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The Boston Celtics used their lone 2021 Draft pick Thursday night, No. 45 overall, to draft 18-year-old Juhann Begarin out of France.
The selection of Begarin marks the second consecutive Draft during which the C’s have used their second-rounder to select a young prospect from overseas. Last year, they selected Yam Madar, who has quickly become a highly-regarded international prospect, with the 47th overall pick.
“We really like Juhann,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens said following the Draft. “I think that he’s a guy that’s a big, strong, versatile guard that can guard up (one position) with his strength and athleticism.”
Stevens then shared his takeaways from a recent visit Begarin made to Boston’s practice facility.
“He came in for a workout the other day. We got to see him up close, and we’ve been paying attention to him for a long time,” Stevens commented. “He’s a guy that we think, at his age, and his body, and his physical abilities, and the way that he works and the time that he’s put in thus far, he’s gonna have a really long career ahead of him.”
Stevens said that “the most likely avenue” for Begarin is that he will continue to play overseas next season, although that decision has not been finalized. Likewise, no decision has been made as to whether or not Begarin will be a part of Boston’s Summer League roster that is set to begin play Aug. 8.
Regardless of the outcome of those decisions, Stevens believes that the competitive level of Begarin’s French league will serve as a strong developmental environment for the young guard should he continue to play as a draft-and-stash pick overseas.
“I do think that it can be very, very beneficial,” the coach-turned-executive said of Begarin continuing to play overseas. “And that level of basketball is awfully good, and the coaching in all the different countries and all the different places around the world, as we see, awfully good. And so great preparation for next steps should that be the avenue that Juhann follows, and certainly what Yam has done.”
Begarin hails from Les Abymes, Guadeloupe – the same French commune and island as former Celtic wing Mickael Pietrus. He began playing professionally in 2017 with Centre Federal Du Basket-Ball of the French NM1 league at the age of 15. He remained there for two seasons before moving on to Paris Basketball of the French LNB Pro B league for the last two seasons, where he began to gain traction as an NBA prospect.
Begarin, who stands in at 6-foot-5 and 192 pounds, is coming off of a strong season with Paris Basketball, where he averaged 11.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game while playing an average of 26.6 minutes per game over 39 contests. He is an improved shooter who connected on 45.6 percent of his shots and 34.2 percent of his 3-pointers this past season. During one stretch of the season, he logged five consecutive double-digit scoring performances while helping to elevate his squad to the French LNB Pro A League.
The selection of Begarin is the first made by new Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens. Stevens traded away Boston’s first-round pick, No. 16. overall, in the Al Horford-Kemba Walker deal just days after taking over his new position.
The next order of business for Stevens and the Celtics is to finalize their Summer League roster, including a decision on Begarin’s status, prior to the group’s first practice Aug. 3. The team will then dive head-first into free agency, which begins Aug. 2.