PORTLAND, Ore. – Switzerland could soon land its second player in the NBA.
Clint Capela is expected to announce next week he's entering this year's NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports. He's projected to be a first-round pick and would join Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha in representing the Swiss in the league.
"I'll be happy when he gets to the NBA," Sefolosha said of Capela, who is participating for the World Team in this week's Hoop Summit. "I won't be the only one anymore. It will be real cool for basketball in Switzerland."
Sefolosha was selected with the 13th overall pick in 2006 NBA draft. He was the first player from Switzerland to be drafted and play in the NBA. Switzerland's national basketball team has only participated in the Olympics twice with the last appearance in 1948. Swiss basketball officials had hoped that Sefolosha's arrival to the NBA would spark interest in the game.
Capela, 19, wasn't well-known about 16 months ago. The Geneva native's parents are from Angola and the Congo. Capela first came on the scene as a member of the Swiss national team in the 2013 Eurobasket tournament.
"A year ago no one was talking about me and now every day I see news about me," Capela said. "Sometimes, it's strange for me. But I try to stay focused and continue to work hard."
At 6-foot-11, 222 pounds, Capela attracted NBA attention with his play on the highest professional level in France while playing for Chalon-Sur-Saone. He's starting for Chalon and averaging 9.1 points, seven rebounds and 1.8 blocks at just 19 years old. Along with Saturday's game, NBA scouts are seeing him play during the World Team's practices this week.
"I know he is not polished yet, but he is really athletic and really long," said Sefolosha, who played for Chalon from 2002-05. "He can't do too much offensively, but he can offensive rebound and do things close to the rim right now. He has a great body and a pretty good motor."
DraftExpress.com has Capela ranked as the 13th-best prospect in this year's draft. Several scouts told Yahoo Sports they project him as a first-round prospect in the Nos. 20-30 range, but he could improve his standing at the Hoop Summit.
One NBA scout said Capela's body and game reminded him of Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders. But several scouts also cautioned that Capela is raw, has a poor jumper and needs to gain strength.
"I don't know if I've seen a guy that size that can get up in the air that quickly," one NBA scout said. "Great length. Good hands. He made some difficult catches. He's very raw, but he has a lot to work with. He can't shoot and needs to be more vocal.
"But you just don't find a lot of guys with that size with a quick twitch, quick second jump, great length and runs well. He definitely has a high ceiling."
Capela said it will cost an NBA team $500,000 to get him out of his French contract.
"I just want to focus on my season and I don't want to think too far about an announcement," Capela said. "I think like that because it's really important for me to finish good to show to everybody that I can stay focused on every game and my team and not dreaming."
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