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Which FIBAU19 World Cup 2019 standout we might see at the Asia Cup 2021?
HERAKLION (Greece) – The FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 had basketball fans from all over the world on the lookout for the future stars of tomorrow. There’s no doubt that Asian basketball fans will highly on alert as well, especially after Rui Hachimura’s emergence from U19 World Cup star in 2017 to Top-10 NBA Draft pick in 2019. Who will be the next star to rise out of the youth ranks?
Which of the players featured at this year's FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup we might see at the FIBA Asia Cup in 2021?
Here’s a look at some of the Asian youth prospects who could be jumping to the senior teams soon!
Tamuri Wigness (Australia)
Wigness is only 17 years old and Australia’s roster depth might go even deeper than than the deepest points of the Great Barrier Reef, but he’s already pegged one of the best prospects out of Australia. It might not be too crazy to imagine him as a part of the Boomers 2 years from now.
The highly-touted guard already drew high praise for his performance at the U17 World Cup in 2018 and starred at the U19 World Cup once again.. At the U17 World Cup, Wigness put up a neat line of 10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.6 rebounds per game as one of the best players on the team.
In Greece, Wigness flashed much potential as one of the Emus' floor generals despite being younger than most of the entire playing field. He led the team with 3.1 assists per game while also putting up 7.6 points on 41.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Samson Froling (Australia)
Australia's star big man might not be as flashy as the younger Wigness, but he's arguably an even more important piece to the team.
Froling comes from a family of high-level ballers and has been doing well on his part to be just as good or even better than the rest. At the U18 Asian Championship, Froling recorded 14.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assist per game as the team's leader all the way to the title.
At the U19 World Cup, Froling led the team in scoring (11.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.7 boards per game), while also impressing as a sweet passing big man as the team's second leader in assists (3.1 assists per contest). The 2.12M (6'11") center also showed his range by knocking down the game-winning triple against a strong Mali team.
Kai Sotto (Philippines)
There might not be a player in the entire U19 World Cup that shoulders the expectation of an entire nation like Kai Sotto. The 7-footer is the prized prospect of the basketball-crazed nation who is expected to pan out and become one of their most impactful players ever.
Sotto’s has not disappointed so far, starring in every youth national team event from the U16 Asia Cup, U17 World Cup, and U18 Asia Cup leading up to this summer. At the U17 World Cup in Argentina, he posted a double-double average of 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, putting himself on the global radar.
It was the same story at the U19 World Cup with Sotto being one of the best shot blockers in the entire tournament. Sotto was tied for the tournament leader in blocks with 22 in total, reaching a high of 6 blocks in a single game twice during this competition. His average line for the tournament was a solid 11.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game.
All of this while still being one of the youngest players in the entire competition.
Max Darling (New Zealand)
His name might be Darling, but Max is a "beast" on the court for New Zealand. Built like a tank with the athleticism of a volleyball player, Darling has been the force for the Junior Tall Blacks ever since the U18 Asian Championship when he averaged 13.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Since then, Darling has gone on to play professionally in Croatia before boasting off the improvements of his game at the U19 World Cup. He led the team in rebounds and is the second leading scorer with 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
After some more fine-tuning, we might get to see an even better version of Darling playing for New Zealand at the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
Guo Haowen (China)
Guo is another player who has had the opportunity to play a full season at the highest-level professional league in his country.
At the U18 Asian Championship, Guo put up 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game before heading into his rookie season in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) with the Bayi Rockets. In his first CBA season, Guo averaged 9.1 points, 3.4 boards, and 1.8 assists per contest.
His high-level of play even among older players in the CBA had not gone unnoticed. He was eventually called up to play for the senior national team at the World Cup Asian qualifiers in February. With another strong outing at the FIBA U19 World Cup, it’s more than likely that Guo will get his shot sometime down the road leading up to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 once again.
And a strong performance at the FIBA U19 World Cup Guo had indeed. In China's win over Puerto Rico, Guo made history with a 34-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist triple-double. It was only the 3rd ever triple-double in tournament history since 1991. Guo's record stands as the highest scoring triple-double among all three and the only record by a player from an Asian country.
Guo was the 4th leading scorer in the tournament at 20.1 points per game while also wrapping up with 5.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per contest.
Sean Dave Ildefonso (Philippines)
The Philippines lost one of their stars, AJ Edu, in just the very first game of the U19 World Cup, so they really needed someone else to step up.
Ildefonso had already done a good job at the U18 Asian Championship in 2018 with 9.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. But it was in Greece in this trip that he really elevated his game. The swingman finished among the top 10 scorers of the tournament while also leading the team in assists. Over the entire tournament, Ildefonso averaged 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per contest.
He was especially spectacular in the Philippines' rivalry game against China where he put up 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists against aforementioned Guo Haowen en route to a win. If he wasn't before, Ildefonso should now be on Gilas' radar for a shot at a roster spot during the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers