Elite basketball players from all over the world have gathered in Hungary, and Mike Boynton has a front-row seat.
Boynton is an assistant coach for USA Basketball at the FIBA U19 World Cup. Also, Oklahoma State’s coach, Boynton has used 12 of his 13 available scholarships heading into the 2023-24 season. He still might not use that final scholarship to finish off OSU’s sanctions spawning from the FBI’s probe into college basketball (it’s almost finally behind the Cowboys). But he said Monday he hasn’t committed to whether he will use it.
“This is an age group here that has some possibilities, so I’m paying attention to the other games as well,” Boynton said. “… I probably wouldn’t be comfortable saying [whether he’ll use the final scholarship], especially with the climate of our game. Crazy things happen. Crazy things have happened in the last week, so I don’t want to commit myself to something then have to come back and say I made a boo-boo on.”
So, for the sake of fun, who are some guys Boynton could have an eye on in Hungary? It’s believed shooting would make the most sense for the final scholarship spot, so let’s take a look at some of the best shooters at the U19 World Cup through the group stage.
It’s tough to say who from this group is even college eligible or who would be willing to move to the United States. So, let’s take this list with a grain of salt and have a little fun.
Melvin Ajinca, France
Listed at 6-foot-7, Ajinca turned 19 on Monday. He has been beyond impressive for France, averaging 19.3 points, three rebounds and 1.7 assists a game while shooting 44% from 3.
His worst 3-point shooting game came Tuesday where he was just 2-for-7, but he still managed to score 23 points after getting to the foul line 11 times.
Ajinca plays for Saint Quentin in France, according to Eurobasket. In 33 games in the France-ProB, he averaged 8.5 points a game while shooting 39% from 3.
Ilija Milijasevic, Serbia
Also 19 years old, the 6-foot-2 Ilija Milijasevic averaged 18 points, four rebounds, five assists and 3.3 steals a game during the group stage while shooting 43% (12-for-28) from deep. He dropped 21 points on Brazil, going 5-for-11 from 3.
Milijasevic played for Dynamic VP and Spartak this season in the Serbian KLS, according to Eurobasket. In 34 games this past season, he averaged 12.3 points while shooting 34% from 3-point range.
Yuhyeon Moon, Korea
Listed at 6-foot-2, Moon went 7-for-11 (64%) from 3-point range during the group stage and averaged 14.3 points a game. His best game came against Turkey where he was 4-for-4 from 3 and had 22 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Moon recently turned 19 years old and, according to his Instagram, plays at Korea University.
Kichan Yun, Korea
The Koreans have some shooters.
Listed at 6-foot-5, Kichan Yun is 18 years old and went 6-for-11 (55%) from deep during the group stage. He scored 21 points against Argentina on Tuesday, going 4-for-5 from 3-point range. He averaged 11.3 points, and 1.7 rebounds a game in the group stage.
Yun plays alongside Moon at Korea University, according to his Instagram.
Wei Lun Zhao, China
Boynton will get an up-close look at Wei Lun Zhao on Wednesday, as the Americans play China in the Round of 16. A 5-11 17-year-old, Zhao is 8-for-15 (53.3) from 3 thus far in Hungary. He was 4-for-5 from 3 in a loss to Canada, where he had 25 points, four assists and two rebounds. He averaged 14 points a game in the group stage.
Zhao plays with Pallacanestro Varese in Italy, according to FIBA. In 24 games in the Italy-Serie B this past season, Zhao averaged 17.3 points a game while shooting 35% from 3-point range, according to Eurobasket.
Jordi Rodriguez, Spain
A 6-foot-6 19-year-old, Jordi Rodriguez was 9-for-22 (41%) from 3 in the group stage and averaged 13 points a game. He hit three 3s in all of Spain’s group stage games, as the Spaniards went 3-0.
He plays in Spain, with most of his game time coming with CB Prat Juventud in the LEB Silver. In 31 games there, Rodriguez averaged 10.2 points while shooting 37% from 3, according to Eurobasket.