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NIJT 2011: the next generation

May 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

In our final report on the Nike International Junior Tournament series for the 2010/2011 season, we will take a look at some of the players that we might see again in future editions. We picked out four talents that we consider highly interesting for the upcoming years.

Nikola Rebic – 1m85 – PG – FMP Belgrade – 1995

The Serbian PG has moved up in the FMP hierarchy since the departure of Nenad Miljenovic and he is now, being 2 years younger than his team mates, the starting playmaker for the team. Being of course less experienced than his illustrious predecessor, Rebic could not lead his team to another NIJT title in Barcelona at the same age than Miljenovic did this in Berlin 2009. It would also be unfair to compare Rebic to Miljenovic as both players are quite different. Rebic first of all is not the tallest PG even if he seems to have gained a few centimeters recently. He has not yet the big influence on the game and mostly creates for himself instead of his team mates. Being not particularly effective from behind the three point line, Rebic tries to attack the basket most of the time where he is however limited by his size.

This might be the main reason why he is developing quite an interesting mid-range game. Out of his drives, Rebic often stops around the free-throw line area to take the mid-range jump shot. He has the ability to beat his opponent of the dribble with a good first step and his ball-handling helps him to put his defender out of balance. When Rebic attacks the basket, he struggles to score against the really tall players but he can finish with the foul occasionally. With more experience on this level, he should be able to become a better driver until the hoop even if his size might be a problem for the top level.

Stats: 9.3ppg (40.7% 2FGs – 0/5 3FGs), 3.3rpg, 4.3apg, 2.3topg

Dusan Ristic – 2m07 – C – FMP Belgrade – 1995

The Serbian big guy has made a big step forward over the last months and has become a full member of the FMP Junior team. Displaying good size and nice mobility, Ristic showed once again in Barcelona what his future level can be. Averaging nearly a double-double while being 2 years younger than the competition is already quite an achievement for the 2m07 tall inside player. Ristic has a very good feeling for the game, finding the right spots and timings to get a lot of easy scores. He reads well what the defense gives him and adjusts his game according to that.

Even if he is sometimes a bit too “easy” or soft on his finishes, this might change during the next years once he gets used to play against more physical players. He has a correct arsenal of offensive moves in the low post but he can also score from mid-range with the jump shot. Athletically, he is on a good way at the moment. He will most likely not become an incredible jumper but he runs the floor well and can finish with the dunk over the defense. He played an impressive game against the athletic INSEP frontcourt where he came up with a game-deciding hook shot in the final seconds of the game. FMP will have an interesting roster for the next season with the above mentioned Rebic, Ristic and a fully recovered Nikola Jankovic who is still coming back from his mononucleosis.

Stats: 9.0ppg (54.5% 2FGs), 9.0rpg, 1.3topg, 0.7bpg

Mam Jaiteh – 2m05 – C –INSEP – 1994

The French big guy was certainly one of the players with the most developed bodies in the whole tournament. After having seen his development over a year, he has become a physical beast in terms of body structure but has not yet learned how to use this advantage in his favor. However, he knows how to position himself down low using his force in order to create the necessary space or positioning. He scores mainly with technical finishes and is not using brute force in order to open the way to the basket at the moment. If Jaiteh can find the combination of both, he can develop into a very interesting prospect down the road.

Jaiteh averaged nearly a double-double in Barcelona but struggled a lot in the low post when he tried his moves. These ended quite often in turnovers as he is not used to see double-teams or aggressive guards coming low to steal the ball. His moves are quite slow as is his jump shot which is well executed but not very fast in his mechanics and release. He can score from around the key in catch and shoot situations but right now, Jaiteh is not able to create his own shot when he is facing the basket. Out of the low post, he comes up with the occasional jump hook as well but mostly gets the scores after offensive rebounds or passes from his team mates.

Stats: 9.7ppg (56.5% 2FGs), 10.7rpg, 1.3spg, 5.0topg

James Metecan Birsen – 2m03 – SG/PG – Fenerbahce Ülker – 1995

The Turkish player showed some very interesting skills during the days in Barcelona. Often used as a SG or even PG despite being 2m03 tall, Birsen displayed good speed, an interesting shot and an excellent overall talent level and body to work with during the next years. Birsen can attack the basket and vary his speed on the drive in order to create opportunities to score. Even if he was used to bring up the ball or play the point, he mainly creates for himself right now but his ball handling skills give him the opportunity to play full time in the back court in the future. His shot release is good and he can score from behind the three-point line without any problem. Birsen saw his minutes limited because of his young age during the tournament as the coaching staff did not let him do too many mistakes on the court. But on a long term view, Birsen might be the most interesting player of the Turkish team present in Spain.

Stats: 7.0ppg (50.0% 2FGs), 2.7rpg, 1.0apg, 1.7topg

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