Dylan Harper

And-Ones: Watanabe, Japan, Risacher, McDonald’s All-Americans, All-Stars

Japan won its first FIBA World Cup game in 17 years in 2023, and Suns wing Yuta Watanabe was a big part of that team. Watanabe reminisced on his summer in a conversation with HoopsHype’s Sam Yip, expressing optimism for Japan’s future in basketball.

If I’m going to retire in five, six years in a realistic world, we [are probably] not going to be one of the top teams in the world in five years, but I think at least we will be good enough to compete against those great teams,” Watanabe said. “I mean we did a good job against Germany and Australia in the World Cup. We lost by 20 but we won the second half. I think in five, six years we gonna be there to compete against those teams.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • French wing Zaccharie Risacher is making a case to be one of the first players selected in the 2024 draft during a historically productive season, ESPN’s Jeremy Woo writes (ESPN+ link). Risacher boasts a mix of positional size, scoring, play-making, defense and smarts, according to Woo. His physical profile is similar to that of Shane Battier and Ziaire Williams. Woo breaks down the rest of Risacher’s game, explaining why he could go No. 1 overall and considering which teams might make sense for him.
  • The 2024 McDonald’s All-American Game roster was unveiled on ESPN on Tuesday, and it features potential 2025 No. 1 overall picks Cooper Flagg and Ace Bailey (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jonathan Givony). Kentucky commit Boogie Fland, Duke commit Isaiah Evans, Washington commit Zoom Diallo and Rutgers commit Dylan Harper are among others featured on the rosters.
  • Ahead of the All-Star starters being unveiled earlier Thursday, The Ringer’s Michael Pina broke down his official starter ballot, as well as who he thinks the reserves should be. Pina voted for Tyrese Haliburton, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, all of which mirrored the official selections. However, Pina had New York’s Jalen Brunson over Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard on his ballot. He also picked the Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard over LeBron James and Phoenix’s Kevin Durant. Check out the rest of his selections here.