Recruiting & Scouting International talent

Over the last decade more and more talent from Europe has sought out the opportunity to make use their talent to seek out an education in the U.S.

Colleges have been sending over coaches to recruit and scout talent and figure out what they can utilize for their programs. With the latest crop of talent including Nicola Jokic and Luca Doncic, we now see more and more locally (European based) talent being driven into the NBA, so is the college scene becoming redundant in getting the prospective Euroballers to the next level?

This piece is in part about the two parts; the processing and the mentality the recruits/prospects go through to make it to the NBA and along  the way what happens with the remaining majority (65% – 70%) of hopefuls are left to figure out how to carve out an option for themselves, may that be in European basketball or alternative options.

The factuals

  • Any scout, executive or person involved in basketball in the U.S. no longer has the right to point out that they can NOT see Euroball prospects or that they might be not visible enough. It is flat out foolish. With the development of social media, the numerous highlights these days kids, their parents and respective clubs post online sorting out what is good and bad might be a challenge but a good one to have nonetheless.
  • This past season we saw 108 international players in the NBA a peak figure so far and a majority of them have been trained in European style playing and have had to adapt to the NBA game at a very fast pace.
  • The NCAA has been the main talent pool that European players initially have tested since the early 70s, nowadays the NCAA and the various division progams hold countless international scholarship students. This past season Div.1 programs had +260 European scholarship athletes in men’s basketball programs across the U.S.
  • Serbia, France, Lithuania, Great Britain and the Netherlands have all +13 players in D-1 schools

The process that takes its rigors on the talent

Many of the prospects where ever they come from usually have the dream down and the game on the court is never the main issue. The crème of the crop that make the push to stay away from being home sick.

A lot of prospects under estimate how strong a support system they have while they are surrounded by their family and friends and how tough it is or can get when they are studying or having to experience playing abroad for the first time or even through college.

I would be remissed if I did not point this out but, while the prep schools, colleges and systems formed do their best to support the incoming international talent. It’s in part among the facts that a part of the talent usually faulters.

The above is one aspect of how the rigors take its affect on the talent.

Another point that is usually very visible is how prospects are practially seen by scouts. Prospects begin to emerge as potential talent in the eyes of their clubs around the U112 age category and usually by the time they are solid role players or started on their respective U15 teams are visible by all type of scouts. Its all but natural to expect a bit of a level of composure from U15 players but it has been such a competitive environment that we forget at the end of the day that these are still “teenagers” they are going through a number of emotions as well as having to handle taking their dreams of playing basketball to another level. Unlike in the U.S. where the pressure of playing ball can be kicked into gear early, may it be due to family or other circumstances. Within the realm of international basketball seeking an education through basketball has only become an obtainable solution through the prep-school or NCAA route, especially increasingly so since the beginning of the 2010s. However still a majority of basketball potential goes through the trial and error phase of trying to attain their dream of going professional early on.

Again with the increase in interest since the beginning of the 2010s, countless NCAA Showcase camps/events have popped up allowing for college coaches to internationally see what is available. While at first many Div. 1 schools rarely considered the option to go to the talent, with what has come out of the Basketball Without Boarders run by the NBA, the Adidas Next Generation Tournament running in parallel to the Euroleague Final four each year.

A lot of international talent, either that make it to national team selections, potential that is so good that to overlook them is crazy can get funneled down and cut at the last point where they are compared to equally talented players.

At the end of the day, its good to keep in mind that to reach an NBA level slot you need to work hard to be seen. Every year putting the NBA Draft aside there are maybe if lucky, about 10 jobs that a player can potentially fill. If for the fact seeking a U.S. college education is your dream, okay your chances are a bit better but getting a “full-ride” has become that much more harder due to the increase of talent that has been popping up all across the globe (yet its attainable with the right approach). Finally, a majortiy of talent that either begins out their journey of TRYING to make it to the NBA might have to adjust and seek out becoming a professional basketball player in their respective continent before trying to push for the end result.

Keep in mind the talent such as Luca Doncic, Alex Abrines, Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefalosha, Nickolas Batum, Tony Parker, Porzingis, Schroder, Gobert all begain respective professional careers before jumping to the NBA.

To those players that are looking to live their dream, hard work is a must, but keeping yourself mentally in check and staying not just physically strong but mentally challanged as well is a major part of the key to succeeding. Many players underestimate how tough it can be to go through the process of being rejected while they might kill their opponents on the court but some scout or evaluator somewhere just does not see their game improving. There are always ways to go, so picking and determining what is best for you is a matter that needs added attention always. Get help, there is nothing wrong in asking for assistance.

For scouts and evaluators, I would only suggest the following, bare in mind that comparing players can be too much of killer instinct on your end. Every talent has a unique quality to have uncovered. Instead of comparing X, Y, Z talent to A,B,C current player try to give an objective insight into a talent’s potential. The less the comparison the more the opportunity you’d give to those potential athletes to make a run towards what you can do with them.