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U18 European Championship 2011: the Wings

September 19th, 2011 · No Comments

After the guards, here is the report on the most interesting wing players from the U18 European Championship 2011 in Wroclaw.

Marko Ramljak – 2m03 – SF/PF – 1993 – Croatia

The Croatian forward continues to develop into one of the more versatile players of his generation. In Poland, he showed once again his well known skill set based around a great energy and motor, interesting and strong drives and good athletic abilities. Ramljak who should have a future on the Small Forward position can attack the basket very well, especially on his right hand. He likes to change his speed on the penetration and can go with the extra long steps in order to avoid the defenders. After having grown up in Bosnia, Ramljak is playing now since last season in Croatia for KK Zagreb where he should see more playing time in 2011-2012.

The athletic wing needs to become more regular from behind the arc in order to have a really full offensive package. Physically, he could use a bit more weight as he gets bounced around a bit too easily when he attacks the basket hard. He is though not afraid to dunk on the defense if he sees the opening. Overall, Ramljak has quite an interesting court-vision for a player of his size. This helps him to find the cutters on the baseline particularly well either in high-low situations or on the drives. He likes to push the basketball on the fast break and play in a role of point-forward in these situations. Despite being not the biggest player on the court, he knows how to use his body well in order to get open or to protect the ball.

Ramljak has a really good feel for the game on both sides of the court. He likes to play in the passing lines on defense to get the deflections by using his excellent reactions and speed. With his lateral speed, Ramljak can defend several positions and can also develop into a good defensive player in the future. He showed some vocal leadership during the games that we saw him in Poland but he does not look to be a real leader on the court. Nevertheless, he should become quickly an important player even on the senior level as he has all the necessary physical tools and size to play on the professional level.

Stats: 11.9ppg (42.7% 2FGs – 9.1% 3FGs), 6.2rpg, 3.1apg, 2.4spg, 3.2topg

Mislav Brzoja – 1m98 – SF/SG – 1994 – Croatia

The Croatian forward started really well into the tournament but regressed in his performances during the Final round where I followed him. You could see his talent but overall, the impression was not really great because of poor shot selection and multiple frustration outings. The 1994 born player decided to move to the United States in order to find a scholarship in the future. With his good size and sweet shot, that should not be a major problem for him as he has excellent scoring skills and can also handle the ball on Pick and Roll situations. He could even develop into a back-court player in the future as he has some passing skills and is far away from being a uni-dimensional scorer. But during the games that I saw in Poland, he was not at his best.

Stats: 13.7ppg (45.6% 2FGs – 38.6% 3FGs), 5.7rpg, 2.1apg, 2.1spg, 3.4topg

Alex Abrines – 1m98 – Small Forward – 1993 – Spain

When the name of the MVP of the tournament has been announced after the final, there were only a few people in attendance who expected Alex Abrines. I have to admit that I have been surprised as well. Abrines is not the player that you see the first on the court. But when you analyze the games a bit more, you see that he was everywhere. He did not only lead the Gold Medal team in scoring but was also their best ball stealer and more surprisingly (once again) shot blocker. The forward of Unicaja Malaga is the type of player that you want to have in your team as he helps out everywhere without doing a lot of noise.

From a physical point of view, Abrines is a nicely athletic and lanky forward with a good wingspan and good speed. Not particularly physical, he should be able though to add some weight in the future but he does not really need to as his future will most likely be on the SG position. Overall, he has a nice feel for the game and his shot selection during the days in Poland was excellent. His three-point shot was among the best in the tournament as he has a good quick release and fluid movement. He can attack the basket with either hand and can also score with his left hand against the big guys in the paint. Out of his drive, he remains under control and can adapt to what the defense gives him.

On the defensive end, Abrines has great lateral speed and is constantly pressuring his opponent. With his long arms and athletic abilities, he can develop into an excellent defender on the senior level and his timing for blocking shots will certainly be an additional asset for him. Without having a specific go-to-move on offense, Abrines will however develop into a regular contributor on ACB level in a short time. The player of Unicaja Malaga will make the next step this season when increasing his playing time on the LEB Gold level and we might even see him with Unicaja’s senior team on several occasions.

