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Fournier proving to be fast learner as international student

Denver Nuggets rookie performing well in first NBA training camp

Guard Evan Fournier was selected 20th overall by the Nuggets in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

As a teenager living away from his family for the first time, it would be understandable for Evan Fournier to be a little homesick.

After all, an eight-hour time difference and nearly 5,000 miles separate Fournier from the life he knew as an international NBA prospect playing in Paris.

Though the adjustment can be tough at times, Fournier is enjoying every minute of his new life with the Denver Nuggets.

“How can I miss something when you look at this,” Fournier says, sweeping his arm toward the middle of the Nuggets locker room.

“It’s a great experience (going through) my first NBA training camp. Everybody plays tough with a lot of intensity. It’s been great playing with the guys.”

Fournier, 19, is accustomed to fitting in with older teammates. He played professionally in France for three years, including two in the country’s top Pro A league, and performed well enough to make the jump to the NBA.

When the Nuggets drafted Fournier with the 20th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, many people thought he would return to France to polish his game. Instead, Denver opted to sign Fournier to a multiyear contract and allow him to work with its coaching staff on a daily basis.

Fournier quickly validated the decision by averaging 14.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists at the 2012 NBA Summer League, and he worked out at Pepsi Center for several weeks leading up to training camp.


ROOKIE PHOTO GALLERY

The dedication has been evident through the first week of practice. Fournier looks comfortable in his new surroundings while playing primarily at shooting guard and small forward.

Within a five-minute stretch Tuesday, he hit two three-pointers and converted two fast-break dunks during the team's 5-on-5 scrimmage.

“He’s a 2 or 3 man right now that can probably play 1, 2 and 3 in a year or two,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He’s creative and he has the versatility to be a good playmaker at times.”

At 6-foot-7, Fournier still needs to sharpen his ball-handling skills, but his ability to create plays off the dribble and knock down perimeter shots are reminiscent of his favorite player – San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.

The Nuggets will face Ginobili and the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday. Fournier played less than 7 minutes in Denver’s first preseason game, and Karl said he likely will play more in the next two games.

“He’s a very interesting basketball player for us,” Karl said. “Mentally he has the basketball IQ that he doesn’t make mistakes. He’s the type of guy that when he learns something once, he doesn’t have to be told again. He has a mental focus that he wants to be good. He’s committed very much to being here.”

Fournier is also committed to improving his jump shot. He has been working with assistant John Welch to bring his elbow more in line under his shooting hand.

“My jump shot has always been pretty good, but it’s getting better,” Fournier said.

Fournier’s fans in France will be following his development in America. He said his parents plan to subscribe to NBA League Pass, and a documentary about his rise to the NBA is set to premier Oct. 17.

If all goes well in America, Fournier could give filmmakers plenty of material for a sequel.