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U16 European Championship 2014: the Guards

September 8th, 2014 · No Comments

We start our review of the U16 European Championship with a focus on the guards. As always, we do not go that much into details as these players are still very young and a lot of their development is still difficult to foresee. Additionally, it has to be noted that I did not see all the teams play so that there some prospects missing in the reports.

Frank Ntilikina – 1m90 – PG – 1998 – France

The Starting PG for the French team displayed a very interesting physical profile with good size and a great wingspan. Athletically, Ntilikina showed good speed but lacks probably top level explosiveness off two feet. However, he has a really nice three-point shot, especially in catch and shoot situations so that you cannot let him alone behind the arc which is the case with so many young French guards. Ntilikina can also attack the close-out or play Pick-and-Roll situations where he went for some nice wrap-around passes. His drives rarely went until the hoop and he preferred to finish on a floater where his touch was however not great. His control of the game speed was excellent and he was one of the main reasons why France played such a great team basketball on offense. With his physical abilities, he will certainly develop into one of the most interesting guards in Europe over the next years.

Stats: 7.4ppg (41.4% 3FGs), 1.6rpg, 2.0apg

Abdoulaye N’Doye – 1m95 – SG – 1998 – France

Coming from the bench, Abdoulaye N’Doye was another impressive guard for the French team. Gifted with a huge wingspan and excellent size, he played some kind of combo-guard excelling on both ends of the floor. With his long arms and great lateral speed, N’Doye was a stopper on defense and was particularly effective in the passing lanes. Offensively, he was living mainly from his aggressive drive to the basket where he liked to finish at the rim. He can also find team mates on the kick-outs or on the dish to the big guy on help rotations. His footwork allows him to go for some difficult finishes in traffic but also to be able to stop on a two feet jump stop to go for different pass or shot fakes. Overall, N’Doye looks like a top-level prospect with his presence on both ends of the floor and his physical profile that is not yet fully developed.

Stats: 5.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.3apg, 2.0spg

Adam Mokoka – 1m88 – SG – 1998 – France

Adam Mokoka was probably the best defender of the whole tournament. The physical French guard was a real stopper on this level with his superb lateral speed and excellent positioning in defense. Not the guy that speculates in the passing lanes, Mokoka is a classical 1-1 defender who puts his opponent in difficult shooting positions or simply denies them from having the ball. On the offensive end, his impact was smaller but he was far away from being a liability. The tough guard can attack the basket on the drive with excellent accelerations and is a finisher off two feet close to the basket where he uses his body well to score against the taller players. It has to be seen how Mokoka develops on the offensive end as his defensive potential is superb.

Stats: 4.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 1.0spg

Victor Moreno – 1m91 – SG – 1998 – Spain

The main driver in the Spanish backcourt has been Victor Moreno. Gifted with a superb motor, Moreno was constantly moving off the ball in order to get open and he did an excellent job to read situations on curls. When he has the ball, the Spanish guard likes to attack the basket at full speed and has excellent control over his body and the ball. He can go for direction changes or spins at full speed and finds a way to get close to the hoop. But he is also able to stop in mid-range to come up with the technically perfect pull-up jump shot. However, Moreno struggled throughout the whole tournament to shoot with high percentages. His three-point shot was very streaky despite good shooting technique and he had sometimes problems to finish against the taller players. However, he did a good job in drawing fouls so that he spent some time on the free-throw line. Athletically and speed-wise, he reminded me of Sergio Llull which can be underlined by the fact that he was able to reject some shots on the driving layups of his opponents.

Stats: 12.1ppg (36.9% FGs), 4.6rpg, 1.4apg, 1.4spg, 3.4topg

Pol Figueras – 1m87 – PG – 1998 – Spain

Pol Figueras looked like the brain of the Spanish U16 National Team during the tournament in Riga. The Point Guard played always under control and displayed a natural leadership in organizing the Spanish offense. His impact was beyond his scoring and he was one of the better passer of the tournament. Figueras liked to attack the gaps on defense and was not afraid to go all the way to the hoop despite some athletic limitations. He was more the kind of player that found the open guy in the set play than creating help situations for the dish. Figueras played the best when the score was tied and the game came to an end. He is not afraid at all to take the big shots in the crucial moments or go for the play that is needed in the decisive moments. Figueras should develop into a classical Spanish PG who should be able to become a regular contributor on the ACB level in the future.

Stats: 11.2ppg (41.1% FGs), 2.7rpg, 4.1apg, 1.9spg, 3.7topg

Aleksandar Aranitovic – 1m95 – SG – 1998 – Serbia

Aranitovic was probably one of the most impressive guards from an individual point of view in the tournament. The Serbian guard has a well-developed body that he could use on this level to dominate physically against weaker guards. Therefore, he was very hard to defend on the drive and he could easily go all the way to the basket for the finish. He has a good first step as well that helps him to get open on the drive and to create his shot at will. His jump shot out of the dribble is technically on a very high level and with his feet set, his three-point looks automatic. Nevertheless, he was unable to shot with high percentages throughout the tournament but he was probably fatigued already after a long summer. Defensively, he is very present as a rebounder (best rebounder of his team) but is great in the passing lanes as well. Once again, his overdeveloped experience for his age and a strong body help him in this area. Aranitovic has all the tools to become a great scoring guard in the future and it would not be a surprise to see him at the highest level quite soon.

