Last weekend started the 2010/2011 season of the German U19 NBBL League. The league features the players born in 1994,93 and 92 this season. Even if the 1992 born players are still eligible to play on this level, most of them are already a part of the rotation of professional teams on ProA or ProB level so that they will not play all the NBBL regular season games. However, the talent level of this season is once again highly interesting so that we take a look at the different divisions to see who are the main players to follow and which teams will play for the National Title this season.
The Northwest Division of the 2010/2011 season in the NBBL seems to be very open this time. Last year, Paderborn Baskets qualified for their second Top4 in a row but the team around Lars and Ole Wendt may have lost an important figure in Dominik Malinowski. This certainly hurts the team and the growing impact of the guard-twins with the professional team will also be a factor as they can not fully concentrate on the NBBL regular season. Paderborn will start only next week with a home game against Eisbären Bremerhaven who lost most of their top talents because of the age category and departures. The arrivals of Jonathan Malu and Jacob Mampuya will probably not be enough to overcome the losses of Bill Borekambi, Sadam Eco, Anthony Canty and Ceyhan Pfeil.
Oldenburg has seen the return of U17 NT PG Anselm Hartmann and the arrival of 2m15 tall Frederik Jörg. These additions helped them already to beat easily the Young Dragons in the season opener. The team is looking to qualify for the Play-offs this season but the fight will be hard as Bayer Leverkusen, Metropol Baskets and Phoenix Hagen seem to be strong as well. Leverkusen is lead by 92 born PG Till-Joscha Jönke who is already having some impact on the ProB level as well. The departures of Tim Unterluggauer and Martin Breunig are of course severe losses and handicap the team in the paint. Metropol Baskets Ruhr seems to be a very balanced team while Phoenix Hagen is probably lead by U17 NT forward Fabian Bleck. The team had no problems to start its regular season with a big win over the very young SG Köln 99ers. The team Bonn/Rhöndorf will also fight hard to avoid the Play-Downs. The player to follow here is the 1992 born Florian Koch.
The 2010 finalist ALBA Berlin will go into a season with several changes as the main players have left the team because of the age category. The new head coach Marius Huth will certainly built the team around the highly versatile Joey Ney and SG Sebastian Fülle while the role of Erik Müller in the paint will increase. The addition of the talented 94 generation that played the Top4 in the U16 JBBL last summer will give the team some depth on the bench as well. Another team to watch is of course Braunschweig around the athletic center Daniel Theis and PG Dennis Nawrocki who plays already in a starting role for the co-operation team Wolfenbüttel in the ProB. Funkwerk Juniors Jena is the third team in this division that can go for the first place as coach Frank Müller maybe lost Anselm Hartmann but could bring in big man Tim Unterluggauer who will form a highly interesting duo in the paint with Paul Albrecht. With Jakob Krumbeck in the backcourt as first scoring option, this team of 93 born players looks to be a major candidate for the Top4 in the next two seasons.
Behind these three teams, it will always be important to take a closer look at the two other Berlin-based academies, Central Hoops and IBBA. Central Hoops is still lead by the scoring guard Martin Bogdanov who should get some support by Sofian M’Rad and Maodo Lo. For IBBA, who won the U16 JBBL trophy last season, it will be interesting to see how much impact these 94 born players will have already. Mauricio Marin, who saw minutes on ProB level this season will certainly be among the leaders of this talented group. Bramfelder SV will try to qualify for the Play-offs behind the efforts of the versatile SF/SG Kay Gausa and the athleticism of Tim Parohl. The Junior teams of MBC and Göttingen will mostly likely have a minor role in this division.
The favorite of the Mitte Division will most likely be Eintracht Frankfurt. Bringing in Falko Theilig who came from Giessen and with the addition of Nikolaj Vukovic, the team coached by Olaf Kanngießer adds some serious talent to the already interesting team around Jan Novak, Jan Dolejsi and especially Roland Nyama. The athletic but still raw 93 born forward is certainly one of the players to follow during this NBBL season. Frankfurt started their season with a win against the Basket-College Rhein-Neckar. The BCRN is a highly interesting team around Alexander Kuhn and especially the 94 born Paul Zipser. The 1m96 tall PG from Mannheim was one of the invites of the last Jordan Brand Camp in Istanbul and showed from the first game that he will have some impact this season with 13pts and 9rebs. The results of TSV Breitengüssbach will depend a lot on the presence of Philipp Neumann. The departure of Deon McDuffie got compensated with the arrival of the highly talented Alexander Engel and the 2m05 of Johannes Richter from last season’s Top4 team Franken Hexer. Together with Jörg Dippold this team has a highly interesting mixture of talent through all the positions and will fight with Frankfurt for the top spot probably.
The TBB Junior Team in Trier got an excellent addition in Bill Borekambi, one of the most athletic players in the whole league and a regular starter for the German U18 National Team during the Albert-Schweitzer Tournament this spring. Together with the backcourt duo of Andrew Wiggins and Maxim Schneider, Trier will try to reach the Play-offs again this season. The surprise of the regular season from last year was Mainz. With a new name (SG Rheinhessen) but the same leader (Patrick Heckmann), they will try to qualify again for the Play-offs. The departure of the most talented players next to Heckmann because of the age category will be a major problem for them this season though. The Giessen 46ers Juniors lost their most talented players in Theilig and Robin Christen so that they will build this year around the athletic Javon Baumann and the U16 National team player Dominic Lockhart. TV Langen and the new team of CYBEX Bayreuth will most likely try to avoid the last place in the group. While Langen will be lead again by NBBL All-Star Nico Barth, the player to watch in Bayreuth is the 95 born David Taylor.
The defending champion ALBA Urspring will of course try to bring another title home to Schelklingen. The team of coach Felix Czerny lost some talent as every year but there is enough coming up from the younger age groups. Kevin Bright should be the leader this season and show that he can lead the group to the Top4 again. He will get support from U18 NT PG Mario Blessing, U17 NT SF Julius Wolf and Jordan Brand International Game MVP Malik Müller. The player to follow this season could be Sid-Marlon Theis as the 93 born SF is one of the most interesting prospects in Germany despite being still pretty raw. Next to their major recruiting for the professional team, Bayern München is now also a team to take a look at on the NBBL level. The talented PG Alexander Blessig was the Rookie of the year in 2009 and the addition of the massive and long Bogdan Radosavljevic is a huge asset and immediately puts the team from the Bavarian capital among the favorites of the division. It will be interesting to see what Besnik Bekteshi is able to produce this season for BBA Ludwigsburg as he helped the team to reach the Play-offs last spring and bring Urspring to a decisive game 3.
The Basketballakademie Ulm should be the 4th team in this group to reach the Play-offs. The team of Rainer Bauer added the ultra-quick Deon McDuffie and has the long and strong Andreas Wenzl in the paint. Last year’s Top4 team Franken Hexer, who plays now as Nürnberger BC has lost most of its talent to different destinations and will most likely not reach the Play-offs. BIS Baskets Speyer, the Young Tigers Tübingen and the BSG Junior Team Kurpfalz will have some trouble to win games against the 4 above mentioned favorites as their rosters seem pretty limited compared to the competition.