Who are the Top International Names Heading to the 2019 Draft
By now we’re all familiar with Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Ja Morant, the top prospects playing in the NCAA, but who are the top current international prospects? Who is the next Luka Doncic? Next Greek Freak? Next Kristaps Porzingis? Here are some international names to keep an eye on.
At the top of the list is Sekou Doumboya, who according to most mock drafts will likely be in the top 10 in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft. Only 18, Doumbouya fits the mold of a modern NBA power forward. He is incredibly long at 6’ 9, has a fluid outside shot and is capable of guarding multiple positions on the court defensively. This season, he has spent most of his time with the Limoges B team, and won the best young player award in the French second division.
Team: Buducnost Podgorica (EuroLeague)
Of all of the prospects that will be mentioned today, Goga Bitadze is the most established player, which is quite the feat considering he is still only 19. He has played consistent minutes in the Euroleague (highest level in Europe) for Buducnost Podgorica and is averaging 19 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks and 61% from the field. He is your prototypical stretch-five, capable of stretching the floor but also protecting the rim. Bitadze could have actually been drafted last season but chose to withdraw last minute to play one more year in Europe and hone is skills; a wise decision. It is unclear whether he will enter this year’s draft, but if he does, Bitadze will likely be a top 20 pick.
Team: Liutuvos Rytas (EuroCup)
In the modern day NBA where it is all about the 3, Sirvydis seems to have a bright future. He is a knockdown shooter who would make a quick transition from European basketball to the NBA. 18 years old and 6’ 8, he has fantastic size for a 2 guard and is an above average defender. He has a quick release and is averaging 2.5 threes a game, shooting at 43.5%. At the prestigious 2018 Adidas Next Generation Tournament, Sirvydis led his team to the title and was named MVP. Expect Jonas Valanciunas and Domantis Sabonis to get some company in the NBA, as the next Lithuanian star should be drafted in the next few years.
Team: Partizan (EuroCup)
Marko Pecarski is a stretch-4, capable of playing inside-out with a good feel for the team. He led Serbia to the FIBA U18 European Championship last year, averaging 24.6 points and 11 rebounds a game, en route to being named MVP of the tournament. This season he has mostly featured or Partizan’s Junior Team, averaging 30 points a game on 54% shooting from the field. When he does decide to enter the draft, he will likely be a first round pick.
Team: Petrol Olimpija (Basketball Champions League)
Samanic is a player whose stock has slightly dropped in the last year. He struggled to make an impact at Barcelona last season and eventually chose to sign a multi-year deal with Petrol Olimpija. Here, he has also struggled to get consistent minutes, only averaging 4.6 points per game. Still, at 6’ 11, the 19-year old has great size and looks closest to Kristaps Porzingis. He can play multiple positions, facilitate on offense from the block and is a good passer, however his defense will need to improve in order for him to make the leap to the NBA. 2019 mock drafts have him going early second round this year.