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Nordic Championships: U16 Review

May 25th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Next to the U18 Tournament, the Nordic Championships also featured a U16 tournament. This competition was highly interesting as nearly all of the players were unknown to me, so I had a lot new potential to discover. I have put only those players in the report that had a major impact on the games during the tournament and have some potential for the future. There were more players that could have been featured in this report, but I wanted to limit myself to talk only about a few of these 14-16 year old kids. If you want more information on other players, feel free to contact me.

Nicholas Spires – 2m07 – Forward – 1994 – Södertälje

The Swedish forward was clearly the most dominating player of the tournament. Despite a rail thin frame, Spires did what he wanted in the paint and when facing the very few taller players of the tournament, he stepped out and beat them on the dribble. He may have had some problems against smaller players on defense as his lateral speed was not good enough to play against guards or quick small forwards. However, with 2m07 in size and maybe still growing, Spires looks like an extremely interesting long-term potential on the PF position.

Spires will be mainly a face-up player, a wing who puts the ball on the floor and creates out of the dribbling. He can go for it all and finish with the big dunk in traffic but also take the mid-range jump shot on the stop. Additionally, he looks to be a great passer both out of the dribble and from the high-post on the step out. His good footwork helps him to score on spin moves as well as on the occasional post up move that he finishes mostly with a soft-looking jump hook. He can also go for the well executed but a bit slow turn around jump shot.

On the defensive end, Spires is not afraid to put his really long and thin body in the lane to take the charge. He is present in the defensive rebound without being outstanding and can also reject the shots which looked to be more the result of his height in this competition than extraordinary timing. Spires seems to love the team play as you could see him go a lot for the extra-pass in game situations where his team dominated but he took the game in his hand when it came to close situations forcing the one-on-one situations a bit but mostly concluding them in his favor. The question mark is his physical situation as he is apparently highly injury prone due to his very thin appearance. Additionally, as he is not afraid to go hard in the paint, the risk of getting injured in those situations is quite high.

Stats: 16.6ppg (50.0% 2FG – 25.0% 3FG), 8.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.6bpg

Simon Ezra – 1m91 – Forward – 1994 – Arvika

Simon Ezra is a quite athletic forward who was mainly present on the offensive end. He features a nice long distance shot when he has his feet set and can also hit the jump shot out of the dribble from mid-range. He loves to put the ball on the floor, especially with his right hand and drive until the rim. When close to the basket, he can finish nicely and his above average athletic abilities help him to do so. He had one particularly impressive play when he attacked the hoop over the baseline and finished with an up and under layup with great elegance in the air.

On the defensive end, Ezra was a bit a mixed bag. He can do his job as he has all the potential to become an excellent defensive player. However, he looked not too concerned on this over stretches, especially when defending shooters which he let open on the three-point line quite a few times. Ezra is reported to move to the United States in order to play High School Basketball in the future, but nothing has been decided so far to our knowledge.

Stats: 9.6ppg (45.9% 2FG – 33.3% 3FG), 5.6rpg

Papy Ndiaye – 1m87 – Guard – 1994 – Gävle

The Swedish PG excelled in one-on-one situations where he easily could create opportunities for himself to score the basketball. He can finish his drives with both hands close to the basket on layups or finger rolls. Ndiaye is nicely athletic without being great, he can finish the break with a dunk for example. Despite having a shot that is far from being stable at the moment, he is a scorer first before being a passer. He needs to better understand the game and avoid situations where he goes for the jump and pass against the defense and especially in the drive against the set play. Currently, he mostly drives with his right hand and is therefore easy to stop when playing against stronger defense.

Ndiaye could use his overall talent level during the Nordic Championships to be a scoring threat but he will probably struggle once playing against better competition that can match with him on the physical level. The guard from Gävle needs to be more present on defense as well and not only be a threat on stealing the ball in the passing lane. He has definitely a long way to go, but has an interesting potential if he can improve his shot and work hard over the next years.

Stats: 10.4ppg (48.6% 2FG – 14.3% 3FG), 3.8rpg, 2.4apg, 2.0spg

Espen Fjaerestad – 1m87 – Guard – 1994 – Kirkvoll

The Norwegian guard was certainly one of the most impressive shooters of the whole tournament, U18 players included. With an extremely quick release, he can hit the shot from nearly everywhere and in every position: catch-and-shoot, pull-up of the dribble, coming of the screen or out of balance, everything looked easy for him. He had some major shooting games over the tournament with one game being particularly impressive with 7/9 2FG and 7/9 3FGs in one game.

Fjaerestad can not only fire the ball in any situations when receiving the pass, he can also create his own shot out of the dribble as he has quite good handles. He forces it sometimes a bit too much by going for difficult cross-over dribbles to create the necessary space though. He can also attack the basket but it is not his main asset. He is at his best when he can shooting the ball receiving the kick out or transfer pass by one of his team mates. The 1m87 tall played needs to develop his left hand when putting the ball on the floor and eventually start to be also a bit more creative for his team mates if he wants to become more than just a pure shooter.

