Few international prospects have been more impressive than Finland's Elias Valtonen during this year's FIBA U17 World Championships. Averaging 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and two assists per game, the 6'6" shooting guard established himself as one of the premier prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft class during this tournament.
Valtonen projects as a wing that will be able to play both the two and three offensively at the next level. His smooth stroke and superior feel for the game are apparent, but what really sets him apart is his ability to hit three-pointers off the catch and pull. He is crafty with the ball in his hands, which gives him the ability to take opposing players off the dribble and hit a pull-up jumper from inside the three-point line.
However, he's more than just a perimeter player too. He has a great post-up turnaround move around that is unstoppable, and he can handle the ball with either hand. He's also solid passer as he's averaged 2 assists in 26 minutes per game, impressive given his age and skill-set.
Another way that Valtonen has been solid is on the defensive end. His quick hands on defense lead to steals and plays in transition for himself and teammates, and he plays with a lot of grit. While he still needs to add strength to his frame, he still has plenty of time to do so as he just turned 17 earlier this month.
Alongside that, his best games of the tournament came against China and Egypt. In the opening round he was able to put away China with a late barrage of three-pointers, nailing four of nine on his way to 22 points on the day. In that game he looked like the best prospect on the floor, almost like the game moved slower for him as he toyed with opposing defenders.
His finest showing came in the Classification 9-12 match-up with Egypt, where he exploded for 24 points, five rebound, and four assists on six for eleven from deep. Egypt's defenders could never keep up with Valtonen as he got to wherever he wanted on the floor and nailed most of the shots he took. Over the course of the tournament, Valtonen was an extremely efficient perimeter shooter, as he shot 40% from beyond the arc. An example of Valtonen's solid shooting stroke is shown in the clip below.
It's not clear exactly what is next for the 17 year old, but this is only the beginning for him. He is currently getting looks from both Arizona and Utah to play college basketball but playing professionally is always an option too. You can catch him in his final game of the tournament on July 2nd, as Finland takes on the Dominican Republic in the Classification 11-12 game.