One week ago, the German U16 Championship came to its highlight of the season with the Top4 that was played in Ludwigsburg. We take a look at the main prospects of the event but limiting our analysis as most of these players have still a long way to go physically. Compared to South-European competitions in this age category, most of the German players look rather young from a physical point of view which makes the overall potential rather difficult to judge as it is not clear how much growth is left. Nevertheless, let’s check who impressed the most during the two days in Southern Germany.
Gavin Schilling – 2m04 – C/PF – 1995 – ALBA Urspring
Gavin Schilling was clearly the most impressive prospect of the JBBL weekend. The Urspring big guy had no counterpart in terms of size and explosiveness and easily dominated the paint in the two games. His team used him mainly in the low post. When he received the ball, he went either for the jump hook or did several times some kind of baseline move to go around his defender with quite quick feet. He has good hands to finish around the basket on finger rolls or lay-backs and showed some good positioning which was though mainly the result of his physical power. In the Final when he had to play against a more physical defender, he struggled sometimes to get open or find the right spot and got called for several offensive fouls.
Schilling can also knock down some shots from around the key but his mechanics are rather slow in the execution. He struggled badly from the free-throw line in the semi-finals as his shot is not really regular. When facing the basket, he sometimes attacks the rim with the dribble but mainly uses his right hand, even if the defense opens him the left side. While his upper body is very well developed, he might have some progress possible in his legs. His jumping ability is excellent and he has great explosiveness around the rim to finish plays with explosive dunks rarely seen in this age category in Germany. Schilling needs to develop though more of an outside game in the next years as he does not look to grow a lot anymore. With his size, or even a few additional centimeters, he will not be able to play the Center position on the professional level and should improve his ball handling and penetration skills in order to move to the PF in the next years. Being NCAA eligible in 2013, he has two more years to do so in Urspring and he is already being recruited by high-major programs right now.
Zaire Thompson – 1m83 – PG – 1995 – ALBA Urspring
The tiny PG played an excellent weekend and was the real leader of the Urspring team. Thompson was present in the decisive moments of both the semis and the Final making big shots or free-throws. He likes to attack the basket and stop in mid-range to take a jump shot that is though not super quick in the execution but finding its goal on a regular basis. Thompson displays superb speed running the point and is doing a great job on the fast breaks where he can accelerate the pace of his team. With his limited size, he can attack the basket on this level but he will probably get a bit more trouble in the NBBL category to do so next season.
Right now, Thompson is more of a scoring guard than being a true playmaker. His decision making is not too bad but he is not really creating a lot of plays for his team mates. He averaged only 1.0 assists on the Top4 weekend but he came up with nearly six dimes per game during the regular season so that he might be able to find his team mates in good situations on a regular basis. Because of his size, you can see him sometimes go for the jump and pass situations which are quite turnover-prone. But these are things that Thompson should be able to improve in the next years. His above average athletic skills and the ability to knock down shots in the decisive minutes are qualities that he has already right now and that he can build upon.
Nils Dejworek – 2m01 – PF/SF – 1995 – ALBA Urspring
A player that we particularly liked with the Urspring team was the forward Nils Dejworek. He did not amaze you with big scoring and athletic abilities but he was the third string in the Urspring team that played as well 40 minutes on both games in Ludwigsburg. The forward played the perfect team player role being present on defense, rebounding the ball and creating opportunities for his team mates by his spacing and passing. He even helped to bring up the ball despite being nearly the tallest player on the court against the press defense using his excellent ball handling skills for a player of his size. The youngest of three sons of the former Polish National team player Leopold Dejworek (the two other brothers played College Basketball at Belmont respectively Portland and are both close to seven feet tall) has probably still some growth in reserve and can develop into the most interesting prospect of the group down the road.
Still being really thin and shy on the court, Dejworek can shot the ball even if his mechanics are still improvable as he has some kind of chest shot. He can hit the occasional three point shot but prefers to go close to the basket where he uses his size and foot speed to score against smaller defenders. His shooting touch looks nice and he can for example make the running floater out of penetration plays. Dejworek needs to get stronger physically in the next years and continue to improve his shot to become a highly interesting forward prospect for the Urspring Academy in the coming years.
Robert Zinn – 1m94 – PG – 1995 – BBA Ludwigsburg
Robert Zinn was the clear leader of the JBBL Finalist BBA Ludwigsburg. Being 1m94 tall as a PG on U16 level is not that ordinary but Zinn really was the head of his team during the two days in his city. He can both attack the basket and shot from long distance without being really quick though. Zinn is more using his technique in order to create opportunities for his own score or open the passes for his team mates. He has a good court-vision and finds his players also out of difficult drives but he sometimes tries the passing too much neglecting his own opportunities or trying the spectacular play over the easy one. Additionally, I had the feeling that he is shying a bit away from the contact and prefers to finish on the soft floater than going hard to the finish close to the rim.
Out of Pick and Roll situations, he can either come up with the three point shot, even if his mechanics are really slow and do not give him the opportunity to take his shot when being defended close, or attack the basket and find the roller. He is not particularly creative in his passing but understands well where his team mates have to move. Zinn can finish the plays out of mid range with floaters of either hand but has of course a preference for his stronger right side. He did not really use his size on this level as for example he never posted up his defenders who were however more than 10cms smaller than him. After having suffered a knee injury this winter, Zinn did not really look affected by that Meniscus problem and he should be able to work on his athletic abilities in the next months in order to improve his speed. This would definitely make him one of the more interesting prospects for Germany in the back court for this generation.
