After a pair of drafts with a large number of international players picked and significant attention paid to top prospects, it should no longer be a surprise that young international players are being considered for picks. The two recent strong classes are being followed by a relatively weak class that is going to reduce the enthusiasm for international picks this year. International players that were born in 2000 who have never enrolled in college in the United States will be the ones eligible for this draft. Last year also saw the first two picks of foreign players who left college to turn professional since 2013 so while they are technically not considered international players, any player born in 1998 who left college early is also eligible for this draft as well as any players who left college after they could have made themselves available for the last draft. While this year’s draft may not have the star power of recent drafts on the international side, those looking forward to 2021 should know that that one is shaping up to be one of the deepest international draft classes ever. With that said, here are some names to be familiar with in case they are called on draft day:
Li Yuan, China, PG, Shandong
After two players from China were drafted last year, more attention is being paid to the country as new measures have been taken to improve basketball development there. Li has had a number of chances to play for the national team from a young age and plays with an impressive degree of fearlessness as a result. Unfortunately, with that level of confidence she still has a long way to go when it comes to decision making and cutting down on turnovers. There will be plenty of film if national team competition as well as WNBA preseason games to review before the draft, but if she is not ready for a WNBA roster spot, questions will be asked about her development to possibly get to that point as she is not always challenged on the club level. The potential that is apparent may be enough for someone to use a late round pick on her.
Chen Mingling, China, C, Xinjiang
Solid performances at the last U19 World Cup put Chen on the map and she has since gotten more chances on the senior level. Unfortunately, she has ended up in club situations where there are already other post players, limiting the amount of time available for her to be properly evaluated. She does not have the projected upside of the two young Chinese post players picked last year, but the competition she faces could help her develop in the future. A team could be tempted to pick her late with the hope that her offensive skillset rounds out over time and that her rebounding translates at higher levels.
Park Ji-Hyun, South Korea, SG, Woori Bank
While the country continues to pour resources into the game on the professional level, development of high level talent has not always been successful. Two years after having a player drafted, the next Korean hope will be eligible this year. Park is a guard who can do a little bit of everything and, along with a handful of senior team appearances, she has made an impression on the world stage at a youth national team level. Her height means that she will have to fully transition to a shooting guard outside of local league level and with that will come the need to vastly improve her shooting range and ability. It is unlikely that any team sees enough right now, even for a late pick, but she is a player to watch down the line.
Luisa Geiselsoder, Germany, C, Donau-Ries
Already in contention for the scoring title, Luisa Geiselsoder has been very impressive in league play after a busy summer at the youth national team level and then senior team appearances in the fall. Her post play is excellent, but she may need to demonstrate more range when she goes up against taller players and tougher competition. The level of play in Germany has improved recently while still giving ample opportunity to young players. While some of them have taken that exposure to grab college opportunities, Geiselsoder is one of a number of players in the near future who will be in the draft conversation.
Leonie Fiebich, Germany, PF, Wasserburg
The best international prospect in this draft may be one who has not even played a game this season. Fiebich had an impressive season with the German powerhouse in their last campaign, but suffered an injury at the U19 World Championship. The rules of the draft mean this is the one chance for teams to pick her before she becomes a free agent and the uncertainty will probably leave her off everyone’s boards for now. If she comes back strong next season and continues to show a varied offensive skillset, she will certainly become a name to keep an eye on in the future.
Billie Massey, Belgium, PF, Sint-Katelijne-Waver
One half of a twin duo, Billie Massey plays with a relentlessness that makes her a rebounding machine. She has played quite well for her local club in Belgium, but it will be a big step for her to reach an elite level in Europe or possibly the WNBA. While the energy level will translate, her height will probably require a transition to being able to play the small forward position at least some of the time, meaning a need to increase her offensive range. A team could take a chance late on her in the hopes that she will continue to do what it takes to improve as a player and move on to a higher level of competition.
Becky Massey, Belgium, PF, Sint-Katelijne-Waver
Like her sister, Becky Massey has shown a lot of promise in her young career. Her offensive game is becoming more refined and she has a natural scoring instinct. One of the difficulties in evaluating young internationals comes in situations like this when a player is one of the older players on her team, giving her more opportunity than most players her age, but also not knowing whether her accomplishments are simply due to those increased opportunities or could scale up in a different environment. Becky is likely to be undrafted, but she should be ready for a move to a higher level soon where her long term future will be more clear.
Oceane Monpierre, France, PG, La Roche Vendee
Originally headed to Syracuse, Monpierre did not end up attending, which has allowed her the opportunity to play another season with the same team and put in some solid performances at a high level of club play. Unlike many other young French players who have opted for college and more playing time, she has gotten the minutes to prove that she belongs, but will need to show more in the next few months to become a draft-level prospect. If she continues to develop, she could be back on the radar, but a lot of attention in the next year will be paid to an incredible group of 2001 born players in France.