After having discussed the players to watch in groups A and B during the Albert Schweitzer Tournament 2014 in Mannheim, let’s take a look now at the groups C and D to see who are the main prospects.
Group C looks quite loaded with USA, France and Ukraine which means that one of these three teams will not make it into the second round. As usual during the last years, the US team is not really a National Team. This is once again the case this year and there is no new Magic Johnson or Tim Duncan in sight in this roster. The team is built around 12 high school standouts under the direction of Mike Olson who is the head coach at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden. The team features several players that have signed already with top level NCAA division 1 programs like Tim Delaney (Villanova), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) and Mike Williams (Rutgers). Another interesting player to follow is certainly Elijah Burns who draws big interest from schools like VCU, Notre Dame or Seton Hall in the Class of 2015. The Blair Academy player is considered an unselfish but skilled and smart forward.
The French team at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament does not look as talented as we have been used to over the last events. The main names to follow are the talents coming from the INSEP program like Cyrille Eliezer- Vanerot or Ywen Smock who we have seen during the NIJT in Belgrade. On the other hand, the roster features a large number of non-INSEP players that the coaching staff wants to test for the upcoming U18 European Championship. A name that stands out in this list is Alpha Kaba, a 2m05 tall power forward from Pau–Orthez who averages 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in the French U21 league. Nevertheless, France needs to pay attention in this group where they can finish first but also third as their pre-tournament test games against Germany did not look very good.
Ukraine comes with a highly interesting to Mannheim as it features top level prospect Svyatoslav Mykhaliuk who just played the Nike Hoop Summit a few days ago. The 1997 born prospect is simply considered as one of the best talents in Europe and he showed this during the U16 European Championship last summer where he was a member of the All Tournament team with 25.2 points and 8 rebounds per game scoring a remarkable array of dunks, three-pointers and off-balance jump-shots. Other players to watch on that team are the PG Illya Sydorov and SF Oleksandr Kobets. With a dominating Mikhayliuk though, Ukraine can advance to the next round in this event which would be a great success for coach Maksym Mikhelson.
The fourth team in Group C is an Albert Schweitzer Tournament newcomer in Chile. The players to watch in the South American roster are Nicolás Aguirre (PG,1998) and Sebastián Herrera (SG, 1997). Aguirre turned 16 last week, is only listed at 5’11’’ and presents much needed physical development ahead, but that does not prevent Aguirre to be the floor general of the Chilean team. Last year, he was included in the best 5 at the U16 Tournament of Americas after averaging 18 points, 6 boards and 6 assists per game, and almost leading Chile to historical pass to the u17 World Championships. Aguirre is a do it all guard with quick hands, that will score, showing deep range, and feed his teammates both running the fast break or in 5on5 situations, finding the open man or the big guy. Herrera, also only 16 and a Basketball Without Borders alumnus, is a solid 6’4’’ wing, capable of running the point, or fighting against bigger guys for the rebounds. A quite improved shooter, he’s looking for a move to a US high school next season in order to pursue a college degree there afterwards.
Group D looks strong again with the two favorites from Spain and Italy. Spain comes to Mannheim with a roster that might lack any true top star prospect but they can be considered as a true favorite for the title because of their generally well-oiled team play. Marc Garcia will probably be one of their top scorers as the elegant forward from FC Barcelona is excelling with his fluid outside shot but he can also use his touch when he is attacking the basket. Spain lacks a true inside scoring presence but it will be interesting to see how the athletic Yankuba Sima and the more physical Marc Bauza will work together in the paint. Sima showed his vertical presence during the NIJT in Belgrade without being a true offensive threat while Bauza can do a bit of everything and will certainly put some defenses before major problems.
Italy looks also quite interesting as they are built around the 1997 born forward Andrea La Torre who showed his talent level already on multiple occasions. Well built for such a young player, la Torre can either score from outside or drive hard to the rim where he is not afraid to finish strong with the dunk. Another player to follow on the Italian roster is Frederico Mussini from Reggio Emilia. The 1m90 tall PG is apparently drawing interest from Gonzaga University and he has already earned some interesting minutes on the professional and even Euro Challenge level. He was also a key player during the NIJT 2013 in Rome where he was active in a Stella Azzurra jersey. Italy should be able to qualify for the next round even if Spain looks to be the strongest team in this group.
China is always a bit of a mystery and this year as well, they might come up with some interesting players. The names to follow on the Asian roster are probably Ziming Fan and Hao Fu. Ziming is born only in 1998 but is already 2m10 tall. It is reported that he has developed a pretty good mid-range game and that he has broad shoulder, long wingspan and strong lower body. On the negative side, he appears to be pretty slow and not as athletic as he looks. Hao Fu is another big man being listed at 2m06. He averaged 12.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game during the U16 Asian Games last summer. All in all, it is quite difficult to predict the level of this team that in fact a U17 team preparing the World Championships later this year in Dubai.
Bosnia could be a really interesting team if all the players will be in Mannheim. The main name to follow is certainly Sandro Gacic who impressed us during the U18 European Championship last summer. Capable of running both guard spots, Gacic is a great scorer with interesting athletic abilities. He is currently playing in the Spanish EBA League for Leon which is a quite interesting choice. Next to him, Nedim Djedovic is a name to follow but it is reported that he is not with the team. The younger brother of Nihad Djedovic is playing for Barcelona in Spain. With a full roster, Bosnia could be an interesting matchup in this quite stacked group D but it depends a lot on who of their main prospects will come to Mannheim.