Scouting the NBA Academies

From Josh Giddey, to Bennedict Mathurin to Dyson Daniels, the NBA Academies have become a hot-bed for elite talent from around the globe over recent years. A blind spot to many when these prospects hit the hardwood in the US, I broke down the next wave of notable prospects from the Africa, Global and Latin American Academies.

NBA Africa

Darlan arose early last winter with NBA Africa and has been on a steady ascension since. From a positive showing in FIBA play with the Central African Republic to big stretches stateside in front of NBA personnel at the Tarkanian Classic, Basketball Without Borders and a few other events, the 6-6+ wing is squarely in the mix among elites in the 2024 Draft. Heading to play for the G-League Ignite next year while now currently rehabbing an extensive ankle injury, he'll garner plenty of attention playing alongside Matas Buzelis, London Johnson and company.

In terms of his skillset, polish will be a work in progress and him being sidelined certainly puts things on hold. Darlan is a loaded with length (7-1+) and should see his frame really take shape over the next 10 or so months. Most comfortable on the ball, the 19-year-old has some inherent creativity to him off the bounce, twitch to create separation and an advanced feel for attacking mismatches. While crafty at times finding dump offs after forcing a rotation or flashing timely live dribble crosscourt whips, his overall decision-making process is in the early stages. Tightening his handle will be the first step in the right direction, an area that has undoubtedly progressed since my initial viewing. Defensively, Darlan is ahead of the curve and provides plenty to be intrigued with long-term. Quick laterally, understands how to utilize his length and closes gaps off the ball in a hurry. Playing with more consistent energy on that end will be an area he has to continue to improve on, but an understandable weak-point given what he was experimenting with on the other end of the floor. Overall, in a 2023 cycle largely devoid of elite-level upside, Darlan presents a collection of traits that NBA teams should be drawn to towards the top of the class.


In a 2025 class that appears to be the strongest in recent years, with both potential star-power at the top and high upside prospects scattered down the ranks, NBA Africa has a high level big man brewing in South Sudanese seven-footer, Khaman Maluach. A dominant rim protector with explosiveness and instincts in deep, the powerful athlete provides big-time rim-running ability to go with a developing three-point stroke that's beginning to fall with more regularity.  Still just 16 years old, Maluach's frame is well ahead of most big's his same age but has room to improve in terms of lateral movement and flexibility. Long-term, I'm bullish on the South Sudan native as a potential defensive anchor given his ability to deter drivers, stifle bigs and rack up block numbers. Offensively, he's taken big steps forward as a shooter, but has a ways to go in terms of shot selection, overall feel and decision-making. The blend of athleticism, rim protection and shooting indicators all packed into a 7-1, 225 pound 16-year-old has him among the premier long-term prospects in 2025.


Another 2025 prospect, Modou Fall Thiam has burst onto the scene over the last few months after trips to Tark and BWB. A high level off-ball scorer, the smooth southpaw can stroke it off the catch and has impressive feel as a cutter. In comparison to many other of NBA Africa's high level prospects over the last few years, Thiam's feel for the game and advanced instincts are a prime example of how basketball has grown in the continent. Takes what the defense gives him, shoots well through contests and has a mature demeanor to him. While older for the class, reclassification could be in the cards for the Senagelese down the line depending on his development.  


Chomche is a versatile big full of youthfulness and upside originally out of Cameroon. While consistency has wavered throughout the last two years, the 6-11 big man has flashed ability as an inside-out scorer with shot-blocking instincts. At his best utilized out of DHO's and flowing into space, Chomche has shown touch at multiple levels and has improved his ability to play through contact. When the Cameroonian big has sputtered at points, it's largely been related to his developing feel for the game and processing ability. He's shown flashes in a variety of areas, but it's still unclear what he can hang his hat on and what kind of personnel he's best playing alongside of in the frontcourt. Chomche, as many expected, dropped back a class given his youth and more reps this year should certainly go a long way in his development.


A recent reclass back from 2023, Hendawy quickly became a favorite within the NBA Academy pool after my initial viewing in late 2022. The Egyptian-born wing has been an accomplished player in international play thus far and has plenty of malleability to build upon moving forward. Carrying ideal wing size at 6-6 with intriguing movement skills and toughness, Hendawy shines as a perimeter defender capable of switching up and down the line. The 17-year-old plays with a ton of energy, provides value on the glass and has shown the ability to knock down shots off the catch. 


