FIBA U19 World Cup Primer: All You Need to Know About D1 Players Participating

By Kevin Sweeney

If you are anything like me, the 135 days until the college basketball season (it’s not like I’m counting down or anything) is just too long to wait. I am constantly looking for chances to watch current and the next wave of college basketball stars in action. With the FIBA Under-19 World Cup set to begin Saturday, July 1, we get the opportunity to do just that. The most talented young basketball players in the world from 16 different countries convene in Cairo, Egypt for a 9-day tournament. So, here’s all you need to know about this event from a college basketball perspective.

The Teams

Angola

Current/committed D1 players: None

Other potential collegiate players of note:

  • Silvio de Sousa (2018 4-star at IMG Academy)
  • Rifen Miguel (2018, mid-major offers)

The Scoop:

Angola is growing as a basketball power at a rapid pace, with more and more players from the African nation beginning to get D1 looks. While this team is weakened by not having Maryland signee Bruno Fernandes for this event, look out for Angolan players to begin coming through the D1 ranks in the coming years.

Argentina

Current/committed D1 players: None

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

The country that produced NBA players such as Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, and Pablo Prigioni, Argentina is no stranger to success on the basketball court. Ranked 7th in the world, this Argentinian team should be very competitive at this event, fielding a team made up of players almost entirely from professional rosters.

Canada

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Amidou Bamba (Rising sophomore at CCU)
  • Nate Darling (Rising sophomore at UAB)
  • Danilo Djuricic (Harvard signee)
  • Abu Kigab (Oregon signee)
  • Anthony Longpre (St. Joseph’s signee)
  • Prince Oduro (Siena signee)
  • Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State signee)

Other players of note: 

  • Emanuel Miller (2019 prospect with offers from St. Bonaventure and Oklahoma)
  • RJ Barrett (Top player in 2019 class per ESPN, plays at Montverde Academy)

The Scoop:

Other than the USA team, Canada has the most D1 talent of any team at this event. From high-major newcomers like Kigab and Wigginton to a likely 2020 lottery pick in Barrett (or 2019 if he reclassifies), to a slew of guys ready to contribute at the mid-major level, this team is loaded even with some top players choosing to skip the event.

Egypt

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Omar El Sheikh (Fairfield signee)

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

The hosts of this event, Egypt brings an experienced team from its time playing last summer at the U18 African Championship. Now, El Sheikh, an athletic wing who played at The Knox School this season and will head to Fairfield in the fall, joins the fray. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Egyptians make some noise in their home country.

France

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Killian Tillie (Rising sophomore at Gonzaga)

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

Another international basketball power, France will look to Tillie and a host of current international players to carry the load. One of the tallest teams in the tournament with an average height of 6-7, the French might be one of the few teams that can match up size-wise with the Americans in this event.

Germany

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Oscar Da Silva (Stanford signee)

Other players of note: 

  • Richard Freudenberg (Played 1 season at St. John’s before pursuing pro career)

The Scoop:

The vast majority of this team is made up of players who play professionally in Germany with the exception of Da Silva, who will join Stanford’s talented roster this coming season. With many players returning from last year’s semifinal run in the U18 European Championships, these players will be hungry to make another run in this year’s tournament.

Iran

Current/committed D1 players: None

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

From a D1 fan’s perspective, this Iran team isn’t very interesting. To my knowledge, none of the players on the roster are at all likely to play college basketball. One of the lower-ranked teams in the tournament, I’m not expecting a deep run from this Iran squad.

Italy

Current/committed D1 players: 

  • Alessandro Lever (Grand Canyon signee)

NOTE: Lever’s status for the tournament is in doubt due to an ankle injury.

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

Lever is the most interesting player for the American college hoops fan on this Italian team, as the talented forward could help Grand Canyon to their first-ever NCAA Tournament this coming season. The other players mostly play professionally in Italy. This team will likely provide the biggest test of the group stage for the USA squad.

Japan

Current/committed D1 players: 

  • Avi Schafer (Georgia Tech commit, walk-on?)
  • Rui Hachimura (Rising sophomore at Gonzaga)

Other players of note:

  • Taiga Kagitomi (2018 prospect at St. Thomas More prep)

The Scoop:

The Japanese squad is very undersized, with an average height of just 6-2. The intrigue here is Hachimura, a guy expected to play a big role on a reloading Gonzaga team this season. Zags fans will certainly be watching closely to see if Hachimura and Tillie are the next international players to star in Spokane.

Korea

Current/committed D1 players: None

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

Korea is improving as a basketball-playing country, but there isn’t much intrigue from an American perspective other than the opportunity to potentially see a guy who one day could be the first Korean to ever make the NBA.

Lithuania

Current/committed D1 players: None

Other players of note: 

  • Donatas Kupsas (Multiple D1 offers for 2018 class, plays at Long Island Lutheran)

The Scoop:

Ranked 2nd in the world, Lithuania should be one of the top teams in the tournament. The small nation of under 3 million has become a strong basketball nation. I had hoped to see Lithuanian native and Northwestern redshirt freshman Rapolas Ivanauskas playing for this squad, but it appears he won’t be participating in the event. Still, watch out for this team to make noise this coming week and a half.

