The stairs wound up to the roof at The Sports Club/LA as some of NYC’s elite took advantage of 2008’s nicest day thus far by getting their tans on. The stairs then wound back down a floor to the court where 16 wide-eyed 16 year-olds (say it 5 times fast) were getting their first taste of an American basketball practice. The young internationals engaged in fun to watch drills involving tennis balls–one tossing it back and forth while sliding and another practicing defensive footwork (“fast feet!”) around the moving, yellowish-green fuzzies–before breaking into groups and running dummy offenses. A camera crew busily followed them everywhere.
Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but not until he was pointed out did I recognize Enes Kanter, one of the Turkish bigs that helped Turkey defeat the United States in heartbreaking fashion at the Albert Schweitzer International Basketball tournament. If he progresses at his current rate, Kanter could very well be a lottery pick. How did Kanter and the rest land in NYC for the first time? It’s pretty interesting. From the April 14th Jordan Brand press release:
Thirteen of the players were selected through the Jordan Brand International tour which was held from February 23 through March 2 at regional sites in Vilnius, Lithuania, Rome, Italy, and Athens, Greece. These camps featured 96 of the top 15-16 year old players from all over Europe. The European players will be joined in New York by two players from Africa and one from Australia.
As it was explained, this means that the players who most exemplified the combination of work ethic and talent that defined Michael Jordan are getting their first taste of basketball and culture in the United States.
Joan Creus -PG- Spain
Evaldas Aniulis -PG- Lithuania
Edgaras Ulanovas -Wing- Lithuania
Tomer Bar Even -G- Israel
Miguel Cervera -SG – Spain
Perica Bobic -PG/SG- Serbia
Baye Moussa Keita -PF- Senegal
Enes Kanter -PF- Turkey
Head Coach: Herman Harried, Lake Clifton High School (Baltimore, MD)
Vytenis Cizauskas -PG- Lithuania
Hugh Greenwood -PG- Australia
Fabio Mian -SG- Italy
Petar Lambic -G- Serbia
Joan Tomas -SG- Spain
Amaury Gorgermans -PF- Belgium
Jonas Valanciunas -PF- Lithuania
Ethasor Raphael A. -PF/C- Nigeria
Head Coach: Raphael Chillious, Former Coach of South kent School (South Kent, CT)
Three years from now, do you want to be the guy that saw the next big thing during his first game on NBA soil, or do you want to tell your boys you read about him on a blog? The triple header starts Saturday at 4pm with the international game. Be there.