By Ed Odeven
HIROSHIMA — If evaluating basketball talent is your job, the FIBA World Championship is a good place to be.
International/college scout Adam Simon of the Miami Heat, who won the NBA title in June, will amass enough frequent flier miles to visit Pluto before the year is through. That’s what happens when your passport bears the stamp of African and South American nations, and you work in numerous European countries, too.
But here he was Monday, watching the Japan-Panama game at the Hiroshima Prefectural Sports Center, just one of many stops for the easygoing Floridian during a busy summer.
Simon has worked for the Heat for 12 years. Originally, he planned to become a basketball coach, but worked his way up to director of college/international scouting with the NBA squad.
At halftime, Simon spoke with The Japan Times about the World Championship and the life of an international scout.
The Japan Times: First of all, what’s the primary reason you’re attending the World Championship?
Simon: We pursue lots of guys and you don’t necessarily know when the time will come that you’ll have an opportunity to sign a player, but you still have to (keep tabs on the players). We didn’t sign anybody directly from the (2002) World Championship.
Q: But did the World Championship provide good leads down the road for your organization and others?
A: I think some of the players from the major countries you see play often, but there’s some of the players from Japan and Qatar and Angola, where you don’t get to see them as much as a player from Spain, France and Germany, and these other big countries that are easier for us to scout. And so it’s a great event for us to see the 24 top countries of the world playing in one (tournament).
Q: What’s your schedule like this week and for the remainder of worlds?
A: I was in Hamamatsu yesterday and for the first two days. I was here today and then I go to Sendai. I won’t go to Sapporo, but then I’ll go to (Saitama).
Q: Is Spain the deepest team in the tournament besides the U.S.?
A: Yeah, and Argentina as well. Spain, they are looking really tough. I would say they are one of the favorites.
Q: Do you go to an event like this to see how guys have developed, some of the other European teams perhaps?
A: Absolutely. You are looking at the younger players that are maybe breaking through. . . . There are young players that are developing, that are going to have an opportunity to play in the NBA. This is a great opportunity to see all the players and have a grasp on everybody. [Simon declined to give specific names during this interview.]
Q: How would you compare the Japan National Team now with four years ago?
A: They look like they just need some more experience, some more height inside. . . . But their speed is phenomenal, they are very quick. And the country seems to love basketball and baseball and golf. They like their sports. I think it’s possible that with more development and with more trust in the future they can become better, sure.
NOTEWORTHY: Simon will soon get a chance to try his hand at coaching. He’s been selected by the NBA as one of the coaches at the Basketball Without Borders camp in South Africa from Sept. 6-10. The camp will be held in Johannesburg.