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Daniel Batcho, top European big man going to college, commits to Arizona

Top international basketball prospect Daniel Batcho has committed to Arizona, he told ESPN on Thursday.

"I had a good connection with the coaching staff," Batcho told ESPN. "They really understood my priorities and showed me how I could reach my goals at the university."

The French-born Batcho, 18, is considered the top European big man committing to the college route. He ranked second in Player Efficiency Rating at the U16 European Championship in 2018, behind only projected top-five 2021 NBA draft pick Usman Garuba from Spain. Batcho tore his ACL less than a minute into the quarterfinals of that tournament, which prevented him from playing a single game in the 2018-2019 season.

Batcho needed time to work his way back into form but had terrific outings in February at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament Belgrade, winning MVP honors after an impressive 24-point, 15-rebound, 3-block performance in the final against Partizan.

"I was honored to be named MVP at ANGT Belgrade, but I wanted us to win the tournament," Batcho said. "It was a bittersweet feeling."

Batcho had some productive outings this season in the competitive French third division playing against men with overmatched CFBB -- an Academy team in Paris that features much of France's young talent, historically -- which bodes well for his transition to the college game. He posted 21 points and 11 rebounds against the top team in the league, Chartes (23-3), in November. Even the top NBA prospects in France typically fare much worse in the third division than he did as an 18-year-old, a promising sign for his future.

Batcho was considered the top graduating player from the Parisian Academy and would have had his pick of teams in French professional basketball.

"It's always difficult to make this kind of decision, but I wanted to have the opportunity to play right away and have a big impact," Batcho said. "I also wanted to get physically ready and adjust to an up-tempo style of play that will help me make the transition to the next level."

Batcho joins an Arizona team that lost seven of its top eight players and 85% of its scoring from last season, making him a key commitment in its rebuilding efforts. At 6-foot-10 and 225 pounds, Batcho is a physical player and excellent rebounder who is able to play both power forward and center. He does most of his damage around the basket, where he embraces contact and has a soft touch and reliable hands that allow him to catch everything thrown his way. His team in France ran quite a bit of offense through him, as he is a good passer and decision-maker for a big man.

"I expect to be a leader, but I know that I will have to earn my stripes first," Batcho told ESPN. "It was good to see that Arizona has had success with international players in the past. That shows they have a global understanding of the game that goes beyond the U.S. boundaries. I definitely want to keep this tradition and have success there myself."

Batcho is the third international commitment Arizona coach Sean Miller has signed in the 2020 recruiting class, along with Haitian Canadian wing Ben Mathurin from the NBA Academy Latin America and Estonian point guard Kerr Kriisa from Lithuanian team Zalgiris.