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Could this be the All-Star Five at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019?
MIES (Switzerland) - Who are the stars to watch at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019? FIBA.basketball youth basketball expert David Hein looks at how the All-Star Five could look on July 7, even throwing five more stars to watch in Heraklion.
Evan Mobley, United States, Forward
This is actually probably the hardest player to get right. You would have to imagine the United States have a good shot at reclaiming the crown and there will be at least one American in the All-Star Five. Mobley excelled at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 with 9.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.6 blocks - all in just 18 minutes a game. And he is regarded as the number one player in the 2020 high school class in the United States, thanks to his versatile play at both ends of the court.
But could it be Jalen Green, who was the U17 World Cup MVP last summer? Another possibility could be Kira Lewis Jr., the biggest producer of the five Americans who went to college last season, averaging 13.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Alabama. But let's stick with Mobley.
AJ Lawson, Canada, Guard
Lawson will likely be called upon to be one of the main leaders for Dan Vanhooren's Canada team as the only returnee of four Canadians who averaged at least 14 points a game at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2018. Lawson was also brilliant at times this past season at South Carolina, playing in the very tough Southeastern Conference (SEC). He showed he can really pass the ball with eight games with at least five assists while also shooting a respectable 36 percent from three-point range. Again, Canada going deep into the tournament would mean one of Vanhooren's men would likely earn a spot on the team.
Marco Pecarski, Serbia, Center
Pecarski has shown throughout his youth career that he is a beast, winning back-to-back FIBA U18 European Championships with Serbia and taking MVP honors last summer by collecting 24.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals. The big man is extremely effective around the basket and a great rebounder in addition to having range beyond the three-point line. Pecarski also has already played for Partizan Belgrade's senior squad and he will be excited to finally play his first global competition.
Rokas Jokubaitis, Lithuania, Guard
Considering that at least two Europeans have reached the top four in every U19 World Cup except the first edition, Lithuania have a good chance of getting into the Semi-Finals with a loaded team. One of the Baltic side's main weapons will be Jokubaitis. The point guard has already earned playing time with Zalgiris Kaunas' pro side thanks to his excellent playmaking skills and his understanding of the game. Jokubaitis also has played in this tournament already, appearing at Cairo 2017 two years younger than the rest of the competition. He will be relied on even more with Deivadas Sirvydis not showing up, but he will get help from Martynas Arlauskas, who will be extra motivated in Heraklion, having missed out on the FIBA U18 European Championship 2018 as he was recovering from an injury.
Andre Curbelo, Puerto Rico, Guard
Okay, this might be a bit of a reach but Curbelo is one of eight players who made the U19 team after guiding Puerto Rico to a magical third place at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 in Argentina. Curbelo was electric as the Puerto Ricans' leader, driving to the basket at will and always making the right decision with the ball. That ended up getting Curbelo a spot on the All-Star Five. After a successful season at high school in New York, the Puerto Rican ace is ready for more fun.
Other stars to watch
Okay, so, that might be what the All-Star Five looks like when all is said and done in Greece on July 7. Here are some other great players to watch out for the 14th edition of the U19 World Cup:
- Joel Ayayi, France, Guard
- Francisco Caffaro, Argentina, Center
- Sam Froling, Australia, Center
- Guo Haowen, China, Forward
- Kai Sotto, Philippines, Center