A number of future international NBA draft picks are expected at the fifth annual Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp in Charlotte, a joint venture of the NBA and FIBA held during All-Star Weekend.
Sixty-three boys and girls, ranging in age from 16 to 18 and from 31 countries, will get measured, undergo athletic testing, practice, scrimmage and conduct drills under the watchful eyes of representatives of all 30 NBA teams. Participants will also attend daily seminars for life skills and attend the Rising Stars, dunk contest, 3-point shootout and the All-Star Game.
Despite being relatively new, this camp, which aims to pull together some of the most talented non-American prospects in the world, has quickly ascended to the top of NBA executives’ calendars as a must-scout event. It’s become somewhat of a “rite of passage” for internationals vying to join the NBA, something that is reflected in the number of players drafted since its inception in 2015.
Seven former participants from the initial camps in 2015 and 2016 have gone on to be lottery picks, including Deandre Ayton, Jamal Murray, Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The likes of R.J. Barrett, Rui Hachimura and Sekou Doumbouya are projected to join them as 2019 NBA draft lottery picks from the 2017 and 2018 BWB Global camps.
This year’s camp will be headlined by Deni Avdija (Israel), Amar Sylla (Senegal), Killian Hayes (France), Khalifa Diop (Senegal), Matej Rudan (Croatia) and others.
Avdija and Sylla are both projected lottery picks in the 2020 draft, with strong resumes at the FIBA national team level and with their respective club teams on the European circuit.
The 6-foot-9, 18-year-old Avdija is already seeing minutes playing professionally with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel and the Euroleague. He led their junior team to the finals of the ANGT Munich a few weeks ago with impressive averages of 24 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals. He also helped the Israeli national team win the U20 European Championship last summer, being named to the all-tournament squad despite playing up three years on the competition as a then-17-year-old. While the size of a power forward, he often plays point guard, showing deep shooting range, excellent ball-handling ability and high-level court vision and basketball IQ.
Seventeen-year-old Sylla, a Real Madrid product, helped defeat Avdija’s team to win the ANGT Munich, posting 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in just 20 minutes per game. He established himself as a top-shelf long-term prospect at the inaugural NBA Global Camp in Treviso last June, showing elite potential defensively at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, guarding all over the floor thanks to his impressive mobility, intensity and instincts. His skill level is still a work in progress, but he shows intriguing flashes of potential as a shooter and finisher.
Seventeen-year-old Killian Hayes will be returning to the BWB after an up-and-down showing at last year’s camp in Los Angeles. The 6-foot-5, impressively built, Florida-born combo guard has been seeing quite a bit of playing time in the French first division with Cholet, averaging seven points and three assists in 19 minutes of action. He was named to the FIBA U17 World Championship all-tournament team in July after leading his French national team to the championship game, where they were defeated by the United States. Currently projected as the No. 15 prospect in the ESPN 2020 mock draft, Hayes still has something to prove to NBA scouts, as he’s struggled at times to create his own shot against better athletes and has been a streaky shooter for much of his career.
A number of U.S.-based international players who are on the NCAA track will also be participating at the camp, including five star Canadian Addison Patterson, Puerto Rican Julian Strawther, Dutch forward Tristan Enaruna, Nigerian big man Cliff Omoruyi and Gonzaga-bound Russian Pavel Zakharov.
The camp also will give NBA scouts a chance to evaluate 10 players from the various NBA Academies scattered around the globe. Three of the participants are currently at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, Australia; four are at the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City; two are at the NBA Academy Africa in Senegal; and one is at the NBA Academy in India. The headliner of this group is Malian big man Oumar Ballo, who averaged 21 points and 17 rebounds at the FIBA U17 World Championship this past summer, despite playing up as a 15-year-old. Ballo has missed much of the season with an ankle injury and may not be at 100 percent for this event.
Quite a few players on the list have never been seen by the majority of the NBA, though, meaning there are bound to be some surprises who emerge over the course of the weekend.
A host of NBA players and coaches will help run the camp and share their vast experience in professional basketball, including 2019 NBA All-Stars Nikola Jokic and Nikola Vucevic. Rising stars participants Deandre Ayton and Bogdan Bogdanovic will also meet with the prospects and help with on-court instruction alongside coaching staff members including Festus Ezeli, Adonal Foyle, Jennifer Azzi, Allison Feaster, Ashley Battle, Taj McWilliams, Astou N’Diaye, Andrea Stinson, Dutch Gaitley, Nate Mitchell, Dutch Gaitley, John Bryant, Michael Ray Richardson and Mark Madsen.
Portions of the camp will be livestreamed on the NBA’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/NBA and FIBA’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/FIBA.