Every year, COVID permitting, Sean Marks heads overseas to check out NBA Draft prospects, usually visiting European capitals to scout top international prospects. But this season, Marks is going far afield.
Reports from Down Under indicate that Marks has twice scouted an 18-year-old French point guard, 6’7” Rayan Rupert, watching him and his New Zealand Breakers play first in Brisbane, Australia, Thursday, then Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand (Marks’ hometown). Marks was accompanied on the trip Down Under by the Nets director of player evaluation, B.J. Johnson. (Marks friend and former teammate Shawn Marion is head coach of the Breakers.)
According to NZ Stuff game report:
Marks is keen to look closely at the Breakers’ French import Rayan Rupert, who is expected to be selected in midway through the first round of this year’s NBA draft, and he also went to see him in the Breakers’ win in Brisbane on Thursday.
And Rupert played well, scoring 12 points and putting on a show for the scouts in the arena which included other teams as well as the Nets...
With NBA scouts courtside #UNBREAKABLE pic.twitter.com/wkMIt3CHmi— Sky Sport New Zealand Breakers (@NZBreakers) January 28, 2023
Best game of the season for 18-year old French wing Rayan Rupert in front of a bunch of NBA scouts as his New Zealand Breakers clinched a playoff berth in the Australian NBL. Showed some impressive shot-creation chops and played his usual lockdown defense with his 7'3 wingspan. pic.twitter.com/lSEv0Vydv3— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) January 30, 2023
Marks, in fact, was photographed Saturday night (New Zealand time) at courtside with Johnson nearby.
...and spoke about the need to scout “every nook and cranny” for NBA talent...
We've got @TallBlacks royalty in the house tonight! @BrooklynNets GM Sean Marks gave his thoughts on the development of the NBL and NBA pathways at half-time pic.twitter.com/IzfJ4XKhFy— NBL (@NBL) January 28, 2023
Rupert has been a member of the French national U16 and U18 team and has played for the Breakers, part of Australia’s National Basketball League, this season after playing for Paris INSEP which has produced a number of NBA players, most notably the Spurs Tony Parker. He is likely to be a member of the French Olympic team along with top draft prospect Victor Wembanyama in 2024. The Olympics will be played in Paris.
Here’s some video highlights of him from last year’s FIBA U18 European championships...
Sports Illustrated had this to say of him recently...
Rupert has the ability to play guard or wing. He stands at 6-foot-7 with a 7-3 wingspan, which is tremendous length. He’s also one of the younger prospects in this upcoming class, as he won’t turn 19 until right before the 2023 NBA Draft.
While SI calls his jump shot a work in progress, Rupert is seen as a NBA-level defender.
Overall, the French phenom projects to be an excellent defender at the next level. He’s got shot blocking upside and already is disruptive in passing lanes. He generates a ton of steals with his massive wingspan and has natural feel on that end of the floor.
Rupert has been mocked everywhere from No. 8 to No. 21 in the upcoming draft. The Nets have the No. 25 pick.
With the NBA trade deadline just 12 days away, should the GM of an NBA team be nearly 10,000 miles and 13 time zones away? Depends. Marks No. 2, Jeff Peterson, like a lot of assistant GMs, is often directly involved in trade talks and even with Marks so far away from Brooklyn, it can work, communications being what they are. Also, great distances and extreme time differences are nothing new for the Nets. Joe Tsai, who needs to sign off on big deals, is often multiple time zones removed from Brooklyn. (Clara Wu Tsai in fact was in Istanbul, Turkey, two days ago recruiting Breanna Stewart for the Liberty.)
If Marks was looking at the scouting trip as a working vacation in his home country, it didn’t exactly work out. Auckland is experiencing record rainfall this week. The game he attended was one of the few events not cancelled Saturday.