Nikola Jovic (2003, 6-10, F, Mega Soccerbet)
The International player that everyone was most excited to see play from this year’s class, Nikola Jovic has shown enough flashes (albeit lacking consistency) thus far to justify all the hype and attention that he has received over the last 12 months. He has had a solid season with Mega Soccerbet in ABA Liga, a League that has produced many NBA players. In the mold of a Nemanja Bjelica, Jovic fits the profile of the new-era combo forward. He has good size and length (7-1 wingspan), he can shoot the 3 in Spot Up situations, he can put the ball on the floor and – more importantly – he can pass the ball and be used as a secondary creator in Pick and Roll situations. Jovic has his flaws. He should bulk up to be able to punish mismatches in the post and absorb contact better at the next level. His perimeter defense can be shoddy due to average lateral quickness. But he is talented and he already plays major minutes for a team that has produced more NBA players than any other club the last couple of years. He is clearly one of the top internationals for 2022 to keep an eye on.
Hugo Besson (2001, 6-3, G, New Zealand Breakers)
Hugo Besson made a major decision the summer when he signed with New Zealand Breakers after a season in France’s second division (Pro-B). It turns out it was the best decision for him and his stock, as he is currently considered one of top handful of prospects in this year’s International Draft class. The French guard found a perfect fit in the NBL. Playing mostly as a shooting guard, he has shown ability to create his own shot and make pull-up 3’s while he is effective playing off the ball and at the same time is comfortable in Pick and Rolls, looking like he could be as a secondary creator. On the other hand though, is should be noted that his assist/turnover ratio is really bad (1 assist for every two turnovers) which shows that still hasn’t found the necessary balance between being a scorer and a facilitator and he is just 6-3 and an average athlete, which could cost him at the next level on defense. With that said, his versatility as a scorer is definitely his calling card and the thing that makes him so intriguing.
Ismael Kamagate (2001, 6-11, C, Paris Basketball)
It was 2019 when almost anyone who watched Ismael Kamagate thought that he was two years away from being ready. Well, it’s been two years since then and Kamagate really looks ready now, acquiring a big role for a team in French’s 1st division after spending 2 seasons in French’s 2nd division. Size, length and athleticism stand out with Kamagate. But this season he has proved that he can actually fully utilize his body. The French big sets good screens and rolls to the basket, he is an excellent cutter and wants to dunk everything, while his 69% on free throws suggests that he could expand his range at some point beyond the paint. His offensive game sure needs polishing and he should develop a Post Up game. On the defensive end, he still remains one of the best rim protectors of his generation in Europe, but he still needs some work on covering the Pick and Roll if he is not used in Drop or Flat coverages, although he looks like he could improve in that regard. Overall, Kamagate looks like he has figured some things out and this could be good enough to get drafted.
Matteo Spagnolo (2003, 6-4, G, Vanoli Cremona)
Considered one of the most talented players of his generation in Europe, forcing powerhouse Real Madrid to bring him to Spain at 16 years old, Spagnolo has a had very good season in the competitive Italian League (he is on loan from Real to Cremona), improving his stock. Spagnolo’s ability to score off the dribble is the one thing that stands out. His feel for the game is quite good, he has good size for a combo guard and has shown flashes as a facilitator. His decision making isn’t completely there yet and his athletic limitations could cause him some problems on the next level. But he is just 18 years old and is already playing quality minutes in a good league, giving him time to grow and learn from his mistakes. If he decides to declare, he could be an interesting draft and stash prospect.
Ibou Badji (2002, 7-1, C, Lleida)
It’s difficult to remember a prospect checking more boxes than Ibou Dianko Badji regarding athleticism and size. Blessed with an ultra athletic 7-1 body and a ridiculous 7-8 wingspan, Badji forces everybody to just… stare on him whenever he hits the floor. If only he was half way there basketball-wise. Badji is raw and that is obvious even in Spanish 2nd division where he is playing this season. He has to work on his basketball I.Q. His Post Up game needs a lot of work. But he is big. He can play the Pick and Roll, he is a point guard’s dream as a lob catcher and every opponent has to think twice before attacking the basket when Badji is protecting the rim. He even shows some touch when he is composed and gets some time. The center from Senegal is one of the most intriguing prospects right now. If he manages to put things together he could be special.
