Be sure to keep tabs on Gobert, Thompson and Fotu after Spain 2014
VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - Putting in the extra work every summer is a must for a basketball player.
For at least three - Rudy Gobert of France, Klay Thompson of the United States and Isaac Fotu of New Zealand - the FIBA Basketball World Cup looks to have had a major impact on their careers.
The competition gave each the ideal environment to practice, play games, stay fit and build confidence.
I'm expecting the World Cup to be a launchpad for strong seasons for all three.
Rudy Gobert, France
The 22-year-old Gobert grew up quickly at the World Cup.
In his first senior team action, the Saint-Quentin-born center averaged 4.1 points and 4.7 rebounds.
His best performance came in France's 65-52 upset of tournament hosts Spain in the Quarter-Finals.
Not only did the 2.15m Gobert come up with the block of the tournament when he swatted Pau Gasol, he altered other shots.
Gobert has returned to Salt Lake City a better and more confident player. He is sure to average more than the 9.6 minutes per game he did as a rookie.
In a recent interview with the Deseret News, Utah Jazz coach Quinn Snyder said: "Obviously, his strength right now is he affects the game defensively.
"I think there's clearly a place for him on the floor. He changes the game."
Snyder, who has replaced Tyrone Corbin at the helm, also wants to help the 2.15m Gobert develop his offensive game.
The 22-year-old is tough to handle when he rolls to the rim.
Defensively is where Gobert can and should make an impact for the Jazz this year.
"If he's back there, he discourages people from going to the rim," said Snyder.
Klay Thompson, United States
The Golden State Warrior grew in stature at the World Cup.
For me, he's already a superstar.
His coach last season, Mark Jackson, held a conference call with reporters this week and said of Thompson: "He's a guy that will make a boatload of money and in my opinion the best two-way shooting guard in the world, and it's not even close."
There is a lot to like about Thompson.
For starters, he has good size at shooting guard at 2m in height and he can play tremendous defense.
There is also a certain long-distance stroke he possesses that left spectators in Spain in awe.
Thompson drilled 22 of his 53 attempts (41.5 percent) from the arc and shot 52.3 percent (45 of 86) overall.
You know why I like him? He is enthusiastic about playing the game not just in the NBA, but at World Cups and Olympics.
"I'm so excited especially on the world stage," Thompson said after the USA's title game romp over Serbia on 14 September.
"Next up is an Olympic gold medal and an NBA Championship. If I get all three of those, you can't get any better than that."
Isaac Fotu, New Zealand
It's hard to believe after watching Fotu compete for the Tall Blacks at the World Cup that he is just 20 years of age.
Yes folks, Fotu is still a college basketball player. He runs up and down the floor for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, whose coach Gib Arnold watched World Cup games in Bilbao.
Fotu averaged 14.9 ppg and 6.1 rpg last season for Hawaii and ranked 17th in the NCAA in field goal percentage (58.4 percent).
He did even better at the World Cup, making 60.5 percent (23 of 38) of his field goal attempts and 41.7 percent from behind the arc.
Fotu is on the Big West Conference pre-season all-conference team.
"It's a much deserved all-conference selection," Arnold said to the Hawaii Rainbows website.
"He is a great kid, great student, and great player. We couldn't ask for a better representative for the University of Hawaii.
"I believe he is not only the best player in the conference but one of the best in the nation."
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