European Prospects

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NIJT Belgrade 2014: the Wings

March 17th, 2014 · No Comments

In the second part of our analysis of the Nike International Junior Tournament qualification event in Belgrade, we will talk about the main wing players. These include some high-level prospects like the Croatian Lovro Mazalin or the French Stephane Gombauld.

Stefan Lazarevic – 1m97 – SF – 1996 – Crvena Zvezda

Stefan Lazarevic was the energizer for the Tournament winners on the wing. The 1m97 tall forward has good athletic abilities which help him to be an excellent defensive rebounder for his size. Out of these situations, he likes to push the ball up-court in a role as transition Point Guard and most of his 4 assists per game came when he went from coast-to-coast and found his team mates cutting in from the wing. Physically, he can dominate on this level because of his superior body control and long arms. He posted up his defenders and finished with the jump hook from the baseline. Overall though, his shooting touch is not great. Despite playing mostly from outside, he has no three point shot whatsoever which makes him limited for the next level where he will meet players of similar strength. Even if Lazarevic is really interesting because of his versatility, he needs to work hard on his shooting in order to become a player with a potential for the high professional level in the future.

Stats: 7.4ppg (53.1% FGs), 7.4prg, 4.0apg

Cyrille Eliezer Vanerot – 1m99 – SF – 1996 – INSEP

Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot remains one of the most interesting physical profiles in his age generation. Gifted with superb athletic abilities, a good body and a nice wingspan, Eliezer-Vanerot has all the tools to become a top-level prospect. In Belgrade, he underlined this status and showed some promising developments on the one side but also some limitations that are still present. His jump shot seems to progress, especially in catch-and-shoot situations but it can not yet be considered as stable. He can make two-three shots in a row but also come up with an ugly airball from behind the arc when he is totally open. With his first step, he can beat defenders but rarely goes the full way to the hoop and prefers to stop in the mid-range territory for a jump shot. This can be explained by a poor ball handling and the risk of turning it over when he has to dribble through traffic.

Eliezer-Vanerot needs to continue improving his shooting touch and his balance on the jump shot. He loses the control of his body at moments which is a major problem for him at the moment. The overall shooting mechanics look good though. With his physical profile, the French forward has clearly the potential for the highest level. However, there are still lots of parts of his game that need some polish. Next to the ball handling, the 1m99 tall player is not really effective as a Pick-and-Roll ball handler as he lacks the court vision and understanding to find the correct angles. Surprisingly, he is not as dominant as you could expect in the open court and his rebounding could be better as well. All in all, a lot of development is still needed but Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot can become a really good player in the future if he progresses over the next 2-3 years.

Stats: 11.6ppg (37.3% FGs – 34.8% 3FGs), 4.0rpg, 1.6spg

Stephane Gombauld – 2m03 – PF/SF – 1997 – INSEP

Stephane Gombauld remains a really impressive prospects as he is still a year younger than the competition on the U18 level but he can come up with some dominant moments as a Power Forward. After being handicapped over a long stretch of the season, the athletic forward is coming back from an injury but you could see some flaws in his game that might show that he is not yet in full shape. What strikes you first is how well Gombauld runs the court. He is doing a superb job in fast break situations where he pushes his defender full court and gets therefore a lot of open looks as a trailer or first big man down the court. With his huge hands, he can catch a lot of difficult passes from different angles but he struggles sometimes to finish them as well as you would expect.

In the set offense, Gombauld showed some dominance when he received the ball in the low or at the high post. With a superb first step, he managed to beat any of the defenders he was facing and he could finish often with only one dribble on a layup or finger roll. What is interesting for his long term development is that he tried a multitude of finishes with his weaker left hand even if his effectiveness is not as good as with the right hand. But if he continues to work, he can become a great finisher in the paint. The problem right now is that his jump shot, especially from behind the arc, is not yet a factor. Additionally, Gombauld struggles when he needs to take more than 2-3 dribbles on a drive as his ball handling is far from being good.

On the defensive end, the lateral speed of the 1997 born forward is really good. He can put a lot of pressure when he hedges out on Pick and Roll situations and recover quite easily to his initial position. With his physical profile, Gombauld is an excellent rebounder and also has a good second jump which is quick but not that explosive. With another year of development, Gombauld can really become a highly interesting prospect. If he improves his shot and his ball handling, he might be a different version of Livio Jean-Charles in the future as both players have quite a similar physical profile. However, Gombauld lacks the passing skills of the future Spur but seems to be a better athlete.

Stats: 15.0ppg (53.7% FGs), 7.0rpg, 2.0spg

Aleksandar Dozic – 2m02 – SF/PF – 1996 – Buducnost

Aleksandar Dozic played an interesting tournament that could have been better in scoring if the Montenegrin forward would have had better shooting percentages. In his role as a stretch four, he shot an abysmal 7.1% from behind the arc but he took the second most three-point shots of the whole team. When he drove to the basket after a fake, his ball handling and foot work looked interesting as he could do it with either hand. Dozic was also doing a nice job as high-low passer in the Buducnost set offense. Overall, Dozic can be considered an interesting prospect who will probably make a nice career on the local level over the next years as he is a good rebounder for his size but he definitely needs to become more regular from behind the arc to be a serious offensive threat.

