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Five future stars you need to watch at FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017
CAIRO (FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017) - The FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup history is full of great players who have shined for their national teams on the global stage. Here are five players to watch during the action in Cairo from 1-9 July.
Barrett will be two years younger than most of the competition as he was born in 2000, but he will be one of Canada's leaders. In fact, the 6ft 7in (2.00m) wing is considered one of the next future stars in Canadian basketball.
Barrett, who is the son of former Canadian Olympian basketball player Rowan Barrett, played with the Canadian senior national team in the build-up to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2016. RJ did not make the team for the OQT but eventually starred for Canada at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016. Now, he will take over a leadership role of the Canadian U19 team and have another chance to show the world that Canada's pipeline of high-level talent continues to flow.
Diallo is one of three USA players coming back to the team after winning the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2016. The Queens, New York native averaged 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists at the U18 level but he will likely play a major leadership role in Cairo.
The 6ft 6in (1.98m) wing participated in practices with the University of Kentucky last season but did not play a game due to late entry into the program. He initially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft but pulled his name out and elected to play at Kentucky even though he was likely a first round pick.
The last time the basketball community saw Hachimura on the world stage was at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup in 2014. The Japanese star finished the tournament - Japan's sole appearance at the U17 global spectacle - as the event's leading scorer including hitting for 25 points against the United States.
Hachimura, whose father is from Benin, has since grown in international popularity by becoming the first Japanese player to play in the NCAA Final Four in helping Gonzaga reach the NCAA title game. The 6ft 8in (2.02m) wing returns to the Japan team and will be the team's top player. Hachimura could win the scoring title of the U19 tournament as well if you take into consideration the 35 points and 10 rebounds he collected in a U19 warm-up against Germany.
If you said one player would lead the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots, one definite candidate would be Khalaf from the hosts Egypt. The 6ft 9in (2.06m) center will be appearing in his second U19 spectacle and already was dominant at Crete 2015 where he was fifth in rebounds with 8.4 rebounds a game and was the top shot-blocker with 2.9 blocks per game despite being three years younger than the rest of the competition.
The Giza native last summer became the first player in history to play at two FIBA U17 Basketball World Cups, averaging 17.0 points per game as well as leading the competition in rebounds (14.0 rpg) and blocks (4.4 bpg) at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016. And he has spent two seasons in Spain getting used to a higher level of competition.
Tillie will be one of the big leaders for a France team that enters the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 as the reigning European champions. Tillie actually did not play at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016 as he was in the United States playing for Gonzaga and reaching the NCAA championship game.
Health has been Tillie's biggest problem as whenever he plays, the Paris native has been fantastic. But the 6ft 10in (2.08m) forward missed two years of action previous to last season. Still he was named the MVP of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2014 - which is the 1998 generation playing in Cairo. Tillie playing the whole season has given himself a chance to continue to develop his all-around game and he will be major weapon at both ends for France in Cairo.