The Albert Schweitzer Tournament is over and it is time to talk about the players and the tournament in general. The first article will be about the level of the tournament and a report about the best non-European players.
After 8 days of competition, Greece was the deserved winner of the 50th birthday edition of the biggest and most observed U18 National Team tournament of the world. The level of the tournament has been lower than the years before, this has also been confirmed by the scouts and observers present in Mannheim. The absence of top European nations like Serbia (all there top players were playing the FMP Tournament) and Lithuania hurt the value of the competition. That the best 1990 born player Ricky Rubio was not present was also to be awaited but changed of the course the value of a Spanish team. Unfortunately, no Asian or African could make it to the tournament as it is always interesting to take a look at nations you normally don’t see over here in Europe.
On the other hand, with 4 teams that were not from Europe among the top 8 nations, the opportunity was given to see some new faces and the presence of lots of NBA but also European Scouts showed the still remaining importance of the tournament.
Generally, the surprise may be the 8th place of Sweden, that is not considered as a top talent source in Europe. However, they took profit of an easy group and won the game that they had to win against Germany to finish before basketball nations like Russia or Croatia. This brings up the question of the schedule which decides the 1-8 spots already after only 3 of the 8 days of competition. Of course, it is not a World Championship but a good place at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament is still a very important thing for the national basketball federations.
Still, besides all these facts, the popular success of the event is enormous. Nearly 30.000 people visited the games and sold out crowds for the Finals have become normal for the organization. Of course, the presence of Greece and Turkey contributed to the popular success. So before talking about the European players in detail, I will give a short review on the most promising players from the other nations except from the US, which I deliberately take out as there are websites that follow these High School players on a more regular basis and can give better reviews. Just one word, Irving Walker was by far the best player on the team and a lot of credit has to be given to him for the good 4th place of the team.
Matthew Dellavedova (1m88 – Point Guard – Australia)
Dellavedova was for me among the best PGs of the tournament, if not the best. The 1m88 tall product of the Australian Institute of Sports has the whole package of skills that is needed to become an interesting player on the highest level. Besides the basketball qualities he has, Matthew is also a vocal leader on the court, he encourages his team mates and shows a lot of passion on the defensive end. He completely shut down the US PG Walker in the game for the third place and was herewith the cornerstone of the success.
Dellavedova has a very good three point shot, which he can also fired up under pressure with perfect shooting mechanics. He is not afraid either to take the big shots when the team needs them and he can vary between his jumpers and very well developed driving skills. He has no fear to finish close to the rim against the bigs, where he uses his developed athletic skills to finish the lay-ups with hangtime and foul calls against him.
For me, Dellavedova deserved the PG spot in the All-Tournament team in the place of Irving Walker, especially because of the direct match-up between both on Saturday which went clearly in favor of the Emu.
Mangisto Arop (1m97 – Small Forward – Canada)
Arop deserved really more consideration for the All-Tournament team too. It was his performances that led Canada to a surprising 5th place. The Sudanese born player showed very interesting basketball qualities, and it seems that he has still quite a big margin of progress as his handles and technique can be polished in the next years.
Actually, Arop has 3pt range, even from way behind the 6m25 line. But even if he went for several big threes in the games, I would not qualify him as a shooter as he relies more on his drives. Drivers which he comes on after a good first step which he however supports with some grabbing around the defender. A problem that may cause him some trouble as it is an offensive foul call most of the time (it was not the case in Mannheim too often). He can go up for the mid range jump shot out of his drives and he even sees his open team mates excellently when the help comes.
He can finish high above the rim due to outstanding athletic abilities and he gratified the audience with some nice backdoor dunks. He uses a lot of fakes and his excellent court vision and precise passing made him the second passer of his team. Despite being a big scorer, he is also a huge rebounder on both ends of the court. With improved technique and ball handling skills, it is possible to develop for an eventual SG position in the future. He was definitely among the most talented players of the tournament in my opinion and he should be followed very closely over the next years.
Other players of the Candian team that I liked were their guard Rob Gagliardi; an short but explosive guard who scored a lot on penetration and fast breaks. He went up for one of the most spectacular dunks of the tournament when he dunked over two people on the break and was so surprised by himself that he had to laugh after the play. The 1991 born Murphy Burnatowski was the third player on the Canadian team that showed some promise. He is a very fluid player with good shooting mechanics and a well developed body already. However, his shooting percentages were not among the best but his fighting spirit makes him an interesting player for the future.
In a very deep Australian team, it was hard to take out somebody already, and even it was more difficult to give honorable mentions to other guys as there were 7 players in the whole team that averaged more than 8ppg. So my choice went to Jorden Page who shared the PG role with Dellavedova. The thin but very quick and highly athletic guard has a nice view for his team mates and can finish close to the basket after very good hangtime.
For Argentina, I wanted to mention of course Pablo Orlietti, 2m06 tall PF from Atenas Cordoba. Unfortunately, I could not scout him on the Final day as he was out with a finger injury. Orlietti is more of the classical inside player with back to the basket moves and the short jump shot from around the key. He scores a lot with jump hooks on the right side. He has three point range but he works essentially in the post. He is a scorer, as every ball he gets, he tries to score it. He also showed some skills off his left hand when he needs to use it, he draw a foul out of the double team where he tried to go up for a left handed jumphook in one situation for example.
Finally, the New Zealand team showed despite a 14th place some players with interesting talent. Brook Ruscoe is a scoring SG who lacks a bit of size but has a very nice shot and good skills to draw the fouls when penetrating. The probably best prospect on the team is however Dion Prewster who had to play a lot of SF/PF but he could eventually go for the PG spot in the future. He can shot the three despite a strange move, he is physically developed and has a very good court vision. Unfortunately, he does not look in good shape and he probably lacks of the technical baggage to become a high level player.