Fran Fraschilla tracks the NBA Draft’s international men of mystery

Fran Fraschilla at the 2013 NBA Draft (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
File photo: Fran Fraschilla at the 2013 NBA Draft (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Fran Fraschilla, one of ESPN’s top men’s college basketball game and studio analysts, also works on ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage, specializing in international players.

“What I bring to the process is 30-plus years of experience and an ‘educated eye’ for spotting potential,” Fraschilla said. “I evaluate new talent against the capabilities of an NBA player.”

Before tonight’s NBA Draft (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), Fraschilla spoke with Front Row about scouting talent on a global scale.

How did you get started with the international game?
My analyst career started while coaching at Manhattan College. Jeronimo Bucero, a player from Madrid, Spain, taught us as much about his culture as we taught him about basketball.

What’s it like advocating non-US talent alongside fellow ESPN analysts?
I have a unique niche. I educate fans and colleagues about international players. We have many good people covering the draft. Chad Ford is well-connected. Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman are great reporters. Jay Bilas has incredible insights. Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons follow the NBA 365 [days a year], and Tom Penn has great insight to coaches and owners. Together our coverage team has the NBA Draft completely blanketed.

What are the challenges scouting outside the U.S.?
I don’t get overseas as much as people think. I make 2-3 trips annually. I attend the NBA camp in Treviso, Italy and the FIBA Championships. A big asset to my search is Synergy Sports Technology. They record NBA, college and international games and I spend a lot of time “watching tape.”

What is the best part about being an international analyst?
I enjoy informing fans about “mystery players.” For example, Walter Tavares never picked up a basketball until he was 18. He’s now 22, 7-foot-3, weighs 265 pounds. He’s from Cape Verde Island and most people have never heard of him. He will go late first or early second round this year.

ESPN will exclusively televise the 2014 NBA Draft presented by State Farm tonight at 7 p.m. ET. It marks the 12th consecutive year ESPN has televised the event and the second straight time from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Rece Davis will host coverage from the ESPN main set with ESPN college basketball Insider Jay Bilas and ESPN NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons.

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