U19 World Championships Preview
Who’s got next? That question will be answered starting this Thursday as the world’s best young basketball players take part in the FIBA Under 19 World Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia. Last time the tourney took place, in 2003, Andrew Bogut led Australia to the title. In the past, many top prospects (including Vince Carter and Pau Gasol) have used this competition as a springboard to bigger things and this year should be no different. Here are some of the top pro prospects and NCAA players taking part in this year’s edition:
Not surprisingly the States’ team is stacked with top pro prospects and NCAA talent, led by Kansas State’s incoming freshman Michael Beasley. Also expected to play key roles are Michigan State’s Raymar Morgan and Arkansas’ Patrick Beverley.
Due to various reasons, the Canuck squad is missing four of their best players. That said, they still bring a solid roster into competition, led by sharp-shooting Devoe Joseph (top 100 prospect, class of 2009). Also look for Boston University’s Scott Brittain and South Dakota State’s Kai Williams to be impact players for the team.
Guard Chen Jianghua, who appeared in this year’s Nike Hoop Summit and is considered a top international NBA prospect, is listed on China’s roster for this tournament. However, he is currently playing with the Chinese team in the NBA Vegas Summer League, so it is unknown if he will be appearing in Serbia also. To throw a further wrench into things, nbadraft.net reports that Chen is out with a serious injury.
The French have one of the tournament’s top young stars on its roster in the form of Nicolas Batum. Look for the 6’8” small forward to be a top five pick in next year’s NBA draft. The stacked French team also has pro prospects Alexis Ajinca (7’1”) and point guards Rodrique Beaubois and Antoine Diot. For NCAA fans, Utah Ute Kim Tillie is also on the roster.
The Lithuanian squad will be lead by 18-year-old point guard Zygimantas Janavicius, who plays professionally in Lithuania and is considered a NBA prospect.
Florida State point guard Josue Soto, who only appeared in 13 games for the Seminoles last season as a freshman, will help run the point for the Puerto Rican squad.
The Serbian’s have a roster stacked with NBA pro prospects, led by 7’0” Miroslav Raduljica and 7’3” giant Boban Marjanovic. 6’10” small forward Marko Keselj and 6’6” point guard Stefan Markovic are also highly touted prospects.
The always-tough Spaniards are led by 6’9” forward Victor Claver, who is one of the top young NBA prospects in Europe. Claver’s strong play in this year’s Reebok Eurocamp has him projected as a possible top 10 pick in the 2009 draft.