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NIJT London 2013: the Bigs

June 3rd, 2013 · No Comments

In the last part of our report on the Nike International Junior Tournament, we are taking a look at the big guys of the event. Not much to report here as the main prospect was already portrayed during our trip to Belgrade in February.

Norbertas Giga – 2m08 – C – 1995 – Lietuvos Rytas

The Lithuanian big guy was more or less the only player worth to follow on the Lietuvas Rytas team. Giga has a nice size and moves correctly but lacks high-level explosiveness and shooting touch. Once established in the low post, Giga can score on the jump hook but only through his stronger right hand. He tried some moves with his left hand too but they looked not very promising. The 2m08 tall Giga put the ball on the floor here and there driving from outside but it did not look like his strength. From outside, he also came up with the occasional good high-low pass. On the defensive end, he did a correct job on other big guys even if he committed some stupid fouls here and there.

Stats: 6.7ppg (45.0% 2FGs), 4.0rpg

Milovan Draskovic – 2m11 – C – 1995 – FC Barcelona

After having seen Milovan Draskovic two years ago with the U16 National Team of Montenegro, the progress of the seven-footer has been very good. Draskovic is growing into his body even if he is still very underdeveloped physically. However, on this level, he could dominate in the paint during some moments with his length, rebounding skills and shot blocking presence. Draskovic operates a lot from the low post where he can either score on the typical back-to-the-basket play or after facing up to the basket. He was not afraid to play physically stronger defenders in one-on-one situations and was also successful in doing so.

Out of the low post, Draskovic also showed correct passing skills as he can find the open three-point shooters when being doubled. From the high-post, he also finds his team mates posting up in the paint at moments. On the downside, you have to notice that Draskovic struggles in his shot selection trying sometimes shots that he can not make yet. He also needs to work on holding the ball higher after catches or offensive rebounds in order to avoid getting stripped the ball away by smaller players. Next to his potential to become a real low-post player and a potential stretch out PF in the future, Draskovic was doing an excellent job on defense where he was very present vertically. Not the biggest leaper but most of the time he holds good positions that make him dangerous for opposing drivers. Lacking the necessary explosiveness to be a spectacular shot blocker, Draskovic rejects shots in a calmer but quite effective way. On a long term basis, Draskovic is one of the more interesting big guy potentials in Europe. If he can become stronger physically and stabilize his offense, he should be able to compete on Euroleague level in the next years.

Stats: 10.0ppg (38.9% 2FGs), 9.5rpg, 1.8bpg

Dusan Ristic – 2m07 – C – 1995 – Crvena Zvezda

Not much new on Ristic who we scouted already in Belgrade. However, he was rarely able to dominate like he did in the Qualification event which was a bit surprising as the overall big guy level was not superbly high in this event. Ristic struggled when he faced physical defense and lost his concept when he was put under pressure. His relatively slow feet were exposed when he had to defense smaller and faster inside players. Nevertheless, Ristic remains a high-class talent but he needs to become more stable in his game approach.

Stats: 15.0ppg (51.3% 2FGs), 9.7rpg, 2.0apg, 2.3bpg

Djoko Salic – 2m10 – C – 1995 – OKK Spars Sarajevo

Djoko Salic had a so-so showing during the days in London as the 2m10 tall Sarajevo player came to the event with some high expectations but rarely lived up to these despite scoring big numbers. Physically, Salic is very impressive as he is very large and strong but probably not in perfect shape. He could dominate in the low post by just using his body. This worked well against smaller defenders but he struggled to do so when he faced taller players like Kingsley Okoroh or faster guys who could intercept the entry pass. Salic was however doing a good job to post up and was extremely strong on the defensive rebound where he dominated the boards by his physique.

On the offensive end, his scores came mainly from backing up his defender. He sometimes stepped out of the paint for the occasional jump shot but his mechanics did not look very well and this was more of a decision based on frustration than as a serious option in his game. His overall shot selection was hazardous and it transposed to a poor 41.7% field goal percentage. More surprising though was that Salic did not block one shot throughout the tournament. Athletically, he is not very gifted as his running style is not very fluid and Salic is not really a big leaper. This combined with a limited explosiveness explains his poor shot blocking numbers. The question on Salic is his upside. Playing long minutes guaranteed him good numbers but my overall impression was not very positive on him. He has already matured physically and lives mainly from his physical strength. It will be interesting to see how he can play against professional that match-up with him from a strength point of view.

Stats: 19.3ppg (41.7% 2FGs), 13.7rpg, 0.0bpg

Ywen Smock – 2m03 – PF/C – 1996 – INSEP

One of the youngest players in the tournament, Ywen Smock showed some interesting potential on both ends of the floor. Smock was the “master” of hook shots, using both hands in the low post and varying so often that it was hard to get which is his strong hand. However, he was not very successful in his attempts with either hand so that he finished the tournament with relatively poor shooting percentages for a big guy. But his ability to get a shot up at will was quite impressive but he needs to work on his hands to become more effective. Well built for such a young player, Smock did a great job as shot blocker as he rejected more than two shots per game. With his limited size though, he needs to work on his technique and ball handling skills to become a serious option for the professional level.

Stats: 10.3ppg (42.4% 2FGs), 5.0rpg, 2.3bpg

Kingsley Okoroh – 2m16 – C – 1995 – Team England

Kingsley Okoroh helped himself a lot during the days in London after his season between the US and England. The 2m16 tall inside player showed during the NIJT that he has the potential to become a factor on the College level in a specific role. Not really explosive or athletic, Okoroh showed a very good feel for the game on the defensive end where he was one of the few players able to stop Djoko Salic in the post. He even came up with some nice steals in the passing lanes where he showed a timing that you would not expect from such a big player. Offensively, he remains quite raw as he has no real go-to move but he is able to finish the passes he gets from his team mates on drive-and-dish or Pick-and-roll situations. With improving athleticism and his already good defensive rebounding, Okoroh should get looks from mid- or even high-majors as soon as he decides about the Class he will be in. Word is that he might reclassify to 2013 but it could also be 2014 after going back to the US for a full year of prep school.

Stats: 9.7ppg (48.3% 2FGs), 10.0rpg, 2.0spg, 1.3bpg

Benjamin Lawson – 2m09 – PF/C – 1995 – Team England

Ben Lawson flew a bit under the radar for the British team as the 2m09 tall left-handed PF was not selected in Youth National team before. But the quite athletic and mobile big showed some very promising things during the three days in London. Capable of knocking down shots from around the key up the three point line, Lawson even showed some drives and in general good finishes in the paint. He was not a rebounding beast in the paint, far from that, but overall, Lawson has the potential to develop into an interesting stretch four down the road. Being a member of the 2013 class, he should get some interest from low- or mid-major schools that are looking for a versatile inside guy during the upcoming weeks.

Stats: 6.7ppg (46.7% 2FGs), 2.7rpg, 1.3bpg

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