With a relatively underwhelming selection of top NCAA prospects at the helm of the 2011 NBA Draft, there has been a shift of attention from domestic players to the talented international field. The top nine are made up of intriguing young players who have outstanding size, length, and athleticism for their positions, but are still very young, learning the game, and maturing physically. Some are definitely more NBA ready than others, but that’s not to say a few of them might not be a studs in the league a couple years down the road. Having seen the majority of these players live against some of the best young U.S. talent in the Nike Hoop Summit and Nike Global Challenge over the past few years, we have a pretty good idea of who can excel and who may struggle.

That said, SwishScout.com presents “The Top International Men Of Mystery.”
Note: On every player, you can click their name or country to take you to a more detailed profile for an extensive scouting report and highlights on the respective prospect.
9. Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia)
6’7”, 220 lb.s
Bojan is one of the elite players from the 1989 International class, and believe it or not, is the shortest player on this list at 6’7”. He has great size to play on the wing, where he excels as a shooter knocking down the three. He’s a savvy player who knows how to get to the rack with the ball in his hands, but equally effective running off ball screen to get easy cuts at the basket. However, Bogdanovic is limited by marginal athleticism and a lack of strength. He’s predominantly a scorer/shooter type role player projecting to the league, but is a solid value pick in the second round. Think Bostjan Nachbar when he was playing for the Nets at the end of his career.
Projected: Mid-Late 2nd Round

8. Davis Bertans (Latvia)
6’10”, 210 lb.s
The epitome of a project player in the NBA, Bertans is a young gun with a sweet shooting stroke. Was less than stellar against the U.S. team in the Nike Hoop Summit last month when we saw him, with only 8 points on 2/6 shooting from 3-point land. Nonetheless, Bertans is an up and comer with unlimited shooting range and a quick release, that his size, will make him a legitimate shooting threat on the perimeter. Tends to force shots with defenders in his face and not always square up to the basket, but he’s a player with legit quickness and size for a perimeter player. Davis has a high ceiling on his game, but needs to learn how to play within the team game, get open off from rolling off setting screens on the high perimeter, and getting open without the ball in his hands. A good 2-3 years away from being an NBA contributor and would benefit from a couple more years playing pro ball over seas, but there’s no reason he can’t be a legit starter in the league eventually in the mold of Danilo Gallinari.
Projected: Late 1st-Early 2nd Round

7. Nikola Mirotic (Montenegro)
6’10”, 225 lb.s
Probably one of the more NBA ready contributors available among the foreign players in the Draft, Mirotic is a smart player who understands his role on the team executes perfectly. He’s a true perimeter player and mismatch at 6’10”, and that size allows to him to survey the court well and hit open teammates cutting to the basket, or he can pull back and launch from 3. Had a very nice overall showing in the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists playing alongside Texas’ Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. Although perhaps ready to contribute for a team right now, Mirotic presents perhaps the least upside for a player on this list due to a lack of athleticism and inability to create off the dribble. A very solid, intellectual talent that can beat you from the perimeter and with his smarts, but won’t be showing up on many highlight reels or by taking over any games by himself.
Projected: Mid-Late 1st Round

6. Lucas Nogueira (Brazil)
7’0”, 200 lb.s
Another young player who’s only 18 years of age, the Brazilian talent nicknamed Bebe is a seven-footer with great length, size and tremendous upside. Lucas makes his mark as a natural rebounder and shot blocker in the paint due to his great length and energy on the court. He was unimpressive last month in the Nike Hoop Summit, producing only 4 points, 6 rebounds, and a block on a much-anticipated game on the precipice of declaring for the Draft. However, I have seen him put up a couple great showings against the same players earlier last summer in the Nike Global Challenge, where he averaged 16 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 block and shot 63% from the field. Bebe doesn’t have great mobility, strength, toughness, or a post game yet for a player made for the paint. Indefinitely another project a few years away from being a contributor, but could be the next Samuel Dalembert when he’s ready.
Projected: Late 1st Round

5. Jan Vesely (Czech Republic)
6’11”, 240 lb.s
The Czech has gotten plenty of attention from NBA scouts the past couple years because of this crazy length and leaping ability. Vesely looks to be an outstanding hustle player and defender as a forward that should be able to guard his man on the perimeter or in the post. Jan has a solid fundamental shooting stroke that should allow him to knock down open looks from 3 and athleticism that will let him finish at the rim with authority. He’s also a tremendous rebounder because of his length, athleticism and high motor going after the boards. The knock on his game is that he is need of building muscle, becoming more of a ‘banger’ in the paint, and developing some post moves to take advantage of his size against smaller defenders. He’s an intriguing talent with a lot of upside, but I don’t see him being more than a solid role player who brings a lot of hustle, in the mold of an Andrei Kirilenko or Tyler Hansbrough, in the league.
Projected: Mid-Late Lottery