Stats: 16.8ppg (54.5% 2FG – 47.6% 3FG), 3.3rpg

Martin Hermannsson – 1m85 – Guard – 1994 – KR

The Icelandic guard was a bit a similar player than Fjaerestad, a guard with an extremely quick shot and impressive field goal percentages: Hermannsson finished the tournament with a great 55.1% overall field goal percentage while hitting unbelievable 69.6% from inside the three point line. Despite having a shot that looks a bit like a chest shot, Hermannsson was unstoppable over stretches and look less streaky than Fjaerestad. What made him however more interesting is that his game is more versatile.

Hermannsson can play the PG position which will probably also be his position in the future as he has quite a good court vision and can also play the drive very well with some interesting fakes and looks for his team mates. He can also control the game speed and calm the team down when it is necessary. Hermannsson can put the ball on the floor with both hands and finish as well close to the basket against taller players as he protects his lay-ups pretty well. On the defensive end, Hermannsson plays the occasional steal but is not present that much. Being not overly physical, he may struggle on this side of the court in the future when playing against stronger guards.

Stats: 16.8ppg (69.6% 2FG – 45.7% 3FG), 2.2rpg, 2.6apg, 1.8spg

Valur Orri Valsson – 1m80 – Guard – 1994 – Njardvik

The second guard of the Icelandic Gold Medal U16 team was Valur Orri Valsson. Valsson was a little less scoring oriented than Hermannsson but also had some more strange shooting decisions. However, he run the PG with good control and created also nice opportunities for his team mates. The left handed guard is a good physical presence as well and the vocal leader of the team. He can score the ball as well but his three point shot was not falling at great percentages through out the days in Sweden.

Stats: 15.0ppg (48.6% 2FG – 28.2% 3FG), 4.8rpg, 3.6apg, 2.6spg

Watch the highlights of the Final Iceland-Sweden here (#14 Hermannsson, #15 Valsson)

Rasmus Glarbjerg Larsen – 2m11 – Power Forward – 1994 – Vaerlose

Next to Nicholas Spires, Rasmus Glarbjerg Larsen was probably the player that drew the most interest from the professional teams that were in attendance during the tournament. The Danish kid combines terrific height and very interesting basketball skills. He played mostly on the Center position for the Danish team but his future is clearly on the wing as already now, he has a nice three point shot, he can put the ball on the floor and has good athletic abilities for a player of his size. The right handed player from Vaerlose was simply amazing in the first game of the tournament but struggled a bit later on and suffered especially in the match-up with Spires that beat him easily of the dribble on multiple occasions.

The intrigue about Larsen is that he can put the ball on the floor with both hands and attack the basket really hard with correct speed. He showed some incredible plays for such a young man scoring tough layups with the foul or going for the strong one handed dunk coming of the weak side cut. Out of the rebound situations, he can even bring up the ball on the fast break and go for the nice dish to one of his team mates. He scored also on left handed finger rolls for example and on the mid range jump shot. His free-throw mechanics look perfect and he seems to be as well a correct passer.

The negative side comes when being on defense. Even if Larsen can direct his zone from the middle, he looks a bit soft in rebound situations not going hard to get the ball above the rim as he could do. You have the impression that he “waits” for the ball to fall in his hands which is probably the case in the Danish youth League. He looks a bit soft in his execution and presence on the court and is far away from being a dominator on both sides of the court. However, his potential seems really high and Joventut Badalona tried him out already this season and brought him to the tournament of Massagno in Switzerland. Everything looks like he will join the Spanish team, he even wore a Joventut pullover during the Medal ceremony.

Stats: 13.6ppg (54.2% 2FG – 72.2% FTs), 8.8rpg, 1.2spg, 2.0bpg

Peter Moeller – 1m86 – Guard – 1994 – Vaerlose

The Danish guard was the main scorer of a very interesting back court. Moeller never doubted on his scoring skills and constantly attacked the basket or took the three point shots. Even if his shooting release is a bit slow, he is not afraid to take the shot with defense on him at any moment. He has an excellent motor and sometimes goes a bit too much for the shot. Moeller is doing a good job attacking the basket with both hands and is not afraid to go for the score against the bigger guys.

He has correct athletic abilities and can finish difficult plays with hang-time or up and under layups. With his good footwork, he is able to create good position for himself to score in the paint as well. A very important part of his game is his big presence in the rebound, as he was nearly the top rebounder of his team. Moeller really feels where the ball will go down and he is going hard on any occasion to get the ball in his hands. The guard from Vaerlose is definitely a player to watch and should eventually develop more PG skills in order to have a future on a higher level as his size limits him a bit at the moment.

Stats: 17.6ppg (50.0% 2FG – 32.3% 3FG – 83.3% FTs), 8.2rpg, 2.0apg, 1.2spg All-Tournament Team

Check below the All-Tournament Team of the U16 Nordic Championships 2010.

PG – Valur Orri Valsson (Iceland)

SG – Martin Hermannsson (Iceland)

SF – Peter Moeller (Denmark)

PF – Nicholas Spires (Sweden)

C – Rasmus Glarbjerg Larsen (Denmark)

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