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.
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