Stats: 13.1ppg (62.5% 2FGs – 41.5% 3FGs), 4.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.8spg, 1.1bpg

Daniel Diez – 1m99 – Forward – 1993 – Spain

Next to Abrines, Daniel Diez could have been a tournament MVP as well as the energetic Spanish forward averaged a double-double in Poland. Diez excelled in rebounding situations where he was extremely present as he grabbed more than 10 boards per game in just 26 minutes on the court. Without being particularly tall or athletic, Diez has an excellent timing mixed with a great motor and will to get every ball. He was very effective in this domain on both ends of the court as he reads the shots very well in order to anticipate through his positioning. Additionally, he has a very quick second jump which helps him a lot, especially on the offensive end where he is present through several tip-in attempts.

Offensively, he has two major options next to his rebounding presence, the left handed drive and the three-point shot in catch-and-shoot situations. Out of his drive, that he starts with a good first step, he mostly goes until the rim for the finish close to the basket. He can come up with the surprising dish on the penetration play but he does not really look for that option most of the time. His jump shot from the three-point line looks good without being superbly quick in the execution. But he has a good accuracy from behind the arc. You could rarely see Diez take a jump shot from mid-range so it is more difficult to say if that is another part of his game. He moves well without the ball as it has been mentioned already above for rebounding situations but this is also true for the offensive situations in general.

Next to his importance in the defensive rebounding sector, Diez has also an impact on other parts of the defense. He reads well what the offense wants to play and is therefore very good in anticipating the situations for getting the steal or the charge. He can also come up with the block shot from the help side but he is not a major shot blocker on the man. Diez, who plays for Real Madrid, will probably struggle to become a factor on the professional level though as he lives for the moment mainly from his energy level and rebounding presence. He does not have the necessary size for playing the inside positions in the future and his ball handling is not developed enough yet for the Small Forward positions on the highest level.

Stats: 12.2ppg (46.6% 2FGs – 41.9% 3FGs), 10.4rpg, 1.6spg

Samet Geyik – 2m03 – SF/PF – 1993 – Turkey

One of the players of the Turkish team that stood out on the wing positions was the 2m03 tall Samet Geyik. The forward from Tofas Bursa had a good overall presence for his team but did nothing really outstanding in the different parts of the game. He can play either with his back to the basket or by facing the basket. In the low post, he has a variety of effective moves to score on the hook shot or to create the space to finish on a layup. When playing from outside, he can attack with his left hand and finish on the tear drop but rarely comes up with the mid-range play out of the dribble. He sees the cutters on the back door and hit the jump shot from 5 meters in catch-and-shoot situations as well.

Stats: 9.9ppg (50.8% 2FGs – 45.5% 3FGs), 4.6rpg

Joonas Caven – 2m11 – Small Forward – 1993 – Finland

The Finnish forward is worth being mentioned here as he features very good size and some interesting skills. 2m11 tall wing players are of course always interesting and Caven is not an exception as he is a really fluid player with good shooting mechanics. He can score the basketball from nearly everywhere on the court but lacks real toughness and basketball understanding. His pure skill set is looking very good but during the games, he had sometimes problems to make the right choices. His intensity level was low compared to the rest of his team and the decision to move to Spain is certainly a positive factor for his future development as he needs to face serious competition on a regular basis to improve. He is a player to follow on the long term in order to see if he can transform his undeniable talent into a skillset capable of having an impact on the professional level.

Stats: 13.9ppg (30.1% 2FGs – 25.8% 3FGs), 5.1rpg, 2.4spg

Paul Zipser – 1m99 – SF/PG – 1994 – Germany

From the German team, we wanted to focus on the forward Paul Zipser who has been designated recently by the German coaching staff as one of the future options on the PG position. Zipser has a great athletic skill set with good speed and nice leaping ability. He runs the court very well and can dunk without any problem on the drive. He was mostly used as a small forward during the only game we saw but you could easily recognize why he is predicted as a Point Guard. His ball handling skills are good and the court-vision is there as well. He finds the cutters and can hit the long range shot as well. On the defensive end, he needs to improve his lateral speed in order to stay in front of the smaller guards but he can come up with the block shot after being passed. One year younger than the competition, Zipser is expected to have some good impact on the German ProA level right from this season and he will certainly be a team leader of the U18 National Team next summer.

Stats: 9.6ppg (53.1% 2FGs – 46.2% 3FGs), 4.8rpg, 1.0apg, 0.6bpg

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