Tristan Vukcevic (2003, 6-11, F/C, Real Madrid)
Tristan Vukcevic is long past the day when he was considered an under the radar prospect. His transfer to Real Madrid and some great performances last season surely have something to do with it. And despite his ups and downs this season, he is a player that draws a lot of attention and rightfully so. Vukcevic possesses talent and potential. He is just an average athlete, but he is long, and has a high basketball I.Q. He has stretch-big potential, he knows the law of verticality when defending the rim (which is not that simple for a teenager) and – more importantly – he is fearless. He has long way to go with his body, and could have problems defending the Pick and Roll (or quick bigs) and is at least a year away before being able to contribute at the NBA level. But he has many things to like. It’s not certain that he will declare this season – it’s just his first year of eligibility – but if he does he could be a really interesting Draft and Stash candidate. Except of course If a team really likes him and wants him to take the leap immediately.
Gabriele Procida (2002, 6-8, G/F, Fortitudo Bologna)
After a really intriguing showing last season, which gave him second round consideration, Gabriele Procida is having an OK season. His numbers won’t blow anyone away, but the Italian prospect has an interesting skill set. Procida has the prototypical 3–and–D profile. He has great size but is just an average athlete. He is versatile on defense, he is a threat in Spot Up situations and has an acceptable basketball I.Q. He should look to improve with the ball in his hands and work on his flaws, but he could become a solid role player.
Malcolm Cazalon (2001, 6-6, G/F, Mega Soccerbet)
After an underwhelming showing in the last two years, Malcom Cazalon is back on track this season, which is an encouraging sign. The French prospect is having a solid season, reminding everyone the reason he was considered an NBA prospect since he was 16 years old. Cazalon is a lefty wing with good size and NBA athleticism. He is a menace in the open floor, a great slasher and a threat from the the 3-point line, who has shown some promise as a facilitator. His decision making is still an issue though and the same applies with his consistency and ability to help his team when the tempo of the game slows down. Playing for a team that has a priority to showcase players, Cazalon is looking comfortable. But he still has to convince the scouts that he can improve his inconsistency issues.
Gui Santos (2002, 6-6, G/F, Minas)
Gui Santos surprised a lot of people last season with his performances, feeling comfortable enough to declare for the NBA Draft, before pulling his name out at the last moment. He sure made an impression and he hopes that the hype will continue to follow him this season, since he has showed improvement in some areas. Gui Santos is full of energy. An all around wing with two-way potential. He has great size (7 foot wingspan), above average athleticism, versatility on both ends of the floor and has an underdog mentality that intrigues the scouts. He is still inconsistent as a shooter though and should learn how to work into the system.
Nikos Rogkavopoulos (2001, 6-8, G/F, Promitheas)
Being known for years as a good scorer in FIBA’s junior level tournaments, Nikos Rogkavopoulos made a step backwards last season. This season though is an other story, since he changed teams and has a different role in Promitheas. Rogkavopoulos has 3-level scorer potential. He has great feel for the game, he moves great without the ball, he attacks the offensive boards in an uncanny way for a wing and he has improved on defense. He is still inconsistent though – even within a game – he is just an average athlete and still needs work as a facilitator, since his team is not asking him to create a lot. Still, if he makes a step forward he could garner some attention.
Ousmane Dieng (2003, G/F, New Zealand Breakers)
The transition from French’s 3rd League to NBL surely wasn’t a smooth one for the French prospect. The level of physicality and speed of the NBL League is not something that every teenager can handle and Ousmane Dieng has realized that the hard way, struggling in about every aspect of the game since the beginning of the season, still searching for his role. Dieng has a lot to like. He is long, athletic and has all the necessary tools to become an all around point forward in the future, since he has been used a playmaker in the past. He is excellent in transition. His shooting reamains a question mark, but his shooting release is smooth and his free throw percentage suggests that he could become a good shooter. He has problems against physical opponents and the physicality of NBL League isn’t doing him any favors. He might be a year away before beginning to showcase his full potential, since he is still trying to figure some things out. His ceiling though remains as high as anyone’s in this year’s International Draft class. Unfortunately, the early hype has been tempered by an obvious lack of readiness from a physical standpoint.
