Despite the bad news handed down by NBA commissioner David Stern, BallinEurope’s man in the U.K., Sam Chadwick, is optimistic enough to suppose that the big league will be playing ball in 2011-12 – or at least optimistic enough to submit a draft profile on Jan Vesely. How good will the Czech be once NBA ball tips off again? Read on to find out!

Name: Jan Vesely
Country: Czech Republic
Club: Partizan Belgrade
Position: SF/PF
Height: 6’11” (211 cm)
Age: 21 (born April 1990)

The continued arguments about which 2011 European NBA draft pick has the most potential will be answered within five years: And within that time Jan Vesely could have become Rookie of the Year, an all-star, a dunk contest participant … you name it, he could do it – that’s how much I believe in this guy, and that’s how much potential Jan has.

Not many players would turn down the contract of a top-20 draft pick to return to Europe for a year, work on their game, and come back to be selected only a few positions higher, but that’s just what Vesely did. He knew he wasn’t ready so he made himself better with a work ethic that puts guys like Daniel Orton – and all those guys who were drafted last year, played rare minutes and collected junk stats rather than returning to college for improvement – to shame,.

An ESPN Insider article that I read a few weeks back stated that “[Jonas] Valaciunas might have the most upside of any draft pick in this year’s class. Who doesn’t need a scoring machine who can rebound, run and defend? He’s also a high-motor player.

“Put it this way: If he was coming out of college after a year at UNC, he’d have gone No. 1 overall.”

You can make the same argument for Jan: If he had gone to Duke or any other NCAA school for a year, he too would be a no. 1 overall pick – but back in 2010, after just one year of college ball.

If you read my profile of Jan prior to the 2010 NBA draft, then you know some things about this guy already: He’s known as the European Blake Griffin, he is 6’11” and plays small forward, and he has been compared to Andrei Kirilenko. Vesely can score from outside and in, and lastly he is a tremendous energy guy … and that’s not all he can do, as there’s that work ethic, that desire to improve himself. When you look at potential, Vesely has bucket loads with the attitude to match.

With the Washington Wizards, alongside John Wall, the highlights should be limitless and the way Vesely jumps will give Wall a player to throw ridiculous lobs to anywhere near the basket. Teamed with Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Rashard Lewis, Chris Singleton, Yi Jianlian and potentially Nick Young (if the Wizards decide to resign him), this Wizards squad has a good mix of both young talent and veteran leadership.

The list of Europeans with limitless potential is at an all-time high this year; with the likes of Vesely, Valaciunas, Enes Kanter and Nikola Mirotic, it’s now a race to see who will become the next best European Player in the NBA and who will be passed the torch from stars like Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki.

Sam Chadwick is the co-head coach of the Solent Kestrels U14 basketball team, along with dividing the remainder of his time among an assistant quantity surveyor job, university studies and sportswriting. You can follow him on Twitter at @chadwick9.

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