Stats: 15.9ppg (40.4% FGs – 28.8% 3FGs), 5.1rpg, 3.8apg, 3.7spg

Kristers Zoriks – 1m87 – PG – 1998 – Latvia

The Latvian Point Guard was elected into the All-Tournament team which was more a result of his overall play than the stats. Zoriks plays under good control and organizes the offense of his team as well. His head is up all the time and his good ball handling allows him to see the whole court and recognize the game situations. With his strong dribbles, he can create space really well in order to come up with jump shots from the mid-range territory from where he is very effective. More a scorer than a passer, Zoriks likes the big shots but forces sometimes a bit too much for his own options. His three-point shot is technically well developed and he came up with excellent percentages throughout the event. When he attacks the basket, he sees the cutters quite well and his overall passing technique allows him to come up with precise dishes to his team mates when they are open. He remains calm and under control on every situation and he should develop into one of the most interesting Latvian guards over the next years.

Stats: 10.7ppg (37.7% FGs – 42.9% 3FGs), 2.8rpg, 3.2apg, 0.9spg

Kostja Mushidi – 1m94 – SG – 1998 – Germany

After having shown his talent during the JBBL Top4 several months ago, the U16 European Championship was a great occasion for the German guard to put his name on the table in Europe. After a poor outing in the quarter-finals, where the whole German team collapsed, Mushidi was also at the origin of one of the most impressive scoring runs I have seen in a long time in the game for the 7th place. Athletically gifted, Mushidi has a strong body that has however a lot of space to grow over the next years. He is at his best when he can attack the basket where he is able to finish above the rim but also create the help situations and find his team mates. His three-point shot is streaky but he can hit several attempts in a row over short periods. Capable to play multiple positions on this level, Mushidi can develop into a modern backcourt player who can play PG and SG depending on the situation as he has the necessary skill set. The event in Riga certainly helped him to developed mentally as he looked to be “absent” during some phases of the games.

Stats: 17.7ppg (45.5% FGs – 34.8% 3FGs), 5.3rpg, 3.4apg, 1.4spg, 3.6topg

Isaac Bonga – 1m94 – PG – 1999 – Germany

The 1999 born German showed in his limited minutes on the court what kind of potential he has. Extremely fast and well-coordinated, Bonga looks to become a really interesting guard with great size. He is really long and has a great feel for the steals in the passing lanes where he can explode into offensive transition. Bonga attacks the basket really well and tries to finish with either hand close to the rim even if he looks to be a bit hesitant when using his weaker left hand. Bonga can also hit the shot from behind the three-point line even if the ball rotation is a bit sideways after his release. He has not yet the footwork to create a good jump shot out of the dribble and the mid-range game is certainly one of the parts he needs to work on the most. Bonga is still really young but he looks very promising and can develop into a great future option for a German backcourt that lacks size for years.

Stats: 3.1ppg (57.1% FGs), 2.0rpg, 0.6apg, 1.2spg

Edon Maxhuni – 1m83 – PG – 1998 – Finland

The short Finnish guard helped his team to stay in Division A with an all-around presence and by being a constant scoring threat. Despite his physical deficits, Maxhuni likes to go all the way to the hoop and finish close to the rim. He can use the euro-step in traffic as one of his favourite moves to surround defenders and likes to attack the holes in the defense holding the ball like a rugby player. He has also interesting court vision and likes to go for the fancy passes on the drive. When attacking the basket, Maxhuni can finish with either hand and remains under control even when driving at high speed. Until now, when shooting from outside, Maxhuni has some kind of chest shot which will limit him on the next level when playing against taller players. It will be interesting to see which way the Finnish guard goes as he has a bag full of talent and mixed with the traditional Finnish fighting spirit, he should be able to develop into an interest player down the road.

Stats: 16.4ppg (43.4% FGs – 40.9% 3FGs), 3.3rpg, 3.2apg, 4.8topg

Lorenzo Bucarelli – 1m94 – SG/PG – 1998 – Italy

Lorenzo Bucarelli was a quite special player as he had to operate on the wing (or even as PF) for the undersized Italian team even if he had passing skills like a point guard. Overall, Bucarelli displayed fantastic court-vision especially when he played the drive-and-kick game but he was also able to go for the cross court or above-the-zone passes to find the open man. Next to his excellent passing, the 1m94 tall guard is also present in other parts of the game. He likes to go for defensive rebounds and can also attack the basket on the offensive end and create his shot from mid-range. He is capable of running the Pick and Roll as a ball handler but he is not dangerous from behind the arc which limits his offensive potential. If he can develop a regular shot from the three-point territory, Bucarelli should be able to have a nice future on the highest Italian level.

Stats: 9.7ppg (42.2% FGs – 6.7% 3FGs), 4.1rpg, 4.4apg, 1.8spg, 1.8topg

Ömer Al – 1m81 – PG – 1998 – Turkey

One of the shortest players in the tournament, Ömer Al impressed though with superb passing skills and a great attitude on the court. Al showed some really good drive and dish action as his close to the floor playing style helped him to beat his defender in 1-1 situations on a regular basis and create help rotations that he used to find the cutters or the big men. In the Pick and Roll, he can find the roller with the perfect wrap around pass but also come up with the jump shot on his own. He showed some interesting range from behind the arc but he mainly uses the drive to be a threat offensively. He also knows how to go for the steal as he is an excellent ball thief on the dribble. Overall, Al looks like an interesting player for the future even though that his size might hinder him from developing into a top level talent on the Point Guard position in the future.

Stats: 9.4ppg (49.2% FGs), 2.9rpg, 6.7apg, 2.7aspg, 3.3topg

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