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Albert Schweitzer Tournament 2012: the Guards

April 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

With a little bit of delay, we start today our detailed review of the players that reached the Top 8 of the Albert Schweitzer Tournament with their respective teams. Traditionally, the review starts with the guards where a lot of top prospects have been present.

Boris Dallo – 1m95 – PG – France – 1994

We have seen the French guard at the NIJT in Belgrade where he played full-time PG. In Mannheim, Dallo was also the starting PG of the French National Team and this with the known strengths and weaknesses. Super elegant and athletic, Dallo floats through the gaps on defense when attacking the basket with his left hand. It is still quite surprising to see a right-handed player attack constantly off his left hand and using his weak hand as well for the most difficult layups and floaters. He showed some nice long range scores as well but his playmaking skills remain raw on this level. He was not able to organize the team and handle the game speed as expected which might be an explication for the below-average result for France. If he continues his learning process though and shows continuous improvements over the next years, he might be one of the most interesting long-term projects on the PG position in Europe.

Stats: 12.0ppg (42.1% FGs – 50.0% 3FGs), 5.5rpg, 3.2apg, 2.3topg, 12.7effpg

Anthony Racine – 1m90 – SG – France – 1994

Racine had a very strange tournament as he always came from the bench for the French National team despite being their best scoring potential. But he did not only come from the bench, he also had limited minutes only. I do not know if he was injured or if it were tactical reasons, but Racine showed great scoring talent in the back court. He was the only serious threat from the three-point line for his team on a regular basis. He was able to fire long rangers in series and have some scoring outbursts over short periods. When his shot is falling, he is really tough to guard as he has a good first step and can finish the drive with the floater or go to the rim. He lacks high-level athleticism though but has a strong body which allows him to compensate this. He needs to improve his ball handling in the future to be less turnover prone on his drives and he can have a very future as combo-guard in the next years.

Stats: 9.7ppg (52.8% FGs – 50.0% 3FGs), 1.3rpg, 7.2effpg, 13.0mpg

Josep Perez – 1m88- PG – Spain – 1994

Looking like a child in his Spanish team, Perez was nevertheless the leader on the court and controlled his players nearly to perfection. Excellent understanding of the game and tempo control are two of his multiple assets on the court. Perez likes to attack the basket and play among the big guys. On his drives, he often finishes with the floater in the pure JuanCa Navarro style, even from longer distances. Being pretty thin and not overly athletic, Perez knows that he will struggle to score against the big guys close to the basket so that he made the tear-drop his trademark shot. But not only can he score from mid-range with this option, his jump shot out of the dribble is also good even if his preference goes to the floater. If his shot making is sometimes creative, Perez is not so much the high level assist man. He finds his team mates under the basket, often also in highlight-reel fashion but he remains a tempo control and score-first point guard, at least on this level.

His three point shot is deadly at certain moments and he is not afraid to use it at a high rate, also in crucial moments of the games. On the fast break, the three-point shot is an option for him as well especially if there is one big guy already in transition defense. He recognizes game situations very well and mostly takes the right decisions out of it. Perez sees the defense coming and acts in relation what it gives him. You could see him for example stop on a drive to make a turn around jump hook from 3 meters to avoid the shot blocker. The Spanish guard is playing with the FC Barcelona senior team where he saw some minutes on the ACB or Euroleague level already. This underlines how high the hopes are on this electric guard. The Spanish National Teams and the Catalan club will have a lot of success with him in the next years for sure.

Stats: 10.6ppg (38.7% FGs – 38.2% 3FGs), 1.9rpg, 2.6apg, 2.3topg, 8.3effpg

Albert Homs – 2m00 – SG/PG – Spain – 1994

The tall Spanish combo-guard played a very nice tournament in Mannheim. Using his size well and being also a creative factor, the minutes that Homs earns with Joventut Badalona are key to his development. He can score in a variety of ways due to his size but shows especially a very nice and fluid shot. He is able to come up also with difficult shots like the long step back two for example. Homs has to use this kind of options as he has a quite low but quick release for a player of his size which makes him prone of being blocked. His basketball fundamentals are great, he plays under great technical control and can go for the perfect jump shot out of the dribble or score out of the triple-threat position with the up and under scoop shot.

Homs mainly played Shooting Guard or even Small Forward for Spain in the tournament but he has the potential to be used as a Point Guard on the next level. He is not the super creative playmaker though but he has good handles, court-vision and feel for the game speed so that he is able to run a team. It was him who did this job over certain periods of the Final for example. Together with Perez, Homs forms a very exciting back court as he is able to play multiple positions and makes him therefore very valuable for a team. His natural talent for the game should help him in order to guard this versatility on the professional level as well as he is too good to be stacked at a single position.

