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NBA draft has international flavor

  • June 22, 2011 - 11:14 PM

DRAFT HAS INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR

As many as seven international players could be selected in the NBA draft's first round. As many as four could be taken among the first 10 picks alone, including the Timberwolves possibly taking Turkish center Enes Kanter second overall.

You might never have heard of these names, but Wolves scouts -- including assistant GM Tony Ronzone and international scouting director Phil Philo -- have seen many of these players since they were pimply 15-year-olds:

Enes Kanter, 6-11 center, Turkey: The draft's mystery man because he enrolled at Kentucky last season but was ruled ineligible and never played. Dominated in 2010 Nike Hoops Summit high-school all-star game against current American college stars Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes with a 34-point, 13-rebound efort in only 24 minutes despite a bad back.

Jan Vesely, 6-11 small forward, Czech Republic: Running, jumping fiend who Ronzone says is rated highest on the Wolves' draft board for sheer athleticism.

Jonas Valanciunas, 7-foot center, Lithuania: Intriguing combination of size, touch and young age (19) would make him a top-four pick, but he might drop because of sticky contract buyout with his European team. After the Ricky Rubio experience, that'd make him a perfect Timberwolf, wouldn't it?

Bismack Biyombo, 6-9 power forward, Congo: Athletic defender who plays in Spain and has come from nowhere and now is something of a folk hero in this draft because of his mystery, intrigue and great name. Being touted as the next Serge Ibaka.

Donatas Montiejunas, 7-foot power forward, Lithuania: Skilled lefty who could be an mismatch nightmare, but might drop out of top 10 because he's probably not ready physically and defensively to contribute much immediately.

Others: Nikola Mirotic, 6-10 small forward, Serbia; Davis Bertans, 6-10 small forward, Latvia.

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