• Welcome back, Hoop Ballers, to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we will be doing our yearly Mock Draft special for the NBA Draft that takes place in New York on Thursday night.

    As I mentioned before, the 2019 international class lacks a true franchise talent but offers a pool of talent that projects to be deeper compared to previous years. And in an overall underwhelming draft class, this might play to the strength of many international guys who might hear their name called earlier than anticipated.

    Here is everything you need to know about this year’s international class:

    Top Tier: The Locks

    Sekou Doumbouya (Limoges, LBN Pro A France and the EuroCup), 18 years old, SF/PF, 6’9” 220lbs, France/Guinea

    A raw, athletic, skilled combo forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, Doumbouya won’t turn 19 until December 23rd, and he is expected to be the youngest player to make his rookie debut since Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013 (turned 19 on December 6th). His play in France the last couple years has been erratic and it’s really hard to project his ceiling at this point as he could either develop into a Pascal Siakam jack of all trades or end up as a bigger version of Trevor Ariza. He has been able to increase his stock in the last few weeks as NBA teams seem to really like what they see in him. The Bulls (No. 7), the Hawks (No. 8, 10) or the Wizards (No. 9) are likely to make him a lottery pick.

    Projection: Top-10 pick

    Goga Bitadze (Mega Bemax and Buducnost, Adriatic League and Euroleague), 20 years old, C, 6’11”, 250 lbs, Republic of Georgia

    The Georgian center with a reported 7’3” wingspan and 9’2” standing reach has NBA scouts and executives torn on whether his game can translate at the NBA level. Bitazde is extremely fluid and mobile for his size and he proved that he can stretch the floor and protect the rim but teams will likely be able to pick him apart in the pick-and-roll and he lacks the strength to go against bigger bodies. Bitadze only worked out for the Spurs, the Hawks, the Pistons, the Hornets and the Celtics and he might have a promise from one of those teams somewhere in the middle of the first round.

    Projection: Anywhere in the first round, up to No. 12

    Second Tier: Likely to be Picked

    Luka Samanic (Union Olimpija, Adriatic League and the EuroCup), 19 years old, PF/C, 6’10” 215 lbs, Croatia

    No other international prospect has helped himself more in the last month or so other than the Croatian forward. Samanic has all the physical tools to be successful in the modern NBA game thanks to his size, fluid shooting stroke, play-making ability and athleticism. He was a bit of an underachiever over the past few seasons but the blame has to go to Spanish powerhouse Barcelona who refuses to play their prospects if they have any chances to get to the NBA (see Rodions Kurucs). Samanic intends to come to the NBA immediately as his game looks to be a better fit for the NBA and teams like his potential to develop into a stretch forward.

    Projection: End of the first round but he could easily fall into the early to mid-second round

    Adam Mokoka (Mega Bemax, Adriatic League) 20 years old, PG/SG, 6’5” 213 lbs, France

    The LNB’s Pro A Best Young Player in 2018, he tested the waters last summer and after his impressive performance in Treviso’s Eurocamp he was expected to go into the second round but eventually withdrew his name in hopes of benefiting from another year playing in Europe. Mokoka is one of the best athletes of this class and so far he has impressed NBA teams with his defensive ability, reminding teams of a bigger, far more athletic Patrick Beverley.

    Projection: Mid second round but he could go higher

    Marcos “Didi” Louzada Silva, (Sesi Franca, NBB of Brazil), 20 years old, SG/SF, 6’6” 198 lbs, Brazil

    Didi has been a nice surprise recently due to his strong frame and mature feel to his game. He had a very efficient season in Brazil where he averaged 10.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.7 steals on 50 percent from the field, 42.5 percent from behind the arc and 73 percent from the line in just 20 minutes and 43 games. The Brazilian guard impressed scouts at the Portland Nike Hoops Summit and has solidified his stock in recent workouts.

    Projection: Anywhere in the second round

    The College Kids

    Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, 21 years old, PF, 6’9” 235 lbs, Japan         

    Hachimura is one of the top international prospects after averaging 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds playing for one of the top programs in the country. A versatile forward who likes to attack the rim, he needs to develop his outside shot while questions about his size and his position at the NBA level might hurt his draft stock.

