Most basketball fans in Texas are familiar with at least one Argentinean basketball player -- former San Antonio Spurs great Manu Ginobili.
Get ready to know another one.
TCU recruit Francisco Farabello has the makings of becoming another Argentinian success story on the hardwood. Farabello’s father, Daniel, played with Ginobili on the Argentinian National Team and certainly passed on basketball genes to his son.
Farabello is a 4-star point guard who has been honing his basketball skills at the NBA Global Academy in Australia in recent years, and will come to TCU ready to compete for playing time immediately.
Those closest to him see similarities between his game and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova (who played at Saint Mary’s).
“Farabello is a pioneer, an icon,” said Brooks Meek, the NBA vice president of international basketball operations and head of elite basketball.
“As a young kid, he’s a great case study and we couldn’t be happier with him going to TCU and that program.
“From the NBA perspective, case studies like Farabello do so much for us when we go in and recruit other players either from Argentina or other point guards that see the success he’s had through the [NBA Global Academy’s] ‘Center of Excellence.’ Him signing at TCU is a big win for us.”
And a big win for TCU.
Farabello, who stands 6-foot-2, is one of three recruits that make up the Frogs’ No. 20-ranked recruiting class in 2019, according to 247Sports. Farabello, along with shooting guard P.J. Fuller and forward Diante Smith, are all Top 100 recruits.
Farabello will have a chance to compete for minutes as a freshman, too, with Alex Robinson in his final year and coach Jamie Dixon’s desire to play two point guards at the same time.
Farabello liked the idea of coming to a program that relies heavily on point guards -- TCU is among the country’s leaders in assists -- but also gives them freedom with the ball.
“I like how they play, the style they have,” Farabello said. “I know last year they were one of the best in the country in assists, so that’s a major reason of why I went there. Knowing that my game is more creating shots for my teammates, that was a great idea to continue my career over there.
“And I really, really liked the whole school and campus. It was amazing, beautiful. I’m really, really excited to get there and can’t wait.”
A hoops journey
Farabello intends to get to Fort Worth in May or early June to continue his basketball career. It’s been a long journey for him that’s taken him from his homeland of Argentina to Australia and, in a few months, America.
As stated, he’s familiar with the professional life growing up with his dad playing professionally in Argentina, Brazil, Italy and Spain over a 23-year career.
Daniel Farabello turned professional out of high school, something that is common for the top basketball players in Argentina. But the NBA Global Academy provides an avenue for kids such as Francisco to develop in a program that allows them to pursue college basketball opportunities in the U.S.
The NBA Global Academy launched in 2017 at the Australia Institute of Sport. AIS’ previous players include NBA players such as Dellavedova, Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills.
“Training in Argentina, we didn’t have the facilities to play at a high level,” Farabello said. “So I came here and the facilities are better and there are better athletes. The game is more physical. Of course my dream is to try and get to the NBA, so I think Australia is one of the closest basketball styles to the NBA.”
Farabello made a seamless transition from playing in Argentina to Australia. And his coach at the Academy, Marty Clarke, feels the same will hold true in Farabello’s transition to NCAA hoops.
Clarke served as an assistant on Randy Bennett’s staff at Saint Mary’s from 2013-18 before joining the NBA Global Academy on a full-time basis. He has no doubt that a respected coach such as Dixon will get the most out of Farabello.
Plus Dixon played professionally in New Zealand after his TCU days ended.
“Jamie has experience actually as a player, so he knows the two worlds,” Clarke said. “The college game is getting a bigger influence from overseas, European savvy, Australian and South America, they have good kids coming over who are great athletes.
“There has been a change in the game in some schools. Not every school takes that on, but obviously at TCU and at Saint Mary’s we did that as well.
“Farabello brings both toughness and skill. He’s got real grit and determination. TCU is a high-level school and I think he’ll lend something to that program.”
Down Under gems
Dixon and TCU have found success recruiting kids from Australia. Kouat Noi and Lat Mayen are from Australia, and so are Angus McWilliam and Yuat Alok (both of whom have entered the NCAA transfer portal).
Basketball is a universal language to a certain extent.
“I don’t think the transition is really the game,” Dixon said. “That can be a part of it, but it’s more the community, the country, the school, the academics. Every kid is different. There won’t be a language barrier, he speaks good English, so it’s just about getting him here in May and getting May, June, July under his belt before we start in the fall.
“To me, [Dellavedova] is a good comparison. Della’s strength and size was a big asset, especially at the college level. I don’t know if Francisco is quite that big, that strong, but he could over time.”
For now, Farabello is just excited to join a team that is expected to compete for NCAA Tournament berths and already has a track record of sending players to the NBA in Dixon’s short tenure.
All signs point to him developing into a household name for TCU fans and, possibly, basketball fans across the state.
“He’s just a tenacious floor leader,” Meek said. “He falls in that Argentinian lineage of just scrappy, hard, high basketball IQ, respect for his teammates. He’s just passionate. He’s going to be a fan favorite because he’s going to play so hard for Jamie and his teammates.”
Said Farabello: “I care more about winning and finding the best option in the offense that I know is going to help us win instead of my individual stats. I always try to play smart no matter what the situation is.”
Farabello added a simple message he’d send to TCU fans.
“I would tell them you should be excited for the next couple of years,” Farabello said. “The 2019 class is good with Diante Smith, P.J. Fuller and myself. For my part, I will try to represent TCU well and of course try to get to March Madness and go as far as we can.”