The wait is over. Victor Wembanyama is finally eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft, making the 2023 International Draft class one of the most interesting of all time. There are some intriguing prospects in this class. It might not be as deep as the 2022 class – which had 11 international players get selected – but it certainly has some really interesting players, starting at the Top!
1. Victor Wembanyama (2004, 7-3, F/C, Metropolitans 92)
It’s been almost 3 years since the world discovered Victor Wembanyama. A French phenom, a basketball paradox. A prospect like no other. A skinny 7-3 giant with a 7-9 wingspan who moves like a wing on offense and operates like a big on defense.
You will have to go back to Luka Doncic to find such an anticipated international prospect. A player that everyone will be watching every step of the way. Doncic was much more accomplished at the same age and was on his way to earning MVP honors in EuroLeague. Wembanyama chose a different route, agreeing with Metropolitans 92 to ensure that he will have playing time in the French League and in EuroCup. He is probably going to have the chance to play to his strengths, showcasing his mobility, ability to handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter and protect the basket like a big.
Vixtor, as you may recall, faced off against recent #2 pick Chet Holmgren in 2021 at the U19 World Championships in Riga, Latvia and came out of the individual battle on top.
Phrases like “Unicorn”, “generational talent” and “future franchise player” have already been used on him. After 3 years, Wembanyama will just have to prove that he can take all this pressure onto his (skinny) shoulders and thrive. And everyone will be watching.
2. Rayan Rupert (2004, 6-6, G, New Zealand Breakers)
After a positive showing in ANGT, Ryan Rupert decided to follow in the footsteps of fellow Frenchmen Ousmane Dieng and Hugo Besson, signing with New Zealand Breakers. There is a pretty obvious pattern here and the French guard is hoping that will have similar success with it.
Rupert is intriguing. A guard who is…. all arms and legs (an insane 7-3 wingspan) with a solid feel for the game, who can shoot off the dribble at an effective level and is a versatile defender. Rupert has two-way potential, but has a lot to work left on his game, starting with his shooting and decision making.
3. Cidy Cissoko (2004, 6-7, G/F, G League Ignite)
Blessed with a sturdy body, length and athleticism, Cidy Cissoko has impressed with his combination of playmaking ability and defensive potential. The French wing is far from a finished project, but it is easy to see the potential he possesses.
Playing for Baskonia’s second team, Cissoko showed that he can be a playmaking wing, who can play some Pick and Roll and a versatile defender, who can guard 1-4 in the future. His shooting remains a question mark and the same applies for his decision making. But he has the potential to become an interesting player. he will make the jump over to the US and attempt to develop his game with the G League ignite in 2022-23.
4. Ousmane Ndiaye (2004, 6-11, F/C, Bonn)
Coming from Germany’s 3rd division, where he averaged almost a double-double with 2 blocks per game at the age of 17, Ousmane Ndiaye is the definition of a diamond in the rough. The forward from Senegali is long, with good mobility and coordination for his size and… raw. But he is intriguing.
Ndiaye has shown flashes of a future NBA player, showing a lot of positives and negatives. He is great in the open court – but has problems finishing in traffic. Has nice shooting mechanics – but he is an inconsistent shooter. Has shown flashes of good court vision – but turnover prone. He can protect the rim and has good defensive instincts- but he loses focus.
It’s more than obvious that Ndiaye is years away from being ready. He has to work on his game. But he is one of the most intriguing prospects of his generation.
5. James Nnaji (2004, 6-10, C, Barcelona)
Strong like an ox with an NBA ready body, James Nnaji has earned some fans around scout circles, having already earned some playing time in Barcelona. Standing at 6-10 with a ridiculous 7-7 wingspan and good level of athleticism, the Nigerian center has all the tools to become an interesting prospect. A rim runner, with a basic Post Up game who can protect the rim.
There are some hurdles in Nnaji’s way. He is still raw and his decision making needs work. What’s more concerning though is whether he will actually have the chance to demonstrate his skill set and improve, since he will have to fight for playing time on a European powerhouse like Barcelona, a team that – especially the last couple of years – is seemingly trying to… hide its prospects instead of showcasing them.
Keep an eye on:
Nikola Djurisic (2004, 6-8, G/F, Mega Mozzart) will have a lot of eyes on him. He is a talented wing with the ability to score the ball, who needs work on his decision making.
Roko Prkacin (2002, 6-9, F, Ciboba Zagreb) knows that this season is probably his last chance to convince the scouts that he remains an NBA player. After a rough couple of years, the Croatian wing has to prove that he still is a jack of all trades offensive player. Improving his shooting and ability to defend on the perimeter is the key for him.
Malcolm Cazalon (2001, 6-6, G/F, Mega Mozzart) is automatically eligible. He is a lefty wing with NBA athleticism who can score the ball, who has shown some promise as a shooter and a facilitator. His shooting form and ability is his real intrigue, and he will need to put up efficient numbers after falling short the past couple seasons.
Ariel Hukporti (2002, 7-1, C, Melbourne) will try to raise his stock this season. He is a lefty center with great size and above average athleticism and mobility, who can play some Pick and Roll and defend at a good level.
Tristan Vukcevic (2003, 6-11, F/C, Partizan) is hoping to turn things around this season in Partizan, as in the past he has shown potential as a Stretch Big.
Raynan Dos Santos (2004, 6-4, G, Sesi Franca) is a lefty guard who plays with a fearless approach and loves to attack the basket, while has some versatility on defense.
Mathew Strazel (2002, 6-0, G, ASVEL) has lost some fanfare the last couple of years, but he is hoping to regain some ground next season. He is an undersized but quick point guard, who can score in bunches and play the Pick and Roll at a high level
Lefteris Mantzoukas (2003, 6-10, F, Panathinaikos) is one of the most productive players of his generation in FIBA’s junior level. A combo forward with an NBA body, who can knock down shots from the perimeter and has a basic Post Up game, who might be a tweener in a bad way on defense and it’s still not sure whether he will have enough playing time to convince the scouts that he has improved the last couple of years.
Juan Nunez (2004, 6-4, G, Real Madrid) is a lefty point guard. A typical Spanish guard with quick legs and a high basketball I.Q, who can play the Pick and Roll and an OK shooter with good lateral quickness, who will probably struggle for time in a stacked backcourt with Real Madrid.