    Projection: Mid to late first round pick but he could easily end up in a free fall

    Bruno Fernando, Maryland, 20 years old, PF/C, 6’10” 240lbs, Angola

    Fernando was one of the most improved players in college basketball from his freshman to sophomore year. He is an outstanding athlete with high motor that can make solid plays on both ends of the floor. His size, length and speed make him a dangerous threat running the floor in transition while with his mobility and 7’3.25” wingspan, he can switch out on guards. He projects as an excellent pick-and-roll defender, an ideal fit defensively in today’s small ball NBA but for some strange reason he’s being slept on unconscionably by the draft media. Fernando’s rankings have varied quite a bit as there’s a lot uncertainty outside of the top three picks in this year’s draft, so there’s really no telling where he will fall.

    Projection: Late first round or early second round

    Sagaba Konate, West Virginia, 22 years old, PF, 6’8”, 250 lbs, Mali     

    Konate did not receive an NBA Combine invite after appearing in only eight games for the Mountaineers this season (due to knee issues) and averaging 13.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks while shooting 43.5 percent from the floor. If he were a few inches taller, Konate would be considered a potential first round prospect but has tremendous strength and impressive leaping ability and should be a defensive force at the NBA level. When on the court, Konate was one of college basketball’s premier interior defenders. In 2017-18, his 116 blocked shots were second-most in the country while he was named to the All-Big 12 third team, Big 12 All-Defensive team and the Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America team.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan, 20 years old, 6’7” 215 lbs, Lithuania/Canada

    During his lone year in Ann Arbor Brazdeikis earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and honorable mention All-American votes after averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Iggy lined up as a four at Michigan, but will play the wing in the NBA. He is a smart, skilled forward that can shoot and score the basketball and even though he lacks elite physical tools, he could thrive as a role player in the NBA.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest, 20 years old, SF/PF, 6’8 215 lbs, France

    The young Frenchman has the physical tools to project as a future NBA player, but he is currently more of an athlete rather than a basketball player. Playing in the ACC he got a lot of experience but unless he develops a more refined game, it will be difficult for him to be anything beyond a rebounding small forward or an undersized power forward. For him, it’s all about a team investing in his development.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Christ Koumadje, Florida St., 22 years old, C, 7’4” 265 lbs, Chad

    Having not picked up a basketball until high school, Koumadje has a unique skill-set for his size. At 7’4” he can run the floor and protect the rim but questions about his motor and the lack of experience have hurt his stock even though he could be a hidden gem.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Chris Silva, South Carolina, 22 years old, F/C, 6’9” 225 lbs, Gabon

    Silva has not generated much draft buzz especially since he is a senior who only had a strong NCAA tournament back in 2017 but every NBA team can use an athletic shot blocker who can defend multiple spots and score around the rim. His recent workouts have helped him emerge as a potential second round pick as teams seem to appreciate his maturity.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Draft-and-Stash Candidates

    Deividas Sirvydis (Lietuvas Rytas, LKL of Lithuania and Eurocup), 18 years old, SG/SF, 6’9” 195lbs, Lithuania

    One of the youngest players of the class, Sirvydis looks like the ideal draft-and-stash candidate. The Lithuanian forward is a knockdown lefty shooter with high basketball IQ and the ability to make quick decisions with the ball. He is far from a complete offensive player but he possesses very good speed and size that enable him to create separation from his opponents. Playing on one of the top teams in Lithuania, he has been able to earn a spot in the rotation, something unusual for kids his age in Europe.

    Projection: Mid to late second round but he could end up undrafted

    Joshua Obiesie (s.Oliver Würzburg, German BBL and Europe Cup), G, 6’6” 190 lbs, Germany

    The German native decided to stay in the draft after joining Wurzburg in December and playing in just 20 games this season where he made a good impression, especially at the EuroCup. He is an athletic, lefty combo guard who has split time at point guard, shooting guard and even small forward but struggled badly at the Nike Hoops Summit and is far from a finished product. Teams seem to like his versatility and he projects as another strong draft-and-stash candidate.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Yovel Zoosman (Maccabi Tel Aviv – Ligat HaAl of Israel and Euroleague), 20 years old, SG/SF, 6’6” 198 lbs, Israel

    Zoosman put himself firmly on the NBA radar last summer by leading the Israeli National Team to the gold medal at the U-20 European Championship while finishing as the MVP of the Tournament. He is a long and hard-working kid with a 7-foot-wingspan and an all-around game, able to defend four positions on the floor. Unlike most European teams who fail to give playing time to their youngsters, Zoosman has been given the opportunity to play major minutes in his domestic league while gaining meaningful experience in the EuroLeague. Think of a more athletic version of Omri Casspi.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Karim Jallow, (Ludwigsburg, BBL League, Germany and EuroCup), 22 years old, SF, 6’7” 206 lbs, Germany