Stats: 9.6ppg (33.8% FGs – 37.5% 3FGs), 3.1rpg, 1.7apg, 6.9effpg

Nikola Radicevic – 1m94 – PG – Serbia – 1994

The tournament was the show of Nikola Radicevic again. After having played great during the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade where he lead Partizan to the Final, Radicevic did the same with his Serbian team in Mannheim. With Vassilije Micic absent, Radicevic was the clear leader in the Serbian backcourt and underlined his fantastic driving skills. He is able to see the smallest gaps in the defense and attack it to find the necessary space between the defenders and finish on the layup. Not a great athlete but having a good size, Radicevic is able to score against big guys and close the rim with ease and this with great percentages. He is very creative in the way he drives to the basket as he reacts perfectly to what the defense gives him. He avoids the offensive foul with quick spins or direction changes, has great ball handling but can also stop at 3 meters to take the jump shot over the defender.

His three point shot remains questionable though as he is very streaky. Technically, there remains also a progress margin to have a higher release point for example. He scored several long distance shots though, mainly after creating them himself after a screen or in a Pick and Roll situation. Defensively, Radicevic needs to work as well in order to become a factor on the professional level. Not really active, he should be able to have more impact on that side on the court as he has the physical tools to be a good defensive player. It will be interesting to see how many minutes he will see with Partizan in the next season as it would give an indication of his high level potential.

Stats: 16.4ppg (46.7% FGs – 23.1% 3FGs), 3.7rpg, 3.1apg, 4.0topg, 12.4effpg

Mikhail Kulagin – 1m88 – PG/SG – Russia – 1994

The younger brother of Dmitry Kulagin did not only look physically quite similar to his brother but had also a similar game. Maybe less wild in his overall decision making but also less athletic probably, Kulagin was the back court scoring leader of the Russian team. He has a quick release on his shot and he is able to go for the catch-and-shoot on a high catch without any problem. He drives well to the basket and is not afraid of going to the hoop and attacking the big guys. Out of the dribble, he is able to create his own shot with ease and his size makes him a very valuable asset on the SG spot as well. Defensively, he did not put the most effort to the court but he did a good job in reading the passing lanes so that he came up with several good steals to run the fast break.

Stats: 17.8ppg (42.9% FGs – 43.9% 3FGs), 6.3rpg, 2.0apg, 3.5topg, 15.2effpg

Stevie Clark – 1m80 – PG – USA – 1994

Clearly the back court leader for the American team, Stevie Clark was a thick but quick scoring first point guard who attacked the basket relentlessly. His three-point shot was quite streaky but he could come up with impressive series of long distance bombs. Rather small for the highest level, he has a natural scoring touch that will most likely help him to have a great NCAA career and eventually a professional future in Europe.

Stats: 19.8ppg (45.3% FGs – 44.7% 3FGs), 4.5rpg, 3.2apg, 16.7effpg

Matteo Imbro – 1m88 – PG – Italy – 1994

One of the most mature players of the whole tournament in terms of decision making was the Italian PG Matteo Imbro. He impressed us already during the U18 European Championship last summer where he stepped up when Ohio State recruit Amedeo della Valle got injured. Imbro has everything to become a true floor general with a good shot, excellent court-vision, mature decision making, driving skills, size and game tempo control. Having his head up all the time to see what is going on, Imbro gives the impression to have always the total control of the game. He likes to play the Pick and Roll situation and can find the inside players with spectacular no-look passes. He can also come up with the three-point shot out of these situations that he is able to make with good percentages.

Imbro reads game situations really well and has one eye on the shot clock at every moment. He understands whom to give the ball and when to attack by himself. He works hard on the passing angles, especially to feed his big guys in the low post. Out of the drive, which he can play with either hand, he mostly goes for some mid-range options with the jump shot or the floater. He feels less comfortable when attacking the rim and prefers to use his stronger right hand most of the time. His limited athleticism prevents him from finishing hard close the basket and underlines his overall more finesse game. He reads very well what the defense gives him and he is not afraid to post up smaller defenders if needed.

Defensively, he is present without being an aggressive stopper as his physical volume remains limited for the moment. His looks rather long as he is not very large from his body but he seems to have finished his growing phase only recently as we had the impression that he was taller than last summer. Imbro looks like one of the most promising PG prospects of his generation in all of Europe. He needs to work on the physical aspect of his game but also go for a better shot selection at moments as he likes to fire up very long three-point shots that sometimes come a bit too early or seem to be inappropriate to the situation. Nevertheless, his future looks bright and we should see him on the international level in the next years.