4. Bismack Biyombo (Congo)
6’9”, 240 lb.s
The very definition of ‘intrigue’ for an NBA Draft prospect, Biyombo presents immediate NBA contributions in the paint with the upside to become an excellent post player down the road. If you hadn’t heard already, he’s a 6’9” player with a freakish 7’7” wingspan that many are already comparing to Serge Ibaka. I had the privilege of witnessing his show stealing 12 point, 11 rebound, 10 block (or ‘Bismacks’, if you will) performance in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit. Bismack is an explosive leaper with an NBA body and motor that allows him to excel blocking shots and rebounding the ball. He is a physical banger that is still learning the game, but his potential is undeniable. Has virtually zero post game or shooting touch right now but those will come in time with hard work and development. The fact that a player of his caliber is only fourth on this list should tell you something about the quality of foreign prospects in the Draft this year.
Projected: Mid-Late Lottery

3. Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania)
7’0”, 220 lb.s
Does the name Andrea Bargnani ring a bell? If so, consider Donatas the next great European seven-footer who can dominate with shooting and smart play on the perimeter. He was a fueling force for the International team upset win back in the 2009 Nike Hoop Summit over a team loaded with great talent such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee, and John Henson. Motiejunas put up an impressive 21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and plenty of heart in an emotional win for the International team. Don is a virtual mismatch for any perimeter player because of his size and ability to shoot over just about anyone. Has a fairly refined overall game and can put up some nice post moves, as he has the jump hook down with either hand. The big weaknesses for a player of his unique talent are toughness, athleticism, strength and defense. He plays with a lot of emotion on the court, and while some have knocked it as a sign of immaturity, others could also be seen as fiery and competitive. Donatas should be a very good player in this league and will develop into impact starter for a team willing to take a chance on his talent.
Projected: Mid-Late Lottery

2. Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania)
6’11”, 240 lb.s
Perhaps the ultimate boom or bust pick in the 2011 Draft, Valanciunas is a player that presents intrigue as well as question marks. A player of his size, length and developing skill set could make him as good as Pau Gasol eventually, or a lack of desire and work ethic could make him the next Jason Smith. Jonas is mobile post player with extreme length and a solid developing basketball IQ, but clearly needs time to grow into his body and develop strength. He doesn’t play with much post toughness yet and clearly needs more time refining his post game. The most noticeable missing aspect from his game is a face up jumper, which is odd because of how solid his free throw stroke looks and goes in. A midrange game should come fairly natural with work in the next couple years and allow him to extend the defense. If he can learn to make a quick turn move with his back to the basket and utilize his finishing ability from skill instead of pure size advantage like he is now, he could become a weapon with his post game. Jonas makes a considerable impact rebounding the ball and changing shots in the lane on defense too. A risky pick based on rawness and projected draft position, but a very rewarding one as well that is probably poised to pan out similar to an Andris Biedrins type game.
Projected: Top Five Pick

1. Enes Kanter (Turkey)
6’11”, 260 lb.s
Although he could be considered a product of the NCAA without ever having played a game at Kentucky, Kanter is a true product of the Turkish national team and professional ranks. There is plenty of mystique and intrigue surrounding his game, and deservedly so. Watching someone dominate Jared Sullinger and Patric Young for 34 points and 13 rebounds in 24 minutes of play during the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit is a rare event, and witnessing it live only fueled the case for Kanter in my mind. Enes is an extremely skilled post player with an impressive repertoire of moves that allow him to capitalize with his back to the basket or from the face up. With his 6’11”, 260 lb.s frame, he’s a very strong rebounder who gets consistently puts himself into box out position to grab and secure the ball with his length and strength. For being only 18, he has an incredibly high basketball IQ and skill set that make his chances for success in the NBA all the better. He’s not the most mobile or athletically gifted post player available, but his talent and production at every level of play in his young career speaks for itself. With Kanter’s physical player and talent, he reminds me of Al Jefferson and could be a player that puts up 20 and 10 on a nightly basis in the league. Should get serious consideration for the top pick in June alongside Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams.
Projected: Top Five Pick
This was originally written by our partners at SwishScout.com.


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