With the NCAA Tournament coming to an end, it is about time to make an update on some of the Europeans involved in College Basketball as well as on what are the latest news in Recruiting and concerning the NBA Draft.
With the Final between UConn and Butler a day ahead, it is good to see that the German Freshman Niels Giffey is doing his job as a role player coming from the bench. After having started the season really well in Maui where he had his best scoring game so far with 14pts against Kentucky, the Berlin native sees only limited minutes at the moment but has an important role coming of the bench. Together with the other German Freshman Enosch Wolf, he can become the first German to win the NCAA National Championship since Hernik Rödl, his former coach at the ALBA Berlin Youth Teams.
Nikola Vucevic is the first European playing College basketball to have declared officially for the NBA Draft this season. He also announced that he has signed with an agent and that he will not return to USC next fall. This is an interesting information as the 1990 born Montenegrin has the option to step out of the Draft and sign for a year in Europe to become automatically eligible again next year. I would not be surprised if we will see him at the Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso in June. Vucevic can wait until the non-NCAA deadline (13th June) to opt out.
One of the few Seniors that might have a chance to get drafted this year is the Washington Husky Matthew Bryan-Amaning. For the London native, the first step will be a participation at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament that will start on Wednesday 6th April. The 2m05 tall player finished his season with 15.3ppg (54.6% FGs), 8.0rpg and 1.5bpg but he is not being listed on the main Mock Drafts on the net at the moment. However, the PIT as well as the individual workouts later may change his draft stock and he might be playing at the Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso as well. In Portsmouth, Bryan-Amaning will be in the same team than the Australian-Kazakh Anatoly Bose who had an amazing scoring season at the small school of Nicholls State. The Small Forward averaged 22.1ppg and ranks among the top scorers of the whole NCAA Division 1.
A more surprising “European” in Portsmouth might be Jon Diebler from Ohio State. The German press announced today that National Team Coach Dirk Bauermann is trying to get German passports for Diebler but also for the North Carolina Junior Tyler Zeller. We will follow this story closely as both can not play for the German National Team in Lithuania later this summer if Chris Kaman is on the roster but they might be interesting options for Bauermann’s Bayern Munich team if they do not sign with a NBA team this summer. The last European to be present in Portsmouth will be the Romanian Vlad Moldoveanu from American University. Moldoveanu had a nice season for the school from Washington as he averaged 20.4ppg and 6.4rpg. His future will most likely be in Europe next season.
During the last days, several European players have committed verbally to play NCAA Basketball next season. The University of Maine was particularly active and got a commitment directly from two players. The first one was the Finnish forward Kilian Cato while we were told today that the Israeli guard Noam Laish will also be a player for the America East Conference team next season. The Barking Abbey Basketball Academy from London will also have two additional players in the NCAA Division 1 next season. Keelan Cairns and Simeon Esprit will both join the University of Pennsylvania that came to London to recruit the British players during the last weeks. Finally, Jonathan Gilling from Denmark will play for Arizona State next season where he replaces another European prospect in the Latvian Rihards Kuksiks.
Two of the biggest names that are still on the market for the Class of 2011 are the French forward William Howard and the German guard Patrick Heckmann. As Heckmann has finished his season with TV Langen a few days ago, he will most likely be on some visits in the next days and weeks. The 1992 born player averaged this season 12.0ppg (53.5% 2FGs – 32.0% 3FGs – 81.1% FTs), 3.4rpg, 3.3apg, 1.3spg, 2.5topg in the third German League. He gets interest from lots of High Majors at the moment and it looks like Michigan and Boston College are the main names according to recent rumors. The situation is a bit different for William Howard who is averaging only 6.8ppg (48.6% 2FGs – 33.3% 3FGs – 44.4% FTs), 3.1rpg, 0.7apg, 1.1spg, 1.4topg with INSEP-Centre Fédéral in the third French division. The athletic forward is getting some interest as well and he should be close to his decision from what we have heard. However, no real big names have been mentioned so far for him but this can change in the next weeks.
A tweet by Fran Fraschilla concerning the upcoming Nike Hoop Summit had created some buzz as the ESPN Journalist told his followers that they should expect to see Przemyslaw Karnowski in Gonzaga next season. The interest of the Polish big guy to play College Basketball is known but there has not been made any decision yet on his future. Not only that Karnowksi will not play in Gonzaga, at least in 2011, but the big guy has yet to go another year in High School and is only a member of the Class of 2012. Be prepared though for some heavy recruiting on him during the upcoming U19 World Championship in Latvia where lots of High-major Colleges will be present to follow the United States National Team but also the rest of the competition.