Stats: 8.0ppg (33.3% FGs – 7.1% 3FGs), 7.0rpg

Milos Glisic – 2m05 – PF/SF – 1998 – Partizan

Two years younger than the competition, Milos Glisic put up some All-Tournament Team numbers that show his talent and potential. First of all though, you have to say that Glisic’ body is far more developed and limits somehow his upside potential. Nevertheless, he is a very interesting player in his role as stretch-four. The 2m05 tall Serbian plays a lot off the ball on the offensive end and he moves really well into the open gaps. He has a great feel for the offensive rebound and with his quick second jump, he can finish in the paint with good efficiency in these situations despite not being the most athletic player on the court.

Even if Glisic is a great free-throw shooter, he is not very effective with his jump shot around the key or from behind the arc. Nevertheless, he finds a way to beat his defender on the drive with a good first step and finishes great on the drive. Glisic has a bit of a low post game but he does not use it that much. He has a clear preference for the face up game where his go-to move is the dribble push to the middle followed by a spin move drop step to the baseline. With his improving body, Glisic has become more stable in his lower body which helps him as well to finish in the paint.

On the defensive end, Glisic struggles to stay in front of smaller players. He is not able to defend small forwards on the U18 level because of slow feet and lateral movement. This is the main concern for his upside as he will probably be stuck at the Power Forward position in the future if he can not improve this part of his game next to the outside touch. He is though a great rebounder and he can initiate the fast break with 1-2 quick dribbles and run up the court as a very effective trailer. Despite not being very explosive, Glisic is present in the passing lanes and also a surprising shot blocker.

Stats: 15.5ppg (46.2% FGs – 12.5% 3FGs), 8.0rpg, 2.3spg, 1.0bpg

Lovro Mazalin – 2m01 – SF – 1997 – Cedevita Zagreb

Lovro Mazalin was the most ready player for the next level in the whole tournament. The Cedevita youngster was dominant on both ends of the floor but he missed the semi-final of the event which would have been a real test for him. Mazalin can play some kind of point forward especially in transition where he makes great decisions, reads well what’s happening on defense and can also go full court for the breakaway dunk. The left handed Croatian, who is still a year younger but looks already quite mature physically, scored at will through parts of the game but also disappeared a bit for some moments. His great basketball instincts help him in multiple situations to find a good solution for a pass or a score.

When Mazalin attacks the basket, he can finish in multiple ways. His footwork and ball handling skills allow him to split defenses and create nice scoring opportunities close to the basket. His direction changes are great and he keeps his head up mostly so that he can find his big men in the paint or the shooters for the kickout pass. Mazalin finishes really well in the paint himself where he can use his developed body to protect himself but also good leaping abilities, especially on the run, to put the ball up high enough to not get blocked. On the other hand, his outside shot remains a bit shaky with slow mechanics and often being a bit out of balance. It is not yet a major part of his game but he needs to work on a good jump shot out of the dribble or in Pick and Roll situations to become more dangerous for the next level.

On the defensive end, Mazalin is really impressive as well. He rebounds the ball greatly and can immediately push it up court to create transition opportunities. With his long arms, he is very present in the passing lanes where his instincts once again help him well to generate a multitude of steals. His lateral speed is excellent so that he should be capable to play PG in the future during some stretches also on the defensive end. Mazalin also is impressive when sprinting back in defense to come up with the chase-down block shot high above the rim. On the long term, Mazalin has the physical and basketball qualities for the highest level. His athletic profile looks really promising and his skills and creativity are made for the next step. He needs though to become a better shooter and also work on his consistency and body language on the court. If he can improve in these areas, he will probably have a really great career in the next years.

Stats: 15.3ppg (49.0% FGs – 25.0% 3FGs), 6.7rpg, 4.0apg, 2.5spg, 1.0bpg

Issa Thiam – 2m04 – SF – 1996 – Canarias Basketball Academy

The Senegalese forward in the ranks of the Canarias Basketball Academy presents a very interesting physical profile. Long and athletic, Thiam was however not a major factor on the offensive end for the Spanish Academy. He showed though during the three-point contest that he can develop into an interesting wing scorer as his shooting touch seems to be there. But he never really showed any aggressiveness in the games to score the basketball despite his good potential. He can attack the basket with either hand and also come up with some nice kick out passes. Because of his length, he is a matchup problem as he posts up smaller defenders. With his long arms, he can also become a great defensive player who is superb in the passing lanes but Thiam needs to develop more confidence in his offensive qualities. Being in the Class of 2015, he has the physical potential to play at least for a mid-major program but he needs to stabilize his offensive game.

Stats: 3.5ppg (26.3% FGs – 28.6% 3FGs), 5.5rpg, 1.8spg

Vuk Karadzic – 1m96 – SF/SG – 1996 – Mega Vizura

Karadzic was a major part of the Mega Vizura game as he had the clear role to shot every ball he got from behind the arc. He took nearly half of his shots from three-point territory. Overall, Karadzic has good size to play the SG position. His jump shot execution looks good even if he often is a bit in a fade away mode from behind the arc. The 1m96 tall shooter is quite calm on the court and precise in his overall game but despite being a nice scorer, Karadzic does not look to be a high-level prospect on the long term. Nevertheless, with his shooting abilities, he should be able to get a nice career and see some minutes in the Adriatic League in the future.

Stats: 13.6ppg (45.5% FGs – 37.9% 3FGs), 1.6rpg, 1.4apg

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