European Prospects

News about Young European Basketball Prospects

U17 World Championship 2010: Poland

July 15th, 2010 · No Comments

We start our review of the European teams that participated to the U17 World Championship with Poland. The team that finished 4th at the U16 European Championship in 2009 now won the Silver Medal and showed clearly the best progress of all the European teams that were present.

Przemyslaw Karnowski – 2m12 – C – 1993 – Katarzynka Torun

The Polish giant earned a totally deserved All-Tournament Team spot after having already shown his excellent talent during the U16 European Championship in Lithuania. During the days in Hamburg, Karnowski presented himself in a better basketball shape than one year ago. He still has a massive body but he improved his speed dramatically especially on the defensive end where he is now able to move laterally quicker than 12 months ago. He still is not a big-time athlete at all, compared to other European Centers, he is even below average but he has by far the most impressive and large body of the the players of the tournament except for the United States.

On the offensive end, Karnwoski is doing the most of his damage when playing in the low block with his back to the basket. He has a multitude of different moves and fakes but has a preference for going on his left hand and starting with a dribble. He likes to attack with 1-2 dribbles and then go for a fake that is followed by one or two turns until he feels open enough to finish with the jump hook from the top or the power-layup from the baseline. His right hand is not as developed and soft and he missed a couple of close ones when trying to go for the jump hook for example. He showed though some dribble attacks with his right hand coming from the top of the key when he had the feeling to be faster than his opponent which was however not the case too often. Next to his scoring talent, Karnowski is an excellent passer either out of the dribble when attacking the basket or on the kick-out. He recognizes the help situations very well and can play the perfect dish to the opposing cutter. Karnowski also has a nice jump shot from mid-range and should be able to become even a three-point threat down the line. He is able to score the jump shot also out of the dribble or when being out of balance when attacking the hoop on the drive.

On the defensive side, Karnowski looked really improved as he seemed to be a lot quicker now when he needs to defend back-to-the-basket positions. With his hands raised, he can turn around at good speed in order to put the offensive players in trouble. He is not very foul-prone and looks to do some good decisions on defense. However, against athletic and fast players like those from the United States, Karnowski had a lot of trouble on both ends of the court. He has most likely never faced players of these athletic abilities and was therefore limited to only 3pts but also 4 personal fouls in the Final of the U17 World Championship.

Stats: 14.5ppg (54.4% 2FGs – 30/40 FTs), 11.0rpg, 2.5apg, 2.0bpg

Mateusz Ponitka – 1m96 – G – 1993 – Polonia 2011 Warszawa

The top scorer of the Polish team has really made a big step forward compared to what I have seen from him last summer in Kaunas. Ponitka was clearly the first option on the offense for the Polish team and he always responded with quality scoring and never giving up. He had an amazing run in the semi-final after a rough start and totally brought back the team into the game at that specific moment. On the other hand, he was not really present in the decisive moments of the semi-final where other players took over.

Offensively, Ponitka’s main asset is his jump shot. He likes to go for the mid-range jumper out of the dribble and he can hit the shots in series. He is an excellent three-point shooter as well and his mechanics look perfect with a good high release point. Being a good athlete for European standards helps him also to attack the basket on the drive and go to the free-throw line on a regular basis. He has good fakes to get open and his first step looks interesting. Ponitka is mainly a scorer but can also create opportunities for his team mates when he attacks the basket.

Defensively, he reads the passing lines nicely so that he comes up with a nice amount of steals which he finishes well on the fast break, also with dunks.With his athletic abilities, lateral speed and feel for the interception, he should be able to develop into a very interesting defensive player in the next years.

Stats: 19.0ppg (62.7% 2FG – 34.0% 3FG – 27/39 FTs), 3.9rpg, 2.4apg, 2.0spg

Tomasz Gielo – 2m04 – F – 1993 – Trojka Kos Szczecin

If there would have been a Sixth-Man-Award, Tomasz Gielo would have been among the favorites for sure. The athletic forward is most likely the player that showed the most progress since last summer in the Polish team. The left handed Power Forward runs the floor very well and is really present on both ends of the floor. He is not afraid to go for the tough dunk even against bigger players than himself.

Offensively, Gielo showed good improvement on the drive where he is now able to beat his defender with his left hand. His right hand still needs some additional development as he barely uses it at the moment. His jump shot goes out until the three point line from where he can hit the occasional one, especially from the corner. His future should be on the SF position as he has the necessary athletic abilities and the handles to become an interesting player. On defense, Gielo is a nice shot blocker but needs to improve his individual and team defense as he lacks probably the necessary concentration over the full game. However, he remains one of the most interesting players for the future of the whole Polish team.

Stats: 13.8ppg (63.9% 2FG – 17.6% 3FG), 6.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.4bpg

Filip Matczak – 1m84 – G – 1993 – Zastal Zielona Gora

Another interesting left handed player on the Polish team was Filip Matczak. The guard really stepped up in the semi-finals where he acted as a leader and helped his team to qualify for the Gold Medal game. Mainly used as a combo-guard, he needs to develop his PG skills if he wants to become a full-time playmakwer as he lacks the necessary height to defend SG on the highest level. He has improved his ball handling since last summer, especially on his right hand. Matczak showed some excellent drives to the basket that he finished also in tough situations with the foul. He has an excellent shooting touch and showed this also with a couple of long floaters from the baseline. When he can improve his court-vision and become a better passer, he is probably the future Nr1 Point Guard of this Polish generation.

Stats: 5.5ppg (48.0% 2FG – 27.3% 3FG), 2.5rpg, 1.2apg

Piotr Niedzwiedzki – 2m06 – F – 1993 – WKK Wroclaw

The athletic PF was probably the only player of the Polish team where no real progress could be seen at first sight. With his great body structure and height, Niedzwiedzki remains though an excellent prospect for the PF position and he probably had his best game in the final where he had similar athletic specimens as opposition. He showed throughout the different games an excellent defensive effort but he put himself more than once in foul trouble because of a certain over-activity trying to steal balls or reject shots. The impressive progress of Gielo limited his number and offensive contribution for the team but he remains a major factor on defense to compensate the athletic limits of Karnowski.

Stats: 7.1ppg (57.9% 2FG – 25.0% 3FG – 100% FTs), 4.4rpg, 1.0bpg

Michal Michalak – 1m94 – G – 1993 – Polonia 2011 Warszawa

Michalak was the second back-court scorer of the Polish team but his impact decreased with the importance of the games. While he averaged 15.5ppg until the quarter-final, he managed to score only 11 points combined in the last two games. Michalak does an excellent job off the ball in order to get open. He can curl very well around the screens to get the pass from the opposite side and either go immediately for the jump shot or attack the basket with both hands. However, Michalak must improve his ball handling where he struggles sometimes when being defended hard. He has nice court-vision and can dish the ball to his big men when attacking the basket.

Stats: 13.0ppg (51.0% 2FG – 36.7% 3FG), 4.6rpg, 2.1apg

Daniel Szymkiewicz – 1m92 – G – 1994 – WKK Wroclaw

The youngest player of the Polish team, Szymkiewicz is born in November 1994 and was therefore only 15 years old during the tournament, is a player to follow over the next years. He showed his two best games against the most athletic teams of the tournament (Canada + USA). The 1m92 tall PG attacks the basket very well and he is not afraid at all. He may be a bit naive against the press but he will hopefully learn how to break aggressive defenses with the dribble or the pass.

Stats: 4.2ppg (52.6% FG), 1.2rpg, 1.0apg, 1.6spg

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