In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse,’ Pro Insight’s Ignacio Rissotto recaps the 2021 FIBA U17 Centrobasket Championship by highlighting 10 standout prospects:
Earlier this month, eight different national teams from Central America were in attendance in Mexicali, Mexico for the 2021 FIBA U17 Centrobasket Championship. The competition resulted in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Dominican Republic punching their tickets for the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship, a tournament that is scheduled to be held in June of next year.
Here is an overview of 10 different standouts from the event, as well as their projections to the next level of competition and some additional names to watch for during the next few years.
Jamaica | 6’4” Guard | Norcross (GA) | 2023
Stats: 36 PPG, 9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 4.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG on 57.8% FG, 46.7% 3P, 87.5% FT in 35.7 MPG
Johnson had an incredible tournament in terms of productivity and overall impact, showing why he is one of the top-rated guards in the 2023 high school class. When it comes to scoring, not only was Johnson incredibly productive but he was also tremendously efficient, finishing the tournament with an impressive 69.4 TS%. Johnson proved to be nearly impossible to contain for opposing defenders, as he was able to get in the lane at will, using his fluidity and body control to navigate through traffic and his combination of length and elite touch to finish tough layups and floaters.
Johnson was also efficient from range, showing the touch and mechanics to project him as a versatile shooter at the next level. Passing came second to him in the tournament, but he was able to take advantage of his scoring gravity to find open teammates on the move. Defensively, he showed the size and length to defend both guard positions and to make an impact in the passing lanes, despite some moments of indifference in one-on-one defense which was understandable given the offensive load he carried for Jamaica.
Puerto Rico | 6’4” Wing | NBA Academy Latin America | 2023
Stats: 12.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1 SPG, 0.2 BPG on 40.7% FG, 46.4% 3P, 42.9% FT in 27.1 MPG
Rivera stood out in the tournament due to his ability to pass on the move, shoot off the catch but especially due to his driving ability, as he was able to use his fluid and tight handles to find his way to the rim and his finishing versatility to convert tough opportunities in the paint. Rivera projects to be an impactful and versatile two-guard at the D1 level who can create advantages off the bounce, space the floor and run some half-court offense.
Edwin Daniel Linares
Dominican Republic | 6’9” Forward | Putnam Science Academy (CT) | 2023
Stats: 11.2 PPG, 14.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 3.0 BPG on 42.3% FG, 28.6% 3P, 41.7% FT in 23.5 MPG
The tournament leader in blocks and rebounds, Linares was a defensive force on the interior, as he was able to use his size, length and defensive awareness to protect the rim. His improving perimeter skillset, however, might’ve been even more impressive. Linares’ combination of size, length, coordination and ball-handling allowed him to exploit mismatches on the perimeter and create drives to the rim. Linares is more fluid and coordinated than explosive as an athlete, which made him struggle with efficiency at the rim during a number of games.
He currently holds a couple D1 offers, though one might expect that number to increase rapidly as Linares was one of the breakout players in attendance. Some areas of his skillset (interior efficiency, shooting consistency) are still a few years away, but a 6’9” forward who can rebound, protect the rim and has dribbling, passing and shooting in his arsenal could be an intriguing bet for a team patient enough to develop him.
México | 6’4” Guard | NBA Academy Latin America | 2022
Stats: 22.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.2 BPG on 53.7% FG, 45.5% 3P, 80% FT in 23.8 MPG
Camacho led Mexico’s silver-medal run with his polished scoring ability. Despite not being extremely quick or explosive, he was able to get in the lane and use his elite touch to finish tough floaters and layups in the paint. His calling card was, however, his shooting, where he showed fluid and repeatable mechanics that allowed him to convert both catch-and-shoot and pull-up jumpers against all types of pressure.
His combination of shooting ability, secondary playmaking abilities in the half-court and appropriate size for a two-guard should put him firmly in D1 radars, even when considering his limitations in terms of quickness and vertical explosiveness.
Puerto Rico | 6’9” Big | PSAT Academy (TX) | 2025
Stats: 12.8 PPG, 9 RPG, 3 APG, 2 SPG, 2.6 BPG on 49.1% FG, 60% FT in 26.2 MPG
Prior to this tournament, Aviles had been picking up high major offers, a trend that will continue in the next few years as he proved to be one of the best long-term prospects in the tournament, being able to make an impact for Puerto Rico despite playing two years up in age. Standing at 6’9” with a plus-standing reach, Aviles was able to use his tools to be a factor in the paint, protect the rim, make an impact as a rebounder on both ends of the floor and show flashes of footwork and touch to self-create in the post.
