribbling and mishandled some passes as well. With that said, he played hard and threw down numerous dunks throughout the camp.
Kai Sotto 7’2 210 C – Philippines 2002
Sotto was the tallest participant at 7’2. There’s been a lot of buzz around him lately and it’s easy to see why. He’s skilled offensively, with a strong face up game and shooting ability. He’s also very accurate around the rim and the lefty doesn’t hesitate to go to his right. He’s very mobile and gets good lift around the basket, trying to dunk and block everything, but he lacks speed and he’s not great stepping out to defend the perimeter, struggling to keep Charles Bediako in front of him on a string of consecutive plays at one point. Sotto is alert, passes well for a big man, and has a good basketball IQ to go along with his size and skillset.