The Reebok Eurocamp begins its sixth annual camp this Friday in Treviso, Italy. I sat down with the director of the camp, Pete Philo, for a little insight on what's happening. Philo, in addition to his duties with the camp, is an international scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ford: What was the original idea behind the Eurocamp?
Philo: The original idea behind the Reebok Eurocamp was to give the international players one platform to showcase their talents on European soil against all of the best prospects in their age group. It is in Treviso, Italy for a few reasons: 1) Maurizio Gherardini. He was the GM of Benetton who was very open-minded to this idea and plan. He was one guy who always opened his doors to the NBA people; 2) Benetton has a campus that is perfect for an event such as this. They have high-quality courts, restaurants, dorm rooms, a pool, a fitness center, and a great hotel all on one campus; and 3) The gym is a very cozy area for scouting purposes. We place all of our scouts/GMs courtside which enables them to get accurate evaluations of speed, size, etc.
Ford: Philosophically, how is this different from the Chicago pre-draft combine?
Philo: Very simple. The Chicago combine is a combine of drill work and vitals only. At the Eurocamp we incorporate the combine style of drills and vitals as well as full-court games, competitive transition drills and all-star games. Also, this camp gives NBA teams the opportunity to obtain extensive coverage of many of the top international prospects at one location. For an NBA team to see this many players, from many corners of the world, it would take 12-15 trips at great length. However, both camps are very valuable in the pre-draft schedule of events.
Ford: There seems to be an art to international scouting. Some teams really get it. Some don't.
Philo: In my experience, relationships are the key. The more people you know -- from coaches, to GMs, to league officials overseas -- the more access you get to practice, and critical information about the players.
Ford: Given the historic weakness of so many teams when it comes to international scouting, do you think there's a market for an international scouting service that just gives the information, for a fee, to NBA teams that subscribe?
Philo: Obviously, having an international scouting department would be the most beneficial way to cover all international prospects. However, due to the tough economic times, that might become an increasingly viable option for some teams to fulfill their international scouting needs.
Ford: Do you think that the international talent is drying up? In 2003, nine international players were taken in the first round. This year there might only be one.