WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics turned heads on draft night when they used two of their three, first-round picks on international players that they ultimately decided to stash overseas for at least a year.
There’s no way of telling how they will fare if they in fact eventually make their way stateside to the NBA, but both Guershon Yabusele and Ante Zizic had promising debuts over the weekend.
Zizic, selected by Boston with the 23rd overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, had 17 points, 7 rebounds and two blocked shots on Sunday playing with Croatian club team KK Cibona.
And on Sunday, Yabusele, selected with the 16th overall selection in last June’s draft, had a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds while playing with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanghai Sharks.
The Sharks are owned by former NBA legend and Hall of Fame center Yao Ming whose former NBA team, Houston, thrashed his Sharks squad 131-94.
The Celtics were leaning towards stashing the 6-foot-11 Zizic leading up to the draft, but Yabusele was a much tougher call for them to make.
The burly Frenchman had a solid showing with the Celtics’ summer league team in Salt Lake City.
After a rough first game, Yabusele bounced back with a near double-double of 13 points and eight rebounds in helping Boston knock off the host team Utah, 89-82.
Assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry said Yabusele’s struggles in the first game had more to do with not being put in the right position to do well.
“I got Twitter, too,” Shrewsberry, who coached the summer league team in Salt Lake City, told reporters at that time. “I read it. People say he (Yabusele) didn’t play very well the first game. Part of that is, we didn’t call his number too much. It’s not because of him.”
Yabusele had a similar situation play out in the loss to Houston on Sunday, as teammate and former first round pick Jimmer Fredette kept chucking one shot after another while playing some EZ Pass defense at the other end of the floor.
A 6-8, 270-pound forward with surprisingly nimble feet, Yabusele did most of his scoring damage in the second half when the game was well out of reach and the players on the floor for the Rockets had little success in trying to limit him.
It wasn’t all that surprising a performance for Yabusele who will be given serious consideration as a player the Celtics will bring over next season.
Having him in camp this season didn’t make a lot of sense for all involved.
The Celtics want to see him develop and that just wasn’t going to happen on a roster that doesn’t have a clear path towards playing time now. And to have him in the Development League all season, that didn’t make a lot of sense either.
By having him play overseas in the CBA, Yabusele will get a chance to continue enhancing his game as the Celtics look on to monitor his progress.