This weekend, I visited some friends in the German Land of Hesse and I used this opportunity to see a bit of basketball action. With no major European prospect present in these games, I wanted however to mention the players I could observe. You will not find a detailed scouting report but more a general observation of the two games I attended.
The weekend started with the ProB (3rd league) game between Licher Basketbären and Hertener Löwen. Both teams feature a mix of proven German players, nice upcoming talent and two US players. One of Herten’s US players did not play because of a small injury which gave their German players more responsibilities. And the least one could say is that one young man stepped up and played his best game of the season so far. Vincent Kittmann, a 1988 born and 1m99 tall forward finished the game with 22pts (10/13 FG), 7rebs, 5asts, 3stls and 1blk in 26 minutes. The athletic SF did a nice job attacking the basket and working hard on rebounding. He was focused on what he can do, avoiding difficult shots or plays. His shooting percentage of 66.7% over the season so far confirms this as well as well as the only 1.8 turnovers per game. Kittmann also had the play of the game with a big one-handed dunk in the break out of nothing. He developed regularly his game over the last years starting in Oberliga back in 2005 over 2nd Regionalliga and NBBL to ProB last season with Osnabrück. He finished his first season on the professional level with 4.9ppg and 1.7rpg and is currently improving his numbers to 13.2ppg and 4.5rpg with a contender for moving up to ProA. His limits on the three point shot may hurt him down the road but with the increasing number of German players in the Beko BBL, Kittmann can be a rotation guy in the next few years.
Another 1988 born player in the team from Herten is the 2m04 tall Joleik Schaffrath, a quite athletic Center player whose main role was to do the dirty job in the paint. He did not show a large area of inside moves, but is quite an interesting player with a scoring attitude for this level. His progress is similar to the one of Kittmann as he increased his numbers from 4.4ppg and 4.0rpg to 11.1ppg and 6.0rpg. The former U16 NT and Oldenburg player is certainly a interesting inside force for smaller teams in Germany in the next years, however I see a better potential in Kittmann. But please note that these impressions are only the result of one game I saw of these players.
On the team from Lich, the most interesting player was of course the 1992 born PG Falko Theilig who played with the German U18 National Team this summer at the European Championship in Metz. The 17 year old did not have a great game though, especially on defense where he got passed several times by the opposing guards. Theilig was really overmatched in this game on the defensive end and could never stop his guy on one-on-one situations. Offensively, he did a correct job for such a young player in a heavy defeat by his own team, taking his chance from long distance when open. However, he went for a long air-ball on one play where he caught the ball baseline and checked where the three point line was to take a step backwards to be behind the arc. His only bucket of the game was in the last minutes of the game when he played a drive where he got the bonus on the continuation play. He finished with 5 points and 3 turnovers.
The nice surprise for Lich though was the great game (in a disastrous team effort) for Mathias Perl. Matze, how he is called by his team mates, was known beforehand as a tough defender but a poor offensive player. But on Saturday,the 1m88 tall guard had a career game on the offensive end scoring 18pts at 7 out 9 shot attempts. He added 3 steals and 1 blocked shot. Perl scored two catch and shoot three pointers coming out of the screen and made his 5 two point shots on nice drives to the basket where he finished close to the rim. While this offensive outburst was a large surprise for all the observers, the defense is still where Perl excels. He displays excellent lateral quickness, great speed and is extremely active with his hands. Perl has a fantastic gift for recognizing where he can steal the ball, either in the passing lanes or out of the hand of his opponent. During his years in the NBBL, he set a record for the eternity in 2007 with 7.5spg over the 14 regular season games with a great ratio of 2.5 steals per foul. If Perl can develop his offensive game; his coach attests him to be a great worker in practice; he can earn a Bundesliga spot in the next years. His defensive presence is already now on Beko BBL level in my opinion and he has a big motor and an exemplary attitude (did you ever see a guy sprint up to mid-court, do a full speed close-out on lay-up lines during the warm-up?) that should bring him space on a Bundesliga roster as defensive specialist.
After the ProB game, I followed also the Bundesliga game between LTi Giessen 46ers and Paderborn Baskets. Falko Theilig was also present as 12th man on the Giessen roster but did not see any minutes. The same happened to the former U18 European Champion, the 1989 born Serbian forward Stevan Tapuskovic. 1989 born Victor Jakovic was not in the 12 player roster of Giessen because of the limited number of foreign players. Johannes Lischka still suffered from his hand injury, but he should be back within 2 weeks.
For Paderborn Baskets, Nicolai Simon started the game and the 1987 born German PG did a correct job in a poor team. The former player of ALBA Berlin was considered a major prospect a few years ago but a severe back injury stopped his progress. He is now fighting back after he was out for several months and had a “recuperation” season in ProB with his former team of Erdgas Ehingen in 2008/2009. Simon finished the game with 5pts and 3rbs focusing mostly on his role as team organizer than to score. It will probably be tough for him to come back at his initial level but he should be a correct Bundesliga PG for the next years.
Robert Oehle did only play 5 minutes despite having come up with some nice statistical efforts over the last games. Oehle, a 1988 born 2m09 tall Center, features a massive body in the paint going hard for rebounding and scoring close to the basket. However, with the arrival of a new US center to supply an injured team mate, the playing time for Oehle will probably be reduced again.