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|Dong Yu was a physical post presence for China.|
TOULOUSE, France -- As the viability of many of the European pro leagues becomes more and more a mystery, the option of coming to the United States on a basketball scholarship is becoming a more prominent thought in many non-American player's minds. Some of the top international players in the FIBA U17 World Championships have pro contracts primed for them. Others will have offers looming. With that in mind we used the tournament to assess which players have the potential to play at the Division I level in the U.S.
Because school systems vary from country to country this tip sheet is organized by team rather than graduating class. The players birth years are noted as a gauge of when the players may be able to come overseas as most 1993 birthdays should be 2011 targets if their transcripts make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse.
|Wing prospect Gretel Tippett was Australia's leading scorer.|
The next big Aussie sensation is 6-foot-4 wing prospect Gretel Tippett. The comparisons to Lauren Jackson are not entirely fair, nor are they too far off. She has fantastic athleticism and a solid build, and with her height and length, a pro career is waiting for her. She can create from the mid-post or slash in transition. She led a stout Australian team in scoring with 18 points per game, including a 34-point outburst against Japan. Teammates Tayla Roberts and Sara Blicavs are not far behind in terms of future impact but there is no questioning who all the buzz is about for the Aussies.
This 5-7 point guard has all the tools to be a successful BCS conference point guard. She has quickness, speed, vision, scoring ability and, most of all, swagger. She is a leader on the court, playing with strength that her size would not suggest. While lacking the size of a Ticha Penicheiro, she has that way about her when she penetrates the lane and dishes out dimes to her teammates. The word at FIBA was that the Declercq Stortbeton Waregem club team player will be offered a pro contract in Europe but considering some Division I college offers as well. Sources at FIBA noted Iowa State as a potential leader if she does decide to traverse the Atlantic.Harriet Bende, 1994, Kinshassa, Congo:
The Congo-born forward has a ton of potential and upside. Being a year younger than most of the players in the tournament is just another reason to get excited about Bende. She plays her club ball with Mondeville in France. Her game is that of an athletic forward prospect. She has long pivots and doesn't mind contact in the post. Defensively she isn't afraid of contact either, using her body to bump the opposition and hold her spot. Her stats may not have be that of the other top players in the event but she has a bright future as her game matures.Emma Meesseman, 1993, Leper, Belgium:
|Nirra Fields led all scorers at the FIBA U17 World Championships for the Canadian cadet team.|
The 6-3 forward prospect embodies the European post prospect with mobility, touch, finesse and versatility. She isn't the most physical interior player but can get out in transition and when she gets early position she knows how to convert. Her toughest games were against the more physical teams like Australia , China and France. She averaged 14.4 points and 9.6 rebounds and was a great complement to Vanloo providing a nice inside-out, two-man game. Her length and mobility allowed her to block 20 shots in eight games. As a long forward prospect she could do really well in the American game but as a true 5-player it isn't likely to be as smooth of a transition.
Get used to the name Meng Li. The FIBA U17 World Championships Most Valuable Player should be back for China in 2012, again playing at the U17 age group. The 6-1, 187-pound wing can score in bunches. Her 22-point effort in the semifinal, which included a first half shooting six of eight from 3-point range, sealed the MVP award for her. She was one of the few players to really go off against the Americans, getting her awkward shot off despite defenders hanging on her. The release isn't pure but is at a high point and with her height, it is enough. She has a strong build and can play with contact. Physically her limitation is speed, which is best described as adequate. Keep an eye on this rising prospect.Hongyan Cui, 1994, Heilongjiang, China:
Cui is a physical combo guard that definitely plays through contact. She has a creative way about her with the ball. She can change directions well and creates separation as well as anyone on her team. She has an American style of play. At 5-9 she could play either guard position but is best suited for the point. If she kept her foot on the gas pedal she could definitely help a lot of schools.Liwei Yang, 1995, Guang Dong, China:
Another youngster who played at a high level for the Chinese, Yang has a great feel for her offensive game. At 5-9 she has a thinner build than many of her teammates but she has a shifty quickness that allows her to create space. She has a go-to move in her stepback jumper, which when she is in rhythm is money. She also has 3-point range, though it is a set shot. Another player that everyone should keep an eye on in 2012.Dong Yu, 1993, Guang Xi:
|Ekaterina Fedornekova of Russia has the tools to compete in the US at the Division I level as a combo guard.|
In the post, the 6-5 Yu was a force. Lacking speed to keep up in fast games, she was China's go-to player in the half court. Her size and strength allowed her to wear out a lot of post defenders and when the lane got too congested she could step out to the short corner and was automatic from that range shooting. She led the Chinese in scoring and rebounding with 16.2 points and 9.1 boards per game. Style of play will be important but she has some tools to play at a high level.
The 6-4 post player led the French in scoring and she did it with a physical brand of post play. She has a lot of post skills that translate to the American game. She isn't afraid of contact in the lane and covers a lot of distance on her pivots and on her first step when she slashes across the lane. She could finish a little more consistently and rebound better given her physical gifts but she is still a handful in the lane.Olivia Epoupa, 1994, Paris, France: The 5-4 point guard was a fire-cracker off the bench for a French team that rallied back from early losses to reach the gold medal game. Epoupa was a big part of that. Her quickness and toughness made up for any perceived lack of size. She can really apply ball pressure and offensively she can collapse a defense and create scoring for her teammates. Where her game differs from fellow 5-4 point guard teammate Esther Niamke is she is a bigger threat to score the ball herself which makes her an ideal candidate for the college game. Of course coaches will need to get over her height, but if they can they will have one of the fastest point guards in their conference.
|Ozge Kavurmacioglu averaged 17 points per game in the FIBA World Championship tournament.|