BWB Europe

FIBA - BWB players ready for draft

NEW YORK (Basketball Without Borders) - The Basketball Without Borders instructional camps run jointly by FIBA and the NBA around the world are windows into the future for anyone wanting to identify the sport's rising stars.

Whether the camps are staged in South America, Africa, Asia or Europe - rest assured that some of the youngsters attending will be big names in the years ahead.

A couple of teenagers from the 2003 European camp staged at La Ghirada in Treviso, Italy, look set to be selected by clubs in the annual NBA Draft in New York.

Centres Johan Petro of France and Martynas Andriuskevicius of Lithuania were 17 years old when they rubbed shoulders with leading international players and coaches in 2003 in Treviso.

Both are raw talents who played sparingly for their clubs last season - Petro for Pau Orthez and Andriuskevicius for Zalgiris Kaunas - but both are seven-footers with loads of potential and have decided to put their names forward.

What the scouts have liked about Andriuskevicius this season is that not only is he huge at 7ft 2in, making him a threat to block shots, but he has good coordination and gets up and down the court well for a seven-footer. Additionally,  not surprising since he comes from a land known for its excellent perimeter players, Andriuskevicius has a sweet shooting stroke.

Andriuskevicius needs to improve his strength. He averaged more than nine minutes a game in the Euroleague this season, and played 9.6mpg in the Lithuanian top flight.

As for the 7ft Petro, he played more than 13 minutes a game in the Euroleague but strength is also an issue with him. A great leaper, Petro has the possibility of becoming a shot-blocker.

If both players are drafted, they will then have to make a decision about when to cross the Atlantic. Being recognised and then chosen by an NBA team is only half the battle. Earning a place on the roster is much more difficult to achieve.

Jeff Taylor, PA International