One of the top international basketball prospects at his position — post player Daniel Batcho of France — has committed to Arizona, he told ESPN today.
Batcho is the third international commitment Arizona coach Sean Miller will sign in the 2020 recruiting class, along with Haitian Canadian wing Ben Mathurin from the NBA Academy Latin America and Estonian point guard Kerr Kriisa from Lithuanian team Zalgiris.
“I had a good connection with the coaching staff,” Batcho told ESPN. “They really understood my priorities and showed me how I could reach my goals at the university.”
According to ESPN’s report, Batcho, 18, is considered the top European big man committing to an American college. He ranked second in Player Efficiency Rating at the U16 European Championship in 2018, behind only projected top-five 2021 NBA draft pick Usman Garuba from Spain. Batcho tore his ACL less than a minute into the quarterfinals of that tournament, which prevented him from playing in the 2018-2019 season.
Batcho earned MVP honors in February at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Belgrade after an impressive 24-point, 15-rebound, 3-block performance in the final against Partizan.
ESPN’s NBA draft analyst Jonathon Givony wrote of Batcho: “(He) had some productive outings this season in the competitive French third division playing against men with overmatched CFBB — an Academy team in Paris that features much of France’s young talent, historically — which bodes well for his transition to the college game.”
Batcho posted 21 points and 11 rebounds against the top team in the league, Chartes (23-3), in November. Even the top NBA prospects in France typically fare much worse in the third division than he did as an 18-year-old, a promising sign for his future, Givony wrote.
Batcho was considered the top graduating player from the Parisian Academy and would have had his pick of teams in French professional basketball.
“It’s always difficult to make this kind of decision, but I wanted to have the opportunity to play right away and have a big impact,” Batcho told ESPN. “I also wanted to get physically ready and adjust to an up-tempo style of play that will help me make the transition to the next level.”
Batcho joins an Arizona team that lost seven of its top eight players and 85 percent of its scoring from last season. At 6-foot-10 and 225 pounds, Batcho is a physical player and high-level rebounder who is able to play both power forward and center.
Givony’s assessment of Batcho as a player: “He does most of his damage around the basket, where he embraces contact and has a soft touch and reliable hands that allow him to catch everything thrown his way. His team in France ran quite a bit of offense through him, as he is a good passer and decision-maker for a big man.”
“I expect to be a leader, but I know that I will have to earn my stripes first,” Batcho told ESPN. “It was good to see that Arizona has had success with international players in the past. That shows they have a global understanding of the game that goes beyond the U.S. boundaries. I definitely want to keep this tradition and have success there myself.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.