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With pick No. 44 in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Wizards selected Issuf Sanon, a 6’4” combo guard out of Ukraine. Sanon, only 18, currently plays in the first division of the Slovenian League after averaging 19.6 points per game in the second division. He played for Ukraine’s U18 National Team at the 2017 U18 Euros, averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 steals, and 2.7 assists per game.
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld explained the team’s decision to draft an international player who they could stash overseas. Washington chose not to use a roster spot with their second round pick, something a lot of teams will do later in the draft.
“There were some players that we liked that were picked ahead of him,” Grunfeld said after the pick. “We have 10 players under contract already and the first-round pick, so that’s 11 [players]. There’s a couple of other guys that we want to get on our roster, so we wanted to get a young, developing player.”
Sanon has a great feel for the game and can finish around the rim. The Wizards were impressed with his athleticism, motor up and down the floor, his shot, and of course his potential. The idea of keeping him overseas is similar to what the Wizards did with Tomas Satoransky, who was drafted in 2012 and did not come to the NBA until the 2016-17 season.
��He’s a good ball-handler, very competitive and a lot like Tomas,” Grunfeld said. “We drafted Tomas at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA.”
Sanon plans to join the Wizards at NBA Summer League this July, where he will be able to gain valuable playing time and see the talent pool he was drafted with. Satoransky did the same after he was picked in 2012, and the experience of just coming over to the United States is important for these young international players.
"This is a good experience for me. Summer League is a good league for experience and I hope this is good for me,” Sanon said. “I'm young and I'm learning this basketball."
Sanon told reporters he plans to come overseas on July 1. He will join first-round pick Troy Brown Jr. on the Wizards’ summer squad in what should be an intriguing Summer League roster.