    Defensive versatility and 3-and-D potential are the main reasons the German forward has been scouted pretty heavily over the last couple of years and he is a consistent shot away from been considered a solid second-round prospect. Jallow is auto-eligible and for now is projected to be a second rounder or to go undrafted, depending on how much teams like him.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Dark Horses

    Alen Smailagic, Santa Cruz Warriors, 18 years old, PF, 6’10 215, Serbia

    Smailagic is an 18-year-old kid from Serbia who opted for the unconventional route, coming to US and getting selected as the 4th overall by the South Bay Lakers in last year’s G-League draft. He then got traded to the Santa Cruz Warriors, becoming the youngest player to ever sign a G-League deal. The Warriors opted to keep him away from attention, limiting his minutes and he is a complete unknown to NBA circles. He projects as a defensive big but needs to probably spend a couple more years in the G-League  learning the NBA game and developing his weak frame.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Yago Dos Santos (Paulistano, NBB of Brazil), 20 years old, PG, 5’ 10” 175 lbs, Brazil

    Dos Santos is a smart, crafty, undersized point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball. He resembles Raul Neto and J.J. Barea and could easily earn himself a backup role in the NBA.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Matur Maker (KK Zlatorog – Liga Nova KBM Slovenia) 6’10” 210 lbs PF

    Thon Maker’s little brother skipped college in order to play professionally in Slovenia where he averaged

    12.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 50 percent from the field in 26 minutes. The Hornets are rumored to be one of the teams interested in him.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Vanja Marinkovic (KK Partizan, Adriatic league and EuroCup), 21 years old, SG/SF, 6’5” 195 lbs, Serbia

    Marinkovic is clearly one of the best shooters of his generation and the most productive draft-eligible player in Europe this year, but he still struggles to create his own shot and is a below average defender. His combination of shooting, size and improved playmaking ability might earn him a look in the second part of this summer’s draft but his upside is limited and he can only be seen as a specialist. This is his last season of draft eligibility and a couple good games at the ABA playoffs have put him on the radar once again.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    Matas Jogela (BC Dzūkija LKL of Lithuania and Eurocup), 21 years old, SG/SF, 6’7” 190lbs, Lithuania

    Playing in in Lithuania’s second division he has been able to post solid scoring and rebounding numbers and he projects as a 3-and-D combo forward. His lack of experience in higher levels is the major question mark but one of the teams that he worked out with was the Celtics.

    Projection: Second round to undrafted

    David Okeke, (Auxilium Pallacanestro Torino, Lega Basket Serie A of Italy), 21 years old, SF, 6’8” 205 lbs, Nigeria/Italy

    Okeke is a late bloomer and a skilled combo forward that could develop into a scoring specialist in the NBA. He withdrew his name last year hoping to capitalize on a strong year playing in Europe but he didn’t really impress and it would be a surprise to see him get drafted tonight.

    Projection: Likely undrafted

    William McDowell-White (Brose Bamberg, BBL of Germany), 21 years old, PG, 6’5” 185 lbs, Australia

    McDowell-White attended Fresno State University, alongside his older brother Darryl in 2016, but he would ultimately be ruled academically ineligible and returned to play for the Sydney Kings before agreeing to a four-year deal with Brose Bamberg, of the Basketball Bundesliga in 2017. He struggled to play with the first team and was assigned to their farm squad, playing in the second division where he easily won the ProA Young Player of the Year Award in 2018. In February of 2019 he left Brose Bamberg and returned home to Australia in order to prepare for the 2019 NBA Draft.

    Projection: Likely undrafted

    Laurynas Birutis (Zalgiris Kaunas, LKL Lithuania and Euroleague), 21 years old, C, 7’1” 214 lbs, Lithuania

    Birutis is a tall, mobile big man who offers upside due to his size. He was named MVP of the regular season in 2018 but after a positive start this season he underwent knee surgery and didn’t really have the chance to show what he can do at the highest level this season.

    Projection: Likely undrafted

    Thank you for reading our International Mock Draft special and please make sure you check Bruski’s Breakdown for the 2019 NBA Draft as well as Hoop Ball’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft.

    Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.

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