TREVISO, Italy The date was May 5, 2002. The Euroleague Final Four was in Bologna, Italy. I was making my first trip abroad to do a story on a feisty, young Argentinean shooting guard named Emanuel Ginobili and his backcourt mate, a young Serbian point guard named Marko Jaric. Both players had been second-round picks Ginobili to the Spurs (at No. 57 in 1999) and Jaric to the Clippers (at No. 30 in 2000) and were leaning strongly toward heading to the NBA after spending several seasons in Europe. Ginobili was an enigma back then to NBA scouts. His whirling-dervish act won him fans wherever he played in Europe, but how would such an unorthodox game translate in the NBA? Scouts in attendance weren't sure he was quick enough to get the shots he got in Europe. They were concerned that his thin body would break down with the more physical game in America. They worried about his jump shot. His defense. His temper. Most of all, they just weren't sure who he was. After the Final Four, most of those scouts and GMs traveled to Treviso to see a young kid in Benetton, Italy, who didn't even get in the game in Bologna Nikoloz Tskitishvili. Everyone was in Europe that year looking for the next Dirk Nowitzki and Tskitishvili was to be that player. Tskitishvili, a native of Georgia and a former ballet dancer, even played like Nowitzki, according to his former coach, Mike D'Antoni (now head coach of the Phoenix Suns). Ginobili, on the other hand, came with no ready-made comparisons. No one had seen anything like him. He scared them. Scared Gregg Popovich the first time he had to coach him. Three years later, Tskitishvili is on the slow boat back to his native Georgia. Ginobili? Well on his way to winning MVP of the NBA Finals. Have NBA scouts learned their lesson? The Reebok Eurocamp is underway in Treviso. In the gym are 60 of the top prospects in Europe, plying their wares for the NBA crowd. Almost every team in the NBA has a scout or GM here. Agents are crowded into bleachers in the corner. The Reebok camp has become to international scouting what the Nike and ABDC camps have been to high school scouting. It's a must-see stop on every good scout's itinerary as he attempts to untangle the scrum of high school, international and college players in the draft. This year, all eyes are on a young Croatian point guard named Roko Ukic. Ukic is a player who's familiar to most Insider readers. The feisty guard entered the draft last year after a stellar season playing for Split, shut down Sebastian Telfair at the Nike Hoop Summit, won MVP honors at the 2004 Reebok Eurocamp and played to rave reviews at a league-wide workout at the Chicago predraft camp. He's a big kid, but he's all point guard. He has great energy, ball handling, quickness, work ethic and athleticism for a point guard that size. He's great in the transition game. His defense has really improved. Still, despite the accolades and the upside, he wasn't able to secure a first-round promise. Discouraged, he pulled out of last year's draft and went back to Croatia to work on his game. Ukic wasn't a perfect prospect. His body was thin, he lacked a long-range jumper and he too often played a little out of control. "I heard what the NBA people were saying to me," Ukic said. "I knew I needed to improve. I follow the draft very closely. I know all of the prospects. I saw what they did well and then tried to fix the areas of my game. This was a dream of mine since I was 4 years old. I thought with hard work I could be ready this year." While most of last year's campers, including Martynas Andriuskevicius, Johan Petro, Marko Tomas and Yaroslav Korolev, skipped this year's Eurocamp, Ukic returned. To make a point. "I wanted those same guys to see what I've done," Ukic said. "I wanted them to see how hard I worked. I was in the gym many hours working on my 3-point shot. I worked on keeping my turnovers down and I even lifted weights." The results? Outstanding. Ukic had a stellar season for a 20-year-old, averaging 18.5 ppg, 4.3 apg and 1.9 spg for the year. That was a big improvement from his 15.4 ppg and 2.8 apg from 2004. His turnovers were down. His weight was up more than 30 pounds, from 185 to 218. He even grew an inch, now measuring 6-foot-6 in shoes. By the time Ukic hit the floor on Monday, he was a different player. And he did whatever he wanted in the exhibition game versus the Italian under-21 national team. Ukic darted around the floor making brilliant no-look passes. His stronger body made him a better finisher in the lane. Last year, he kissed the ball off the glass. This year, he finished with several heart-thumping dunks. His 3-point shot looked smoother. More confidence. More mature decision making. More to prove. More on the line. Even more of a leader. After he bounced several amazing passes off his teammates' chests, Ukic spoke up in the huddle before his coach had a chance. "Just be ready," Ukic implored his teammates, all All-Stars from the camp. "The pass is coming. Keep your hands ready. Don't worry about me. Just assume that it's coming." When the game ended, Ukic had 16 points and three assists (he could have had seven if his teammates caught the ball) in 24 minutes. And in addition to the good numbers, Ukic finally got his comparison. "He reminds me a lot of Ginobili," one NBA assistant GM said. "I'm not talking about position he's a pure point guard but in how he approaches the game. He's brilliant. He's always in attack mode. He's starting and stopping and changing directions. He's almost impossible to keep up with." "I think a lot of people were scared of how Ginobili played when he came here. The same is true of this kid. His game is so different, and I think it's just taken us awhile to get comfortable with it. Seeing Ginobili dominate in the playoffs this year doesn't hurt." Given Ginobili's sudden rise in stature, and because they play different positions and have different games, the comparisons may not be entirely apt. But what they're games do have in common is unconventional styles that require a little imagination to project to the NBA. Ukic is just relieved to be here. He came down with a bad case of the flu on Sunday and thought his moment was going to end prematurely. But he felt better Monday morning and decided to give it a go. "I was scared when I got sick," Ukic said. "I know it was a risk to come here. I could play poorly and people would say bad things. But good players try to be good all the time. They aren't afraid to fail. My game is still not at the level I want it to be, but it was important to come here and show the NBA that I'm the type of player who listens and improves." The NBA took notice. Monday night, as GMs and scouts gathered in the lobby of the local hotel, Ukic had the buzz. His improvement from last year was too good to ignore. In a draft already filled with three great point guard prospects, it looks like we'll have to add a fourth. Of the scouts and GMs that Insider talked to, more than half had him ranked as the fourth best point guard in the draft, behind Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Raymond Felton. Two even had him ahead of Felton. The rest all had him ranked fifth behind Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack. Everyone in the room thought he was a legit first round pick and the best international point guard prospect to come along since Tony Parker. Now Ukic's challenge is convincing NBA teams to believe in him enough to call his name on June 28. In the past teams have shied away from taking international point guards early. Parker was the 29th pick. Jaric was a second rounder. Ukic has the right to withdraw from the draft, but says it's unlikely that he'll do so. Nearly every team here asked his agent, SFX's David Bauman, for a private workout tomorrow. Ukic has agreed, but he can't understand why teams want to see him in drills. "I'm a point guard, that's why I came here," Ukic said. "I played nearly 70 games this year and I came in and played in front of them. I'm a five-on-five player. You can't judge me just by seeing drills." Ukic already has a list of teams that he thinks he can help. "I read everything about the NBA," Ukic said. "I think Toronto could use a point guard like me, don't you think? Boston has Delonte West, but I think because of my size, we could play together in the backcourt. "And I'd love to play in Phoenix. I love the way they play. If I could back-up Steve Nash for 15 minutes a night and get to throw lobs to their bigs, I'd be so happy. I really want to go to a team that will let me push the ball up the floor." If GMs, head coaches, and owners can get comfortable with him, they way they finally made peace with Manu, maybe Ukic's improvement won't have been in vain and the ghost of Skita can be laid to rest on the same court it was born.