Camara strung together an enormous showing in Las Vegas late in 2022 and is lining up as a value get late in the 2023 recruiting cycle. A smooth shooter with advanced footwork, space creation ability and amnesia as a perimeter shooter. While his overall consistency largely hinges on makes/misses and he doesn't have a ton more to hang his hat on, his development has moved quickly and there may be room for even more to tap into offensively. As an off-ball scorer, the Malian guard makes quick decisions and can generate offense in a hurry with his long-strided first step and ability to demand hard closeouts when in rhythm. DePaul outlasted a few programs in pursuit, and the 6-5 swingman should have the opportunity to make an early impact in Chicago. 


Abass has broken out with NBA Africa late in the process and high-majors have quickly swarmed, and for due reason. Different than some others previously discussed here, Abass' upside is much less theoretical and the sell is largely related to his plug-and-play ability in a frontcourt early on. At 6-9 and loaded with strength, the Nigerian big has a work-man's approach — owns the glass, carves up space in deep, provides an ultra physical low-post presence and consistently makes hustle plays. Abass has all the ingredients to provide value at the next level early on given his physical tools, raw power and relentless motor.

NBA Global

Zikarsky has been touted as the next big prospect out of Australia, and he's certainly got size on his side. Soft hands and full of toughness at 7-2, Zikarsky eats up space on the interior and is an adept rim finisher through traffic. With this archetype, the worry areas are usually clear-cut — can he move well enough in space, is there anything outside of rim running productivity and is the motor consistent enough. Still just 16-years-old, but I'm bullish on two out of the three areas already. While the assist numbers don't quite show it yet, there's a lot to like about the big man's passing feel out of the mid-post and double teams. Zikarsky owns a massive standing reach, leveraged on the glass, as a finisher and as a rim protector. The 7-2 southpaw should continue to grow more consistent and versatile offensively as his strength improves and while there are natural limitations given his size, there's a ton to like in terms of his foundation of intangibles and skill. 


Condon arose late in the process with the NBA Global Academy and put himself squarely on the high-major radar. While his physical tools aren't anything to write home about in terms of a high-major big, the future Florida Gator has excellent hands and advanced feel on the offensive end. At his best as a dive man attacking a tilted defense, Condon excels finding angles to the rim, flaring it out to open scorers once the defense is sucked in and grifting fouls with clean footwork in deep. Florida, under Todd Golden, has put together an intriguing strategy on the recruiting trail and have one of my favorite under-the-radar incoming duos in Condon and Thomas Haugh


There's plenty to like with future Gonzaga Bulldog, Alex Toohey, but perhaps nothing stands out more than his overall basketball brain and processing ability. A hand-in-glove fit in Spokane, Toohey excels playing in a heavy motion setting — a connective piece, heady ball mover and a sound shooter given time and space. An underwhelming athlete at times and struggles to create separation off the bounce, he'll have to adjust to the level of athlete at the next level but has the intangibles, smarts and skill-level to carve out a role in time for the Zags.


Wang, originally out from China, has come along nicely for the Global Academy and has become a priority for high-major programs. The 6-9 wing might face similar issues early on as Alex Toohey as an athlete, but provides a cerebral presence in the frontcourt and is loaded with skill. It's not all flashy or full of flair, but Wang projects as a connective piece who knocks down open looks, orchestrates offense out of DHO's, makes the extra pass, rebounds and has strong feel positionally. Good things happen when he's on the floor, and Wang will be a guy that staff's want flanking their star players.


A native of Japan, Jacobs has impressed when healthy with the NBA Global Academy. A valuable role player with a prototypical '3 & D' skillset, the 6-7 thrives spacing the floor from the corners and driving closeouts to maintain advantages. Heady flowing into space off the ball and getting off his smooth southpaw stroke, there's a role at the next level for a mid-major program pending fit and health. 


NBA Latin America

The Latin American Academy has established a strong connection with Canada, specifically Montreal, and Tadjo appears next in line as an impact college player hailing from Quebec. A brute force in the frontcourt, Tadjo is an explosive athlete who plays bigger than he is at 6-8. Energetic, hard-nosed on the glass and a mismatch slasher in a five-out setting. Raw in a variety of areas at this stage, but Tadjo has a variety of physical tools, instincts on the glass and upside as a switchable defender that should appeal to collegiate staffs.

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