After the Guards, I will talk about the wings today. It was probably the position that showed the least talent in France this summer, however several players need to be mentioned.
Danilo Andusic (1m95 – SG/SF – Serbia – 1991)
Danilo Andusic made it to my personal All-Tournament because of his very important role as bench scorer for the Serbian team. His role increased through out the tournament as he started with only 8 minutes in the opener and he finished with a tournament high 27 minutes in the Final. This shows how important Andusic was in the end in his task as long distance scorer.
Andusic is mainly a catch and shoot three point shooter. With his very quick release, he can arm his shot from all around the three point line easily. His release point is however a bit low as he does not shot really over his head. This does not take away any danger coming from him though as he fires it up even with the defense on him. The quickness of his shooting mechanics helps him to overcome this deficit.
On the negative side is of course his ball handling and penetration skills which are probably below average. You could barely ever see him drive to the basket and if he did so, it ended up mostly in a bad pass or an offensive foul. The fact of taking only 12 shooting attempts at two points underline this as those include the baskets he scored on the fast break. He is also not really an out of the dribble or coming of the screen shooter, but he moves very well without the ball in order to create himself open positions to catch the ball and shot it immediately.
He can shot the ball in series and also nail the three pointer immediately after coming from the bench. He is not afraid to take the big shots, it was him that made a ultra important three pointer in the Final to stop a French run in the decisive moments. He has to improve his ball handling and drive though but also integrate of the screen or out of the dribble shooting over the next years when he wants to develop into more than just a “catch and shoot machine”.
Stats: 13.0ppg (48.1% 3FG 26/54) 2.1rpg 18.3mpg
Evan Fournier (1m98 – SF/SG – France – 1992)
One of the youngest players of the tournament was also maybe one of the most talented scorers in Metz. Evan Fournier had an up-and-down start into the tournament as his long distance shot was not falling (1/10 during the first 5 games, 8/17 over the last 4 games) and his confidence may have been hurt. But a tremendous game in the decisive matchup with Germany (29pts at 77%) opened him and his team the way to the Silver Medal.
Fournier is a really versatile scorer. He excels of course in the open court where he can use his speed and athletic abilities but is far away from being stuck when it comes to set offense. He can attack the rim pretty well and is not afraid to go to the contact with the big guys. And he can score with the foul as he protects himself very well in the air when going for the layup. He has great skills in that area and you could see him display a multitude of difficult finishes in the paint.
Driving along the baseline with right handed dribble but finishing above the rim on a left handed finger roll or a two handed dunk after two direction changes against the the set zone defense were two of the highlights that I remember pretty well. With his ability to go to rim, he is regular visitor on the charity stripe (4.4 attempts per game) where he has however some potential to improve as he connects only 67.5% of these attempts. And there we come to his shot who looks a bit streaky right now.
As mentioned before, his three point shot does not fall right now on a regular basis. But he is still very young (he only turns 17 in October) which gives him plenty of time to adjust. Right now, he shows that he can be a threat from outside, be it on catch and shoot with defense or out of the dribble. And he can create that much with his drive, also for his team mates that this deficit is not that important . But he needs to focus on it and develop his consistency over the next years.
Stats: 12.4ppg (63% 2FG – 33.3% 3FG – 67.5% FT), 2.2rpg, 1.6spg
Mael Lebrun (1m93 – SG/SF – France – 1991)
Mael Lebrun came into the tournament injured and you could not imagine the impact he would have on the French team by the end of the tournament. Being hyper athletic, he was somehow the player that France needed to reach the next level and be a Medal team. With his game, he fitted perfectly in the group of players as they exactly missed an energizer and mid-range player like him.
Lebrun showed scoring talent nearly every where on the court. Driving to rim and finish with powerful dunks as well as three point shots are in his repertoire. But what made him specific is that he can take the jump shot from mid-range, either in catch and shoot, coming of the screen or out of the drive; a skill that not many young players have these days. His good footwork helps him to stop his drives at full speed and go up for a perfect jump shot. He can create for himself the necessary space to get the shot open or to get some space for his team mates.
His athletic and physical abilities give him the necessary background to develop into a very interesting player for the next level. His body balance and control look very promising and he is very strong on his drives. One play that I remember is a base line drive followed by a very strong one-handed dunk over a defender with staying really in the air despite a hard foul by the defense. He can use his drives also with a spin move if he recognizes the defense coming at him. The floater is also in his skill-set.
It will be really interesting to see how he develops the next years. He is a member of the French Euroleague team Orléans and he will be on the professional roster this season. His physical and talent may give him a shot as short-stretch defender or aggressive guy to get a shot or two. Of the 1991 born players of the French team, he is probably one of the most talented.
