Rivers shines brightest at FIBA tourney
Florida fans should be getting excited about Patric Young. After watching the 6-9 power forward anchor the U.S. frontcourt for three games, I regret not placing the Gators higher than No. 18 in my offseason Power Rankings. They haven't had a post presence like him since Al Horford and Joakim Noah left, and Young's communication skills on defense -- he controls the paint like a loud middle linebacker -- are beyond what you see from a lot of college seniors. He has Noah-level energy -- "I probably model myself after him the most," Young says -- without the rock star/rebel attitude. He left a positive impression on everyone in San Antonio (NBA scouts, USA Basketball officials) except the Brazilian team, one of whose players caught an inadvertent Young knee to the stomach during the gold-medal game and laid on the floor, incapacitated, for a few minutes. Driving guards in the SEC best beware.
Young will probably have more defensive than offensive value for Florida as a freshman, but he does have an advanced set of moves in the post. In one short sequence of the U.S.-Argentina game, I taped him taking feeds from Irving and effortlessly hitting a righty, and then lefty baby-hook:
Missouri-bound Tony Mitchell and Duke-bound Josh Hairston were Young's cohorts in the frontcourt for most of the tournament, alternating minutes as Capel opted for a three-guard lineup. Mitchell, who's 6-7 and extremely agile, looks like the perfect kind of forward for Tigers coach Mike Anderson's hectic attack, and a future star in the Big 12 ... if Mitchell is eligible to play as a freshman. His high school transfer credits are reportedly under investigation, although Anderson said this week that he expects Mitchell to enroll.
Mitchell told SI.com he'll be fine. "Everybody is worried about it," he said, "but I'm good. I finished my ACT and I'm just waiting to hear from the clearinghouse. I have to take tests to get [the transfer credits] back."
The two most impressive non-American prospects in the tournament both came from Brazil:
1. Lucas Nogueira, a 7-0 center who is just 17 years old: He has legit, first-round NBA potential, and made that clear by scoring 22 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking three shots against the U.S. in the gold medal game. Lucas is already a pro for Estudiantes in Spain, and could enter the NBA draft as soon as 2011, according to his agent, Aylton Tesch, a Brazilian who works with Dan Fegan's BEST agency out of Los Angeles. Tesch said that Nogueira's contract buyout was "manageable."
"It's pretty much the same situation we faced with Ricky Rubio in Spain," Tesch said, "but Lucas' buyout is like one-quarter of Rubio's [which was reportedly $6.6 million]."
2. Raul Neto, a 6-2 point guard (18 years old): The kid they call "Raulzinho" wasn't consistently great in San Antonio, but he did drop 34 points on Argentina in the semifinal. Using his speed and a mix of crossovers, floaters and a smooth three-point jumper, Neto showed why he already earns minutes for Minas Tenis Clube's senior team, where his father is an assistant. Brazilian U18 coach Walter Rose, the associate head coach at Hawaii, says Neto "has a great understanding of the game."
Neto has yet to sign a pro contract in Brazil, and has interest in coming to the states to play college. (He briefly considered coming to the U.S. for high school last season, as well.) If he does land in the NCAA in 2011-12, he could be the best foreign point guard to hit D-I since Australian Patty Mills, who starred at St. Mary's from 2007-09.
Since there's little-to-no chance you'll be seeing Nogueira or Neto on ESPN this season, I'll leave you with a few FlipCam highlights ... and an example of how Brazilians celebrate basketball victories. The U.S. reaction to its gold medal was subdued compared to Brazil's party after beating Argentina in the semis:
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