Jun 29, 2011, 12:08 PM EDT
Scouts who had seen Jonas Valanciunas raved about him as maybe the player with the highest ceiling in this draft (or at least the guy most likely to reach a high ceiling of all the Europeans in the draft).
Fans? Not sold at all. Plenty read the name and thought the Raptors just drafted a New York cab driver.
Then they should have been watching yesterday. The Toronto Sun was.
Valanciunas was the best player on the floor as Lithuania humiliated the United States 108-75 in a tuneup for the FIBA under-19 championship, which gets underway on Thursday in Latvia.
The fifth overall selection by the Raptors imposed his will on the smaller Americans, compiling a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, along with two blocks and a steal.
Valanciunas is rail-thin and must pack on 15-25 pounds before he can compete effectively in the NBA, but against those his own age, he has consistently dominated.
He did that against Florida’s Patric Young, who was considered a sure fire lottery pick if he came out this season (Young had 6 points). We told you draft night this was a smart pick by the Raptors, they took the best guy on the board. This is not Andrea Bargnani part deux, this is a guy a lot of teams were seriously eyeing. And some young Americans found out why Tuesday.
The league may find out in a couple years.
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Miami Heat 5
- Mike Miller points to him being amnestied as start of LeBron James leaving Miami 11
- Kobe Bryant thinks he could physically play beyond contract extension 14
- Trey Burke, in wake of nude-photo scandal: ‘My judgments will be much better’ 11
- Report: Kevin Durant says he wants to play in 2016 Olympics (his free agent summer) 5
- Morris twins sign four-year extensions with Suns 11
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Washington Wizards 3
- Rockets’ Daryl Morey fires back at Mark Cuban: If you care about chemistry, why break up a title team? 36