Mali

Current/committed D1 players: None

Other players of note: 

  • Blaise Keita (2019 prospect playing for MOKAN and Sunrise Christian Academy)

The Scoop:

Ranked 30th in the world, I don’t expect much from Mali in this event. Like Angola, it is growing as a basketball-playing nation, and these events are excellent to chart the progress.

New Zealand

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Quinn Clinton (St. Mary’s commit 2018)
  • Tobias Cameron (Abilene Christian signee)
  • Isaac Letoa (Dartmouth signee)
  • Angus McWilliam (TCU commit 2018)
  • Sam Waardenburg (Miami signee)
  • Tai Wynyard (Rising sophomore at Kentucky)

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

New Zealand is one of the more interesting teams in this event with their glut of D1 players (3rd only to Canada and the USA). Wynyard has yet to earn much playing time at Kentucky, but is one of the most talented players in the tournament. Other future power conference players in Waardenburg and McWilliam make this team dangerous.

Puerto Rico

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Leandro Allende (Rising sophomore at Citadel)
  • Jorge Pacheco (Rising sophomore at Liberty)
  • Brandon Davis (UCSB signee)
  • Jesus Cruz (Fairfield signee)

Other players of note: None

The Scoop:

A rare team in this event with multiple players who have played significant minutes at the D1 level, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be slept on in this event. They won’t have enough talent to seriously challenge the USA, but a semifinal run wouldn’t surprise me.

Spain

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Joshua Tomaic (redshirt freshman at Maryland)

Other players of note:

  • Eric Vila (Undecided Texas A&M transfer)

The Scoop:

Spain is arguably the most successful basketball nation outside of the United States in the world. Players such as the Gasol brothers have donned the Spanish jersey in international competition before. This team features a boatload of overseas talent and a player in Tomaic who is raw but very talented. A contender for sure in Egypt.

United States

Current/committed D1 players:

  • Payton Pritchard (rising sophomore at Oregon)
  • Carsen Edwards (rising sophomore at Purdue)
  • Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky signee)
  • Josh Okogie (rising sophomore at Georgia Tech)
  • Kevin Huerter (rising sophomore at Maryland)
  • Austin Wiley (rising sophomore at Auburn)
  • PJ Washington (Kentucky signee)
  • Brandon McCoy (UNLV signee)

Other players of note: 

  • Immanuel Quickley (2018 5-star prospect)
  • Cameron Reddish (2018 5-star prospect)
  • Louis King (2018 5-star prospect)
  • Romeo Langford (2018 5-star prospect)

The Scoop:

This USA team is far and away the most talented team in the tournament. There are guys who didn’t even get CONSIDERED for this team that would be top players on opposing teams. If they are upset, it will be a complete stunner. Still, I’m excited to watch guys like Wiley, Huerter, and Pritchard, who are potential breakout guys in college basketball.

8 Non-Americans I Can’t Wait to Watch

I’m pretty familiar with all the players playing for the USA team. However, this tournament provides the opportunity to see guys who could make an impact on the college basketball landscape this season who most have never heard of.

  1. Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State, Canada): Expectations are very high for Wigginton, Steve Prohm’s prized guard recruit at Iowa State. Wigginton must play extremely well this season for the Cyclones if ISU wants to reach its 7th straight NCAA Tournament. The talented guard should star in Cairo this coming week in a prelude of things to come in Ames this winter.
  2. Killian Tillie (Gonzaga, France): Like Wigginton at Iowa State, Tillie will have to play well for his Gonzaga team to make up for the losses of Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski. Tillie impressed in limited minutes for the Bulldogs this season, but this event will provide a chance for Zags fans to see him play significant minutes in meaningful games.
  3. Angus McWilliam (TCU commit 2018, New Zealand): The only 2018 kid to make this list, McWilliam is a talented big man who will head to Fort Worth in 2018. Meanwhile, he’s a key piece on this NZL team looking to make a deep run at this World Cup. Horned Frog fans hope that McWilliams winds up as successful as Jamie Dixon’s last New Zealand big man, Steven Adams.
  4. Jorge Pacheco (Liberty, Puerto Rico): Pacheco had a very solid freshman season at Liberty, averaging 8.6 ppg with a 2.31 assist-to-turnover ratio. Now, the rising sophomore gets a chance to play against some of the world’s best as he looks to take his game to the next level for a Liberty team that should contend in the Big South next season.
  5. Prince Oduro (Siena, Canada): A talented recruit who got high-major looks after signing with Jimmy Patsos and the Saints, Oduro might start at center for this talented Canadian squad. One of the early favorites for MAAC Freshman of the Year, Oduro will be a key for Siena as they hope to stay near the top of the MAAC despite losing 4 senior starters.
  6. Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga, Japan): The star of this Japan team, Hachimura will get to show off his talents on the national stage in what could be a prelude to things to come in Spokane. The talented wing could play a big role on a reloading Gonzaga club this season.
  7. Abu Kigab (Oregon, Canada): Between transfers, the NBA Draft, and graduation, Oregon’s roster will be filled with new faces this season. One of those faces is Kigab, the highly-touted wing who could see immediate action with the Ducks. Look for him to play a big role for this Canadian team in Cairo.
  8. Alessandro Lever (Grand Canyon, Italy): A skilled forward who had high-major interest before signing with the Lopes, Lever could contribute right away in Phoenix. For now though, he is tasked with helping Italy try for a deep run in the FIBA World Cup.

NOTE: Lever’s status for the event is in doubt with an ankle injury.

 

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