The international influence on American basketball is at an all-time high. Ben Simmons being selected No. 1 in last year’s NBA draft marked the third time in the last four years that an international player has been picked first. Nearly half of last year’s first round was comprised of players from outside the United States.
And it’s not slowing down, either.
While Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson is likely to be the No. 1 pick in June, Arizona star forward Lauri Markkanen -- a Finland native -- will go in the top 10 and is arguably the best big man in the draft. The No. 2 prospect in the 2017 class, DeAndre Ayton, is from the Bahamas. The No. 1 player in 2019, R.J. Barrett, is from Canada. Three of the top high school sophomores in the country are from outside the United States.
So who is the next international star to impact college basketball? Because players who attend high schools in the United States are eligible for ESPN's rankings, you won’t see Ayton, Barrett, Charles Bassey, Chol Marial or Simi Shittu -- all top 10 players in their respective classes -- here. These players are all playing overseas, and they could be putting on a college uniform in the near future.