Stats: 12.0ppg (52.5% 2FG – 42.3% 3FG), 4.4rpg
Nemanja Jaramaz could have been put in the guards post but for whatever reason he landed among the wings. As Jaramaz can play every position from 1 to 3. He has a normally a good three point shot in catch and shoot fashion, even his attempts were not falling. The main force is of course his height which gives him a multitude of match advantages on this level when playing on the PG position which he sometimes does. He can use his arms to deflect some balls (nearly 2 per game) which makes him also a very interesting player on defense.
Lazar Radosavljevic is another player that created some match-up advantages for Serbia as the SF used his height pretty well when being defended by a smaller guy. He posted up some times but mainly he was an outside player. For him too, the 3pt shot was not falling which limited him somehow in his offensive production but he looked to be the better penetration player than Jaramaz. His ball handling looks also good for a player of his size and he is a good presence in the rebound with 6 boards per game.
Saulius Kulvietis was the starting PF for the Lithuanian team in most of the games despite not being an inside guy at all. Kulvietis was more of a pure out side shooter who finished the tournament with great percentages from behind the three point line (52.9%). His shot looked pretty nice but he also displayed some skills with both hands on the drive after a shot fake. He is very long with a good wingspan but pretty skinny.
Alberto Jodar did not show something brilliantly new during this tournament. His talent level is still not in doubt but on the hand, you still miss the spark that makes him outstanding. Top scorer of the Spanish team with good shot selection and an effective work in the rebound, Jodar is a great combination of size and skills for the modern wing. He can score from nearly anywhere and is a match-up nightmare for the defense due to his height and speed. He has become a pretty regular scorer right now but he did not explode in the decisive games and even had his worst statistical effort in the lost quarter-final against Turkey.
Joan Sastre was more of an unknown player to me before the tournament but now he is not anymore. In my eyes, he was probably the key guy in the Spanish team as he was among their offensive leaders, a big threat from behind the three point line and a surprisingly athletic finisher in the paint. Several times, you could see offensive set-ups for him as a backdoor alley-oop player. He can also post up shorter defenders despite being rail thin. His three point shot is a real set shot without any height on the jump but Sastre nets it in with great accuracy. Technically, he seems pretty gifted too, so he only needs to bulk up a bit to become a true ACB small forward in the next years.
Pavel Antipov really looked like highly talented guy on the Russian team. Unfortunately, he left the tournament after only three games on a virus infection. Luckily, I had the chance to see him in action against Lithuania and I must admit that I was impressed by his basketball talent. He showed great skills when using different moves in order to score in the paint. Fakes, jump hook, pivot moves, spins, all coming out of drives that look very strong and well coordinated. His jump shot looks a bit strange though as his left arm falls away a bit on every shot attempt but Antipov looked like a really nice player, at least during the game I saw from him.
Riccardo Moraschini finished the tournament on a nice game against Croatia and had an overall pretty satisfying showing in France. Moraschini has of course a less important leader role than he displayed with Virtus Bologna in the Stella Azzurra tournament but he was the main scoring option for the Italians on the wing. His three point shot was not the main thing he had to offer but his drives, especially coming of the left hand were powerful and speedy. He can finish those easily on dunk against the defense but also step at mid-range and pull up the jumper or go for a head fake to create an open under hand score.
Matthis Mönninghof was the scoring leader besides Philipp Neumann for a interestingly talented German team that was built on their 92 generation. Next to his great size for playing the SG spot (where he may end up in the future), Mönninghof has a very nice looking jump shot from behind the three point line but he also displayed a good drive where he uses his athletic abilities that are above average for a European player. He needs though to improve his ball handling but that seems not to be a problem for him in the next years. His understanding of the game seems good and his different offensive possibilities make him one of better talents for the U18 tournament of next year.
Edo Muric was the clear scoring leader of the Slovenian team and his physical presence was often unmatched at the wing on this level. He fights, takes a lot of jump shots from mid range and has also good court vision and a huge presence in rebound. Everything is there from that point of view but the question remains if that is not all coming from his above average physical abilities that once he plays on the professional level will easily be matched. Nevertheless, he looks to be very versatile as he can hit the buzzer beating three point but also enforce his defender in the low post with hook shoots.
Linos-Spyridon Chrysikopoulos is the most interesting player that Greece had to offer in this tournament as the 1992 born forward combined good height with an interesting skill level. He has good speed, can create spaces for his team mates with his court vision and ball handling but can also nail big shots.
Ondrej Kohout was not that impressive when you just take a look at his numbers. He also left the tournament after three games for unknown reasons to me but the game I saw from him impressed me with his talent level. He shows good basketball fundamentals, footwork and overall talent, but he could not impact the game anyhow with scoring which raises however some questions marks.