International Notes: Patton, Sarr, Zagars, Canada

Former NBA center Justin Patton has signed with the Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

The 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Patton only ended up playing in 22 NBA games for the Timberwolves, Sixers, Thunder, and Rockets between 2017-21 before heading overseas. A series of foot injuries derailed the early part of his professional career, but the 26-year-old has been able to stay on the court more frequently in Israel and France over the past two seasons. This will be Patton’s first stint in China.

Here are a few more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • While he’s not as tantalizing a prospect as Victor Wembanyama, another French center – Alexandre Sarr – is certainly earning fans ahead of the 2024 NBA draft, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape. The 18-year-old, playing for the Perth Wildcats, averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.0 blocks in the team’s two games vs. the G League Ignite last week. “Very intriguing prospect,” one NBA general manager said to Spears. “Top-five pick. In the conversation for the No. 1 pick.”
  • Turkish club Fenerbahce is believed to be nearing a deal with World Cup standout Arturs Zagars, according to Aris Barkas and Johnny Askounis of Zagars, whose strong play for Latvia during the World Cup reportedly attracted NBA interest, is expected to be loaned to BC Wolves to start the 2023/24 season if he finalizes an agreement with Fenerbahce, per Eurohoops.
  • Zagars’ showcase of his NBA potential is one of six takeaways Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports wrote about in his World Cup round-up.
  • Veteran forward Melvin Ejim has never played in the NBA since going pro in 2014, but he has represented Canada in several international competitions, earning bronze medals at the 2015 AmeriCup and 2023 World Cup. As Cesare Milanti of relays, Ejim spoke this week about what it means for the Canadian program to knock off the U.S. and to claim a spot in the 2024 Olympics. “Bronze is amazing, but we have the talent, the people, and the organization to go for gold,” he said. “In the Olympics, we can show that.”
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