Before analyzing the best prospects from the Top 8 teams; teams that I have seen at least twice during the tournament; I wanted to give a quick recap on several players from the teams that finished in the Bottom 8 and that I could only see once. So these scouting reports remain quite short and not every aspect of the game of the players is mentioned. Additionally, I eventually missed out several players because of poor games, injuries or other reasons that kept them from having an impact in that specific game.
Emmett Naar was playing Point Guard for the Australian team. He showed a nice first step when attacking on his weaker left hand where he regularly could score from close. With his excellent wingspan, he was able to create also difficult scoop shots and score the layup against taller players. His ball handling was correct and he scored also from the jump shot after a crossover dribble. He is the typical high energy player on the defensive end where he puts a lot of pressure on the ball handler. Not very large, he might struggle if he has to play against physically stronger players on the defensive end. His jump shot is not very fluid or quick so that he has some problems to take it against the man. But in general, he looks like an interesting player to follow over the next years, even if he is not a particularly creative for his team mates.
Dane Pineau was the second force of the Australian team. The 2m03 tall forward from Melbourne averaged 11.7ppg and 9.0rpg in the tournament. The very lanky and energetic player did not really show a lot of technical finesse but knew how to use his skills and possibilities to be effective. Most of his moves looked very mechanical and his foot work is at least improvable. However, he managed to beat his opponents on the drive and score against them with some difficult moves like running hook shots or up and under plays. He can post up smaller defenders and is also capable of netting the occasional three-point or mid-range jump shot. His high-energy presence on the defensive end was another important asset that he had to offer but he might be a bit too limited technically to be considered as a top level prospect.
Yaniv Solomon was the statistical leader of the Israeli team. The 1994 born forward from Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion showed good drives to the basket where he was able to finish against the defense. But next to that, he was also capable of netting the three-point shot with good regularity as his shooting mechanics looked well developed. Physically strong, Solomon has also good athletic basics which allow him to finish plays with two-handed dunks and be a big factor in rebounding and shot blocking. Limited by his size to play the inside positions, Solomon was often used as a Small forward which should be his future position as well.
Rafael Menco was the vocal leader of the Israeli team and doing the dirty work for his team. Averaging by far the most minutes for Israel (more than 31 per game) and having only a –0.2 +/- for a team averaging defeats by more than 9 points underlines his importance to the team. Basically, Israel lost their games in the 9 minutes when Menco was on the bench. Physically strong and very versatile, Menco played a role of Point Forward creating a lot for himself but also finding his team mates. He needs to become more stable from behind the line and improve his shoot selection (38.3% FGs) in the future to become a factor on the professional level.
Idan Zalmanson showed some interesting stuff in the few minutes I was able to see him. Looking very big and even a little overweight, Zalmanson had an excellent shooting touch as he was able to knock down several difficult jump shots out of the low post situation or after a Pick and Roll. Clearly not the most explosive guy around, Zalmanson was mainly using his technique to finish around the key. He struggled to score from very close against defense as he is not very athletic or able to use his strength in the right way. If Zalmanson can develop his body in the right way, he will certainly be an important factor for Israel in the future because of his size and overall potential.
Daniel Sealine was the main scoring threat from Israel in the backcourt. Mainly driving to the basket despite his limited size, Sealine showed that he can finish in traffic or even against taller players because of a good athletic package and hangtime skills. Not very effective from the three-point area or creative, Sealine looks a bit undersized to play Shooting Guard at the highest level. His scoring skills will however be a good asset for the different Israeli Youth National Teams over the next years but his long term potential is a bit questionable if he can not develop a more PG oriented game.
Zhou Qi showed tremendous potential in the limited minutes he was on the court when I was seeing a game of China. First of all, he is 2m15 tall and born in 1996 which gives him even a bit of potential growing in the next years (despite the usual Chinese birthday doubts) as he looks very skinny and not fully mature in his body development. His shooting mechanics are very fluid and guard-like and he is able to score the jumper from mid-range in both catch-and-shoot and dribble situations. He even was able to adjust his jump shot to a perfect form out of the dribble after being severely hit on his arm. Qi is not very fast (he is fast for a 2m15 tall player but not guard-fast) or explosive though which makes him finish a lot more with technique than force around the basket.
He tries to score with both hands when he is within a few meters of the basket but was not successful using his left hand in the attempts he made when I was there. Overall, his game remains though very naïve and immature especially on defense where he got called for a lot of cheap fouls. He rebounds the ball well because of his size and has excellent timing for blocking shots. All this makes Zhou Qi one of the most promising prospects overall of the tournament knowing that he was two years younger than the rest. He is definitely one of the players to follow in the future and he will certainly have a huge impact during the upcoming U17 World Championships this summer.
Ludvig “Ludde” Hakanson was another 96 born prospect that showcased his skills during the Albert Schweitzer Tournament 2012 and is theoretically still eligible for the next edition in two years. The Barcelona guard was the vocal leader of the team and showed great shooting skills from behind the arc. He controlled the game speed very well for such a young player and made several clutch decisions in the right way. Physically, he is already pretty strong for a 1996 born and he showed good decision making skills but he has of course still to learn whom to give the ball in which situation. Additionally, he rebounded the ball well and was able to initiate immediately the fast break where he mostly looked for his own scoring possibilities first. Overall, Hakanson is an excellent potential to develop into a future high-level scoring point guard.
Niklas Larsson is a long combo-guard who played a nice tournament for the Swedish National team. Moving very fluidly, Larsson can score from behind the arc or from mid-range areas but lacks a bit of physique and explosiveness to make the baskets from close with defense on him. He even avoids using his left hand for the finish preferring more difficult moves with his right hand instead. Larsson is able to run the Point during stretches as he can find his team mates out of the drives with good dishes or kick outs. He needs though to become stronger but he has the potential to develop into a player that is able to play professionally down the road.
Lukas Bergäng is another highly interesting prospect coming from Sweden. The 1995 born and 2m10 tall forward plays currently for Casale Monferrato in Italy and he showed in Mannheim why the Italian team has recruited him. He is really long and mobile on the court, can take the jump shot out of the dribbling situation and rebounds the ball very well. Physically, there is still a long way to go but he is only 17 years old and has a good frame to work with in the future. He was not a major factor in terms of scoring impact in Mannheim but he has an excellent potential down the road.
Dimitrios Agravanis was one of the few interesting players on the Greek team. He was also the only one who did not have a negative +/- ratio on average. Agravanis is nicely athletic forward who has a good presence on both ends of the floor. He can shoot the three pointer but mainly operates close to the basket. Out of Pick and Roll situations, he does a good job moving to the basket and can finish his plays with two handed dunks against defense. Being 2m08 tall, he has excellent size for playing Power Forward on the next level and is eventually considering the NCAA as an option according to what we heard.
Peter Moeller was the top scorer for the Danish team as the guard logged long minutes for the 15th placed team. We did not see many new stuff on Moeller who showed great progress on the PG position during the NIJT in Kaunas but had to play SG or even SF during long moments in the only game I saw from Denmark. He had to use a lot his left hand as the defense closed his right one and was able to finish several floaters with his weaker hand even against taller players. For more info on him, it’s better to check the report from the NIJT.
Rasmus Larsen came into the tournament after months plagued by several injuries and left with another little foot injury. The big time prospect from Denmark showed his usual tremendous skill set and improved body and it will be interesting to see how well he can play once he is fully healed. Let’s hope that comes in time for the major events of the summer so that he can underline his status as one of the top prospects of the 1994 generation in Europe.