His flashes of perimeter game were intriguing; he should be able to build upon a solid mechanical foundation to extend his shooting beyond the mid-range and he was able to attack smaller opponents in the perimeter by putting a body and creating space on his way to the rim.
Jamaica | 6’2” Guard | Eduprize Prep (AZ) | 2025
Stats: 16.6 PPG, 2 RPG, 2.8 APG, 3.6 SPG on 43.4% FG, 29.4% 3P, 58.3% FT in 27.7 MPG
Playing three years up in age, McDonald was one of the youngest players in attendance, but this didn’t deter him from making an impact, as he was the perfect complement for London Johnson on the Jamaican squad as a secondary scorer. McDonald showed moments of off-ball scoring, being versatile to shoot off the catch and attack defenders in closeouts and favorable matchups, while also providing secondary value as a passer and as an off-ball defender.
Given the impact he was able to make at his young age (turned 14 years old in February), it’s easy to see McDonald developing into a versatile guard that could make an impact at a high major program down the line.
México | 6’2” Guard | 2024
Stats: 13.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG on 50% FG, 50% 3P, 66.7% FT in 17.6 MPG
After his performance in this year’s FIBA U16 Americas tournament, Soqui was being touted as one of the best shooters in his international class. In this tournament, he proved to be more than worthy of his reputation by shooting 50% from beyond the arc on 7.2 attempts per game. Soqui has the compact mechanics, decisiveness and confidence to shoot against pressure and the versatility to convert three-pointers in different situations.
Still 15 years old, Soqui was relegated to mostly off-ball duties for México but he thrived in that role of floor-spacer and ball-mover. He was also able to contribute defensively thanks to his long arms, which allowed him to create defensive events. Soqui projects really well as a high-level three-and-D prospect that could become infinitely more valuable if he continues to develop his on-ball skills or if he grows to be able to defend some wings full time.
Puerto Rico | 6’7” Forward | Dade Christian (FL) | 2022
Stats: 13.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG on 55.6% FG, 43.8% 3P, 58.3% FT in 23.8 MPG
Ortiz was a two-level scoring threat for Puerto Rico, showing tremendous potential as a shooter off the catch while also being able to impose himself physically as an interior scorer. Lacking elite explosiveness and quickness, Ortiz projects as a role player at the D1 level that can offer physical toughness and floor-spacing.
El Salvador | Guard | Hillcrest (CA) | 2024
Stats: 10.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.8 SPG on 31.5% FG, 37.5% 3P, 69.2% FT in 29.5 MPG
Playing two years up in age, Sibrian was the floor general and de facto leader of one of the most talented El Salvador squads we’ve seen in years. Sibrian has some limitations in terms of size and explosiveness, but plays with an impressive amount of control, toughness and touch both around the basket and from beyond the three-point line, all of which makes him an interesting point guard prospect to keep on the radar.
México | 6’5” Wing | Zentro Basket Madrid (Spain)
Stats: 13.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 8.4 APG, 3.6 SPG, 1 BPG on 51% FG, 23.1% 3P, 81.2% FT in 27 MPG
Valdes doesn’t play with an extraordinary amount of quickness or explosiveness, but it was difficult to find a player with his combination of strength, fluidity and smoothness in the tournament. Valdes led the competition in assists, being able to find teammates time and time again with solid pick-and-roll executions and with reactive kick-out passes on drives. His lack of elite athleticism will be a limitation for him at the next level, it certainly was at times during this tournament, but he has a special enough combination of strength, fluidity and passing ability to make an impact as a plus-size initiator at the professional level.
Other names to watch:
Junior Galicia (Dominican Republic | Olimpia Milano (Italy)
Davian Gonzalez (Puerto Rico | Fountain Christian Bilingual (PR) | 2024)
Humberto Kentish (Panama | Dragones Don Bosco (Panama)
Yeison Liberato (Dominican Republic | Club Montaño (Dominican Republic)
Daniels Machore (Panama | Grenald Academy (Panama)
Andres Mora (Costa Rica | Tri-City Christian (AZ) | 2023)
Nasir Muhammad (Dominican Republic | Xaverian (NY) | 2023)