European Prospects

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Jan Špan – first Euroleague taste

February 24th, 2011 · 3 Comments

After having debuted in the Euroleague last week, the young Slovenian PG Jan Span saw again 2mins37 yesterday in the home loss against Lottomatica Roma. His former coach Luka Bassin took the time to analyze his current situation and came up with a once-again highly interesting Scouting report on the back-up PG from Olimpija Ljubljana.

(Luka Bassin) Jan Špan, Slovenian prospect, tasted his first Euroleague minutes last week. After a very good performance at the F8 of the Slovenian Spar Cup, coach Zdovc gave him a chance in a game against the mighty Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in front of 13.000 fans in Stožice Arena. In three minutes on the floor, Špan scored from behind the arc and was giving a nice rest to starting PG Vlado Ilievski.

Jan Špan is an 18-year-old point guard, being 1m90 tall, who came to Union Olimpija in March 2009. He played for Litija, a Slovenian 1b division team before, and was member of many Slovenian youth national teams.

After he came to Union Olimpija he immediately earned an MVP award and led the U17 team to win the  »Memorial Barila tournament« in Varese 2009 and to a 3rd place at the Rho tournament the same year. He was also MVP of the international U18 »Torneo Navidad« at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in December 2009 and was member of »best 5« at the NIJT Qualifier in London 2010, where he and his Union Olimpija junior team won and earned a ticket for the NIJT F8 in Paris later thas year. At the F8 in Paris he was the #1 in number of assists – 7.0 assists per game.

Some high-light from Paris 2010 (Jan Špan #10) vs INSEP

Later thas year he also led his team to win the Slovenian national junior championship and earned some minutes in Union Olimpija’s first team in the Adriatic league. Beside he was playing, as a loan player, for Litija in 1b division, where he averaged 14.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in more than 31 minutes on court.

For the 2010-11 season he became a regular member of the first team and played at some Adriatic basketball league games.

Jan Špan is a natural born leader, a boss on the floor, very smart and intelligent player, who knows exactly what it takes to become a real-time pro.

He has good height for the PG position, a pretty nice basketball body, he is fast and very inventive. Lack of body muscles is his physical disadvantage at the moment but he can develop it in future.

Some high-light from Paris 2010 (Jan Špan #10) vs Zalgiris Kaunas

Tactically he is well developed, sometimes he pushes too much and makes some bad decisions when he is playing for juniors, but on the other hand he is not daring enough when he is playing on senior level basketball at the moment.


Fastbreak and transition game: Jan is good transition player, but not perfect. His court vision is very good. As a ballhandler and point guard he uses too much dribbles sometimes and his pass could be a little late, but will develop decision making with experiences for sure. In fastbreak situations he uses also some tough passes as behind the back pass when there is an opportunity.

Penetration: He is much better when he attacks with his right hand. Not that he can’t attack with the left hand but he is more unsecure when it comes to that. From the dribble penetration he uses change of pace and has good repertoire of fakes (behind the back or cross-over), and can easily create opportunities for his teamates. He can also beat his opponent from low triple-threat position and shot fake, and has a quite fast first step. He is also very good in using floaters or runners in traffic and uses them against taller help defenders.

Shot: He is more than regular shooter. He is excellent in spot-up shooting from behind the arc, he can use shot after pick’n’roll situation or from the dribble if his defender is away and off-balance, and he can use pretty good screens for shooters (he can read defense and can choose curl, straight or fade option). His release is fast and high, and is very balanced.

Pick’n’roll game: his dribbling technique allows him to be a good p’n’r player. He makes an opportunity for himself often, he can find open roll man and he dramatically developed the outside kick-out pass to the perimeters or pop-man lately.

Spacing&cutting: Jan is very good in finding open space and open passing lanes, and has very good sense when to cut to open territory. He understands what spacing is and is always ready to catch the ball.

Passing skills: His decision making is sometimes problem, but passing technique is very well. The fact that he was #1 passer of the NIJT F8 in Paris last year shows that he is very good in creating opportunities for teammates and will be even better when he’ll develop his pass from different situations. As I mentioned earlier he developed his outside pass from p’n’r and ISO situations to perimeter players.

Because of his position and physical attributes he is rarely present in offensive rebound or in post-up situations.


D transition: Jan knows exactly when to go back to the paint or when to stop transition a little bit higher. With him on the court, the coach does not have to worry about being beaten with easy lay-ups or leak-out situations.

Rebound: He is solid rebounder and has no problem with boxing out.

Post-up situation: He definitely has some physical limits and can struggle against taller and stronger opponents in the paint. On the other hand he is smart enough to front taller players and does not let them receive a ball.

ISO situations and full-court: He can pressure ballhandler all over the court. He is fast enough, his balance in defensive stance is good and handwork too. Lately he is more aggressive. I couldn’t say that he is perfect 1:1 defender but is very good and hardly beaten (of course it is a little bit different at Euroleague level and match-up with Pargo or Perkins last week). With all mentioned he is very good in creating turnovers by the opposite team. In full court defenses he can predict movement of the ball and can steal the ball very often.

Helping&rotating: He is good in it. His timing is OK and he can help and recover or can rotate at right time at right place.

Pick’n’roll defense: He is late sometimes and can be pinned by screener but is very inventive and can re-hold position by going under. Other than that he is aggressive enough and fights through screens.He is familiar with all kinds of p’n’r defenses but can not switch many times because his team can come in difficulties with miss-match on post player.

Chasing shooters: He can chase almost anybody since he is fast enough and smart to predict where shooter is going.

Jan Špan can develop into good Euroleague point guard, maybe into worse copy of Sarunas Jasikevicius.

With his attitude and developed aggressiveness, coach Zdovc uses him more and more, and at last few Adriatic league and Euroleague games he became regular member of Union Olimpija’s rotation and slowly becoming real back-up point guard. Not bad for a barely 18-year-old player.

In front of him is a long and difficult way but with some luck, good timing, a good mentor as Vlado Ilievski is and hard work, he is player for Union Olimpija’s future.

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Top16 Week #5: black holes | IN THE GAME // Feb 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    […] former youth coach Luka Bassin has a comprehensive scouting report on Euroleague rookie Jan Span for […]

  • 2 Top16 Week #5: Barca, Olympiacos on course | Bloggerview News Online // Feb 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    […] former youth coach Luka Bassin has a comprehensive scouting report on Euroleague rookie Jan Span for […]

  • 3 Emili Paz // Feb 28, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Jan Span is indeed a natural talent. Although he is playing limited for Union Olimpijia this season, expect those numbers to go up in the next season, especially since Union Olimpijia garnered a lot of attention this year for its breakthrough season. There are still some areas that he needs to improve on (offense & defense), obviously. But talent is something that he possesses and will be a gem that the team must make the most of.

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