After a first look at some promising players in the Bundesliga, I will cover today some of the biggest prospects that are currently playing in the third German League, ProB. This league features a nice bunch of talented young players and the match-up between Speyer and Ehingen was the opportunity to get a look at some of most interesting.
Elias Harris (2m00 – 1989 – Forward – BIS Speyer)
In a recent article by the German magazine Forward, the current German U18 National team coach Kay Blümel considers Elias Harris as the biggest German prospect right now. Nobody else has the same combination of athleticism and basketball skills in the youth categories. Harris is also a house-hold name for all the followers of European Youth competitions and the possibility to see him play in his daily setup of Speyer was very interesting.
Harris is still present on the floor through his great athletic and physical skills. He is currently in process of developing a Small Forward type of play, as he was always used to play more on the PF position. So you see him attack the basket from the top, in a face-to-the-basket style. He can go down low on the block if he has a smaller defender on him but most of his plays are currently energetic drives to the hoop in a special off two feet jumping style. He uses this technique in order to surround players and it helps him to turn his big physical presence into an advantage.
The main question in Harris’ game was and still is his shot. While his mechanics look already better, most of his jump shots in this game looked pretty short. From the outside, he seems to miss the necessary shooting touch. However, this is a work in progress and his nice accuracy from the FT line shows that he is on the right way. What can be added in his favor is that he saw that his shot was not falling in the first half and relied more on the drives in the 2nd period; drives that he often scored of with the additional foul.
On defense, Harris is very present in rebounding and has the necessary speed and athleticism to defend Small Forwards. In his particular match-up with the quick Christian Standhardinger, he effectively blocked the way to the basket and forced the Ehingen forward to take mid-distance jump shots. Harris has the timing to become an interesting shot blocker too. In the rebounding area, he is very present through his good positioning and physical force.
After a slow season start, Harris has now found his rhythm and plays nearly 40 minutes every game. It is well known that he wants to join the NCAA next season, but for the moment, nothing official has been published. He will in any case be one of the leaders of the very talented German U20 team for this summer’s European Championship.
Statistics after 10 games: 19.1ppg (52.5% 2FG 20.5% 3FG 77.4% FT), 8.2rpg
Simon Schmitz (1m88 – 1990 – Point Guard – BIS Speyer)
Simon Schmitz is one of the nice surprises for me this season. The 1990 born PG has nearly doubled all of his figures in his second full season on this level. Together with Elias Harris, he represents the a very nice talented combo for the team of Speyer. Schmitz is a regular member of the different German Youth National teams and it would be no surprise if he joins the U20 squad this summer despite being one year younger.
Being physically quite the opposite of Harris, Schmitz displays a good size but a very thin and fragile body. He gets banged around and has to take lots of off-balance shots in a league that features quite a number of very physical players. But he is not afraid and drives with nice speed and mostly of his right hand to the basket. He normally does not go until the rim but mostly finished of some kind of driving lay-up a bit off the basket in order to avoid the big guys.
He can also hit the jump shots out of the dribble without any problem and even nets them when getting fouled. He looks under control in what he does and is very good in avoiding turnovers. Even if he plays more than 33 minutes per game, he loses only 1.8 balls per game, quite a great figure for somebody touching the ball so often.
Simon Schmitz, who is a coach’s son, looks to me like one of the most promising PG prospects in Germany right now. His development since the last time I saw him is good, and his numbers are also improving big. Of course, he needs to work on his physical abilities in order to get stronger and resist better on the shocks in the game.
Statistics after 9 games: 15.8ppg (54.7% 2FG 41.2% 3FG 77.8% FT), 3.9rpg, 3.6apg
Christian Standhardinger (2m01 – 1989 – Forward – Erdgas Ehingen)
Christian Standhardinger is in his first season where he only plays for the ProB team of Ehingen after winning two times the NBBL championship with Urspring. His slashy style of the last two years was somehow limited so that he works hard in order to add some additional tools to his offensive game. The 2m01 tall forward is for the moment the second best scorer of the whole ProB and the game that I had the opportunity to see him was simply the best scoring game of his season so far with 41 units.
And Standhardinger started the game with a very nice 3 point shot coming of a multitude of screens he used over the baseline. It showed that he has worked a lot on his long distance shot as Speyer tried to control his drives and he answered with some very nice shots from behind the arc or jump shots out of the dribbling. His one dribble jump shot seems to connect now on a regular basis off both sides when driving.
Of course, his main weapon remains the right handed drive which he tries to use up until the rim and where he collects a lot of fouls. He shots a high percentage from the FT line (more than 90% in November – 40/44) which makes his play very effective. Additionally, he reads the defense well as he uses the help defense to dish out easy assists to his team mates. He came for example up with an 8 assist effort recently.
Defensively, he lacks of course the physicals in order to stop a guy like Elias Harris on the block. On the other hand, he is going for every rebound on both sides of the court and has good instincts to play the steal. In order to be considered as a great prospects, Standhardinger needs to improve his physical presence, especially get stronger in his legs. His future is surely on the SF position.
Having participated to the ALBA Berlin training camp in Slovenia this summer, it is highly likely that Standhardinger will join the NCAA this summer though. His scorer and winning mentality makes him a very promising player, even if his sometimes arrogant behavior is not liked by all the observers.
Statistics after 13 games: 22.0ppg (57.4% 2FG 32.6% 3FG 73.3% T), 8.5rpg, 2.5apg, 1.7spg
Nicolai Simon (1m91 – 1987 – Point Guard – Erdgas Ehingen)
Nicolai Simon was considered as the top Point Guard talent in Germany 2 years ago. But a very long-lasting back injury (he did not play for about 14 months) pushed him backwards in his development. At one moment, he was coming up with promising games for ALBA Berlin, he is now back in Ehingen where he played before signing with the German powerhouse.
Simon’s play is still characterized by a very good jump shot, control of the game and leader qualities on the floor. He lost a bit of his speed which is quite normal and he has now the time to regain his full physical form. He is not yet having a big impact in terms of scoring, but with his 21 years of age, he is one of the oldest players right now of Ehingen and has additional roles to fulfill. And with Standhardinger on the team, he does not need to score that much.
Nicolai Simon likes to to for the drive where he has no particular preference for one side. He can go for the score until the rim, and even nets in with the foul after a spin-move for example. His range is great and he can hit the three-pointer without any problem. However, his shot does not really fall for the moment but this will come back for sure.
This season is very important for him as he needs to play a full season without any physical problems in order to show himself that he is really back and gain in confidence. The coaching staff at Ehingen gives him this possibility and he plays big minutes. And he claims himself that right now he is 100% free of pain so that everything looks well for him to come back at his potential level.
Statistics after 12 games: 6.7ppg (40.4% 2FG 23.3& 3FG 81.3% FT) 2.5rpg, 3.2apg
The game between Speyer and Ehinger featured some other interesting players in Ehingen’s roster. I saw a particularly nice game of Cornelius Adler, a 1989 born forward who is doing really well in the last games. The 1m95 tall former Braunschweig player scored 15pts in just 17 minutes and showed a nice arsenal of offensive possibilities. He made a good score of a post-up move, finished a drive on his left hand and also netted one three pointer.
Maurice Stuckey had not his best day and he finished the game scoreless.
Thierno Agne was present in his typical defending rebounder style. Offensively, he was not very present as his shots did not fall.