Yannick Nzosa (2003, 7-0, C, Unicaja)
Being on the NBA radar the last couple of years, Yannick Nzosa was hoping to be able to showcase his skills this season, the first of his eligibility. There was a lot of talk about him as a lottery pick because of his perceived potential. Considering all the hype around him – whether justified or not – he has been disappointing thus far. Nzosa is big, long, athletic, fast,and bouncy. He is a strong dunker, he has shown promise as a screener in a Pick and Roll situations and has the profile of a player that could become a great defender. But he remains quite raw and unpolished, especially offensively. His feel for the game is low and he lacks fundamentals. There remains intrigue due to his physical profile, but he is far from ready.
Khalifa Diop (2002, 6-11, C, Gran Canaria)
Being in almost every scout’s notebook the last couple of years, Khalifa Diop has shown some glimpses of development this season, playing in the competitive Spanish League, earning good minutes for a solid team. Khalifa has an NBA body, with wide shoulders and great length, and is a good, mobile athlete. He is a solid screener and a quick roller in Pick and Roll situations, especially, when he slips the screen and has a basic – but a little mechanical – Post Up game, where he mostly turns on his left shoulder and has potential as a defender. On the other hand, he still needs work on his fundamentals, his feel for the game needs work, his shooting range is pretty limited (and he is a bad free throw shooter), he doesn’t have soft hands and he can lose focus on defense. Khalifa isn’t ready yet, but he has potential and has shown some adaptability. He is a prospect to have an eye on.
Roko Prkacin (2002, 6-9, F, Cibona)
After pulling his name out of last year’s draft on the last moment, Roko Prkacin was hoping to have his breakout season this year. So far things haven’t gone well for him and – if that wasn’t enough – he had an injury that made things even worse. Prkacin is still intriguing. He is a physical combo forward, with sneaky athleticism, strong as an ox who can do just about everything on the court at a good level, but nothing at great level. He can put the ball on the floor, he loves to play through contact and is not afraid to attack the basket, he can punish mismatches in the post with his footwork and is a very good passer. But it’s his shooting that holds him back, and also his decision making and the fact that he might be a tweener in a bad way. The reality though in his case is quite simple: If he manages to improve as a shooter, then he has all the tools to become a really interesting player.
Ariel Hukporti (2002, 7-1, C, Melbourne)
As many young players in recent past, Ariel Hukporti decided to take the NBL route to showcase himself to NBA scouts. Thus far his numbers don’t really jump off the page and he is playing average at best as a member of a good team with experienced veterans like former NBAer, Matthew Dellavedova. Hukporti is a lefty center. A good athlete, big, strong, long, with a nice body, who can play the Pick and Roll at a good level, has some basic moves in the Post (can turn either shoulder) and is a rim protector. He certainly has potential, but he still needs to work on his game in about every aspect. If he manages to make a leap this season, he could be in the mix in the second round.
Carlos Alocen (2000, 6-5, G, Real Madrid)
This was suppose to be a bounce back season for Carlos Alocen, who was supposed to be the next great Spanish point guard a few years ago. It turns out though that things may have actually gotten worse for him, with injuries, COVID-19 and a deep Real Madrid roster limiting his opportunities, and looking like the perfect storm. Alocen has still some fans. Point guards with his size who love to run in the open floor, can play the Pick and Roll and are solid defenders always have intrigue. But following two disappointing seasons in a row and looking stagnant in key areas (shooting) has hurt his stock and making things difficult for him. At the same time, as has been the case in the past, it just takes one team to truly believe in someone’s potential. And despite another disappointing season so far, Alocen still looks like a player with NBA potential.