I love it when a plan comes together. David Hein, he of heinnews.com, FIBAEurope.com and probably 10,000 other outlets, has wrapped coverage of the just-completed FIBA U20 European Championship Men. Having returned home to Germany from the competition in Rhodes, poor David sought ideas (more of them, i mean) for another basketball column to which to set his rapacious urge to sportswrite.
I skyped him: “Since you introduced us to all these fresh new players that are moving into top professional leagues – you know, guys like Georgios Bogris – during the U20s, why don’t you write a roundup of where they’ll be in future?”
And shazam! Hours later, Mr. Hein had produced a swell column entitled, “Where U20s are heading next season.” From Bogris to Vucevic, the list of names you’ll surely be seeing next year is the following.
(heinnews) – Georgios Bogris, Greece
Of course, it was announced during the tournament that Greece center Georgios Bogris has signed a four-year deal with defending Euroleague champions Panathinaikos. Don’t expect Bogris to play much at all and who knows, maybe mid-season the Greens could send him out on loan to another club for some playing time after they see exactly what they have in him.
Zisis Sarikopoulos, Greece
The other Team Greece center is headed back to the U.S. for his first season with the Ohio State Buckeyes. After sitting out last season following his transfer from Alabama-Birmingham, Zisis Sarikopoulos heads to Columbus with three years of eligibility left. And expect him to be a big star at Ohio State – likely this season if his knee (which limited his playing time at both the U19 Worlds and U20 Euros) holds up.
Nikos Pappas, Greece
The sly Greek guard still has three seasons left on his long-term deal with Spanish club Iurbentia Bilbao. He was on loan last season with Real Madrid, and is currently waiting for Bilbao to decide about this season. He would like to return to a Greek club, also because of his studies.
Philipp Schwethelm, Germany
The German wing player is actually a free agent after the collapse of the Köln 99ers and will be looking for a place where he can receive significant playing time next season. Aside from his German citizenship, the fact that Schwethelm also qualifies for the Under-24 fund makes him doubly attractive for BBL teams who could then make some good money off playing him.
Tibor Pleiß, Germany
Like Schwethelm, seven-footer Pleiss is also a free agent after the collapse of the Köln 99ers, and he too would be best served by finding somewhere to earn quality minutes.
Robin Benzing, Germany
Germany’s young forward, like Schwethelm and Pleiß, will be attending Germany’s men national team training camp for EuroBasket 2009. Benzing, the U20’s leading scorer with 22.2 points per game, will then be heading to German BBL club Ulm, where he hopes to make it into coach Mike Taylor’s rotation.
Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania
Motiejunas has been the subject of many a rumor. The Lithuanian big man says he wants to go to a place where he will play and does not want to sit on the bench – even if that means playing for a smaller club. Motiejunas wants to work on his game and improve. And that will not happen sitting on the bench.
Nikola Vucevic, Montenegro
The Montenegrin big man, who was named to the U20 All-Tournament Team, will be heading back to USC for his sophomore season. Kevin O’Neill told heinnews that he expects Vucevic to be one of his main men and that he will likely play more than 30 minutes again. Look for him to put up big numbers and draw plenty of offers from European clubs trying to bring him back to Europe.
Sead Sehovic, Montenegro
The Montenegro captain will be returning to Buducnost Podgorica with the U20 national team coach Dejan Radonjic. Sehovic will likely make strides and play more and more with the Eurocup team.
Davis Rozitis, Latvia
The Latvian big man will be heading Stateside to play alongside Vucevic at USC. The 19-year-old will be a freshman and will be well-served to have Vucevic, someone who had to fight to get playing time, to talk to. If Rozitis can develop, he and Vucevic would form a very formidable one-two team in the blocks.
Deniz Kilicli, Turkey
Kilicli will be returning to the States as well, this time to become a college basketball player. After one season in a college-prep high school in West Virginia, Kilicli is headed to West Virginia University to play for coach Bob Huggins.