Stefan Ilzhöfer – 1m95 – SG – 1995 – BBA Ludwigsburg
The second scorer in the back-court next to Zinn was the long Stefan Ilzhöfer. Mainly scoring from behind the arc, Ilzhöfer was used as a shooter who was able to score nice series of three-pointers but also struggled to get a good look when being defended physically. The problem is that his shot is coming from very low and being some kind of set shot which hinders him to execute his move when he has a defender very close. However, his mechanics are very quick and if he can work to improve on the above mentioned problem, he can become a very dangerous scorer in the next years as he seems to have a great touch from outside. Despite being right handed, Ilzhöfer has a preference to use his left hand when he attacks the basket but finishes his moves with the stronger right hand.
He might gain a few centimeters still which would give him an excellent size to play SG in the future. On the defensive end, he has to become faster on his lateral movements in order to defend more athletic players. Even if he has a certain presence in shot blocking, steals and rebounding, he suffers physically even on this level but that might change in the next years. Being a regular member of the German Youth National teams and therefore getting used to play against stronger competition, this should be a process that has only started recently for Ilzhöfer.
Tobias Heintzen – 1m94 – SF/PF – 1995 – BBA Ludwigsburg
Tobias Heintzen was a very physical presence in the Ludwigsburg team but might have only limited upside because of a rather mature body already. Mainly used as PF despite being only 1m94 tall, Heintzen showed an excellent defense on Schilling during the final but was not able to take him out of the game completely. But he gave the Urspring center a real challenge on defense. Offensively, Heintzen likes to play in the paint where he can use his force to score against physically weaker players. Close to the basket, he looked hard to stop even if he had to give several centimeters to his defenders. When he had to match up with Schilling, he took him out to the three-point line in order to beat him off the dribble or to score the long-distance shot against him which is not a major option in his offensive game though. It will be interesting to see if Heintzen can develop an outside game in the next years as his size will limit his upside potential as an inside player. He has the necessary attitude and fighting spirit for the next level but his skill set looks a bit too limited right now to claim a role as a full time SF or even SG in the future.
Daniel Ivanov helped the Urspring team with his scoring and shooting in the back court. Being rather short (1m82 and playing SG), he has to play mainly from outside and mid-range and he did not attack the basket that often. His shooting mechanics look very good and he seems to be quite a tough kid who is not afraid of the contact. Ivanov will probably have some problems to crack the Urspring rotation in the NBBL next season and his overall upside looks limited. But he was an important factor for his team on this level and with a few additional centimeters, he might become an interesting prospect for the national level in the next years.
Johannes Joos played quite an interesting weekend for BBA Ludwigsburg as the left-handed 1m98 inside player showed a good presence in the paint. He can finish out of the low post with the jump hook and runs the floor nicely. Joos has a good touch close to the rim and can even come up with the good pass out of the low post. He seems to have a nice technical package to work with in the next years and might have some centimeters in reserve for the future. He is not particularly physical which might become a problem if he can not add some weight to his rather thin frame.
Robyn Missa was one of the main prospects to follow during the weekend in Ludwigsburg but the IBBA Berlin player could not reach the final after his team lost in a hard fight against Urspring in the semi-finals. The 2m05 tall Center showed some good finishes but a rather unenthusiastic overall performance as he seemed not to be really implicated from a body language perspective. He has though an excellent timing for rebounding and has a good vertical presence. His hands seem to be not the best as he struggles to finish with great percentages close to the rim. He was physically overmatched by Schilling in the semis and struggled to stay in front of him because of limited lateral speed. His footwork looks good though on offense as he can score without problems after a difficult spin move for example. There is some interesting potential for Missa down the road and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he can have next season on the NBBL level.
Nico Jacobi was one of the main drivers for the IBBA offense as the powerful guard liked to attack the basket at full speed without taking care of the defense. Despite being only 1m87 tall, most of Jacobi’s scores came from close to the basket as he used his body well in order to create the gaps that he needed to find his way to the rim. Always finishing on his right hand even when coming from the left side, Jacobi needs to develop his technical skills in order to become a serious prospect offensively. On the defensive end, he can be a factor because of his massive body and good fighting spirit but his overall upside potential looks a bit limited.
Tarek Vierhuve played an interesting semi-final and became somehow the tragic person for his team in the final seconds when he got refused a highly important And-one play. Vierhuve is the kind of “player” in the backcourt who is able to create his own opportunities with ease but sometimes doing a bit too much on his own. His shot looks well even if he has not come up with great numbers during the regular season from behind the arc. He has unlimited confidence in his game and got fired up after the Urspring benched told his defender to give him room for the shot. His answer was a three-pointer. He showed some nice handles on offense and did once the famous Bodiroga cross to attack the basket. Defensively he showed good lateral speed and he might have the potential to become an excellent PG stopper as he looked also a lot taller than the announced 1m82.
Yannik Mettner looked like an interesting long-term prospect for the weaker Bayer 04 Leverkusen team. Despite being listed at only 1m93, Mettner looked longer on the court and showed a good overall game. He was able to hit the three-point shot from the corner, attack the basket on the drive and score with the foul close to the rim. He can pass the ball and had also a nice feel for stealing the basketball. Physically, he was a bit overwhelmed by his defenders in the semi-final but Leverkusen seems to have a very interesting player in it roster for the upcoming years.
You can watch the JBBL Final in full length on the website LIVEimNETZ.de. Click on Sport and then NBBL/JBBL Top4 to access the game tape.