Here we go for the first part of our scouting reports from the Nike International Junior Tournament. The guard group was somehow quite limited in this event but overall you have to add that it was once again difficult to scout all the players in details with two games running parallel at all times.
Agusti Sans – 1m94 – PG – 1995 – Joventut Badalona
The left handed but tall point guard improved throughout the event after a relatively slow start. He was the heart of the Badalona offense as he could do everything from the defensive end to finish close to the rim. With his size and relatively good athletic abilities, Sans often took the defensive rebound to start the fast break immediately with his good speed. Very much oriented on his left hand, he was most of the time crossing the ball over to be able to attack the basket on his strong side. Only very few defenders were able to take his strength away so that he could penetrate often at will. This gave him excellent shooting percentages as he was able to finish close to the rim with ease.
Sans can also create his own shot either from mid-range or from behind the arc. Despite his good jumping ability, he does not elevate a lot when taking a shot which can become a problem against longer defenders. His mechanics though are very fluid and his overall shooting flow looks good. He needs though to become more regular from outside the three-point line as his shot remains streaky. Sans has all the tools to become a good PG on the professional level as he combines size, decent athletic abilities and a good scoring potential. It should not last a long time until he sees minutes on a regular basis for the Badalona pro team.
Stats: 10.3ppg (66.7% 2FGs – 27.3% 3FGs), 4.5rpg, 5.5apg, 2.0topg
Xavier Assalit – 1m85 – PG – 1995 – Joventut Badalona
The backup of Sans was an excellent complement as his style was quite different from the starting guard. Assalit was shorter than Sans but what a speed. The 1m85 tall right handed guard was certainly the fastest player of the whole NIJT in London. Extremely aggressive on both ends of the floor, Assalit attacked the basket without any fear and drew a large amount of fouls (5.5 per game). As he was doing an excellent job from the free-throw line, he could really improve his numbers compared to the NIJT in l’Hospitalet. Assalit has not only great speed on the fast break but he accelerates so well against set defense. On the negative side, despite being excellent from the free-throw line, Assalit has no shot at all from behind the arc. This is a problem for him if he wants to make it to the next as defenses will give him no chance of beating them easily on the drive.
Stats: 8.3ppg (43.8% 2FGs – 19/21 FTs), 3.0rpg, 2.9apg, 1.5topg
Nikola Rebic – 1m85 – PG – 1995 – Crvena Zvezda
It was not really a great tournament for Red Star who could never really find their rhythm in London. Nikola Rebic looked to be the only one playing on his real level as he finished with strong numbers. Due to the extended coverage of the NIJT in Belgrade, we did not check that many minutes of the Zvezda team as the schedule did not allow to watch full games. Rebic showed an improved finishing against the defense when attacking the basket which is also underlined by his excellent shooting percentage from 2 point territory. However, he played only 2 games so that these numbers have to be handled with care.
Stats: 17.0ppg (76.9% 2FGs – 25.0% 3FGs), 3.0rpg, 5.0apg, 2.5topg
Ludde Hakanson – 1m93 – PG – 1996 – FC Barcelona
It has not been a great tournament for the Swedish guard but he looks to be among the more interesting PG prospects of the 1996 generation. Not very lucky with his shooting, Hakanson showed good reads of the defense in Pick and Roll situations to get the open jump shot. Not very creative in his passing though, Hakanson looked more like a scoring than a distributing point guard on this level. He showed some good control of the game speed but was outmatched by Joventut’s quickness in the Final of the tournament. Overall, the Swede looks to be a good shooter. He has a lot of confidence and asks for the ball when he is open and nails the jump shot from around the arc. Hakanson is a player that matured quite early so that it is difficult how much upside he still has. Physically, he is already well developed and technically, he has the level. Having another year at the U18, it will be interesting to see how much of the leadership role he can take over next season as he looks to be quite a vocal person on the court.
Stats: 6.5ppg (26.1% 2FGs – 33.3% 3FGs), 3.0rpg, 2.5apg
Luke Nelson – 1m90 – PG – 1995 – England U18
It looks like UC-Irvine got a massive steal with the signature of the English guard Luke Nelson as the athletic and mobile playmaker looked to be one of the best PGs in the tournament. Nelson has excellent ball handling and uses it well to beat his man on the dribble with often wide crossover moves. Additionally, he seems to have a good wingspan which allows him to be very large in his plays. He has a preference for the jump shot out of the dribble which is certainly not the easiest shot to make but Nelson scored several of them also in the decisive moments. Nevertheless, his shot selection was a bit hazardous at moments but overall he looked to be a nice fit for NCAA-type of basketball.
The 1m90 tall player has good speed and nice acceleration moves when he is attacking the basket. He can find his team mates well on help situations but looks mostly for his own score first. He can make some points especially out of the dribble where he can also attack the rim hard. On the other hand, Nelson misses high-level experience in controlling the game speed and looks to play without changing the rhythm of the offense. This is a part of the game that he still has to learn next to becoming a more regular player from behind the three-point line. Nelson should be able to get minutes right from the start with UC-Irvine and it will be interesting how far he can go in the NCAA experience.
Stats: 15.7ppg (38.9% 2FGs – 30.8% 3FGs), 3.3rpg, 5.7apg, 3.7topg
Aleksej Nikolic – 1m83 – PG/SG – 1995 – OKK Spars Sarajevo
Nikolic was the main ball handler for the somehow disappointing OKK Spars team during the NIJT in London. After dominating the tournament in Rome, Nikolic played correctly in London and was in our eyes the best player of the big-three from Sarajevo. Quite versatile and a good rebounder, Nikolic though was mainly used in a role of scoring guard that he seemed to like. Despite having not the greatest size, Nikolic lives from his quick feet and very quick shot that he can get up against nearly anyone on defense. Overall, Nikolic looks like an interesting prospect but it would be good to see him with a real team to better analyze how he operates in a situation where he does not have the ball all the time.
Stats: 15.7ppg (50.0% 2FGs – 33.3% 3FGs), 7.0rpg, 4.7apg, 5.0topg