Stats: 11.8ppg (33.3% FGs – 30.6% 3FGs), 5.0rpg, 6.7apg, 3.8topg, 14.2effpg

Mirko Turel – 1m90 – SG – Italy – 1994

Turel was a bit the opposite of Imbro as he was a very physical defender and energy guy. Less elegant than his PG companion, Turel had the job to shut down opposing guards with hard-nosed defense and a lot of energy. On the offensive side, Turel showed some excellent drives to the basket where he was also able to finish with the foul. He can create his own shot but might be a bit small to play the SG position on the highest level as he did not show any kind of PG skills during the tournament in Mannheim.

Stats: 13.7ppg (36.7% FGs – 32.4% 3FGs), 2.8rpg, 7.3effpg

Ismet Akpinar – 1m90 – PG – Germany – 1995

It was not the best tournament for the 1995 born German hope. Labeled as one of the best clutch players in youth basketball, Akpinar suffered during moments against the more physical and taller players in the tournament. This had as effect that he sometimes made some erratic choices and run into a defensive wall. He adapted though throughout the tournament and showed some good plays down the road. Akpinar is able to split defenses with good ball handling and is not afraid at all. He scored a very tough layup in a critical situation with surprising hangtime against a 2m05 tall player for example.

The Hamburg based player can also come up with the mid-range options for the jump shot where he seems very accurate in his execution. His shot mechanics look good overall and quickly executed. After a first season in the German ProB, we expect him to have a lot more effect in Autumn and eventually develop into one most best prospects in his position of the 95 generation next season.

Stats: 8.4ppg (40.4% FGs – 33.3% 3FGs), 3.0rpg, 1.7apg, 6.9effpg

Dominic Lockhart – 1m97 – SG/PG – Germany – 1994

Dominic Lockhart played a very nice tournament in Mannheim where the tall guard showed great versatility on both ends of the floor. Physically impressive with an excellent wingspan and good athletic abilities, Lockhart can play multiple back court positions and showed good playmaking skills in crucial situations of the games. His physical attributes help him to be a big factor on the defensive end where he can put a lot of pressure on the passing lanes.

Offensively, Lockhart mostly attacked the basket but he was not a big factor in the German offense throughout the tournament. However, his jump shot and mechanics look good and he is able to knock down shots from behind the arc with a nice high release. With his good handles, he can put the ball on the floor to drive to the basket but seems sometimes a bit naïve in his decision making in the paint. In general though, he plays under a lot of control and does not make many mistakes on the court. He might need to become a bit more aggressive on the offensive end to be a bigger factor in the games. But this was most likely not his role in this team.

Stats: 5.1ppg (47.8% FGs – 25.0% 3FGs), 3.9rpg, 2.3apg, 8.6effpg

Tayfun Erülkü – 1m96 – SG/PG – Turkey – 1994

The Turkish guard played a very interesting tournament as he was next to Radicevic probably the guard that was the most unstoppable. Erülkü attacked the basket continuously and with great success. With multiple direction changes and using both of his hands, he could reach the basket on multiple occasions to score from very close. But he was also able to hit the jump shot from mid range out of the dribble or in catch and shoot situations. He likes to have the ball in his own hands and create scoring opportunities for him self mainly. Erülkü does not look that much for the pass and is really a score first PG/SG.

Physically already quite strong for this level, he has probably reached his maximum potential in that area for some time. Technically and shooting wise, you could see progress from him as he was a serious threat from behind the three-point arc in Mannheim. Mainly known for his driving skills, Erülkü scored a multiple big long distance shots, also in the crucial moments of the game. He killed Germany in the Bronze Medal game with a series of 17 points in less than five minutes where he nailed at least four three-point shots out of the Pick and Roll situations or after a kick out. Defensively, Erülkü can put a lot of pressure on the ball handler and helps a bit in the rebounding situations. With the return of Kenan Sipahi for the European Championship, the Turkish back court looks amazingly talented between Erülkü and the two 95 born prospects Sipahi and Osman.

Stats: 15.3ppg (47.0% FGs – 47.6% 3FGs), 3.4rpg, 3.1apg, 1.4spg, 14.4effpg

Cedi Osman – 1m98 – SG – Turkey – 1995

Cedi Osman was more or less a major surprise to me in this tournament. Amazingly quick and presenting a great size for playing combo-guard, Osman won the Burkhard Wildermuth Award of the most talented player. And this was deserved. He attacks the basket hard and can finish with either hand also out of the euro-step or on the layback. With his great footwork, he is able to avoid the defenders and attack the gaps nicely. He can score from mid range with the floater or the pure pull-up jump shot. With his great speed and size, Osman was an essential factor in the Turkish team as he could grab the defensive rebound and immediately go to the fast break by putting the ball on the floor.

Osman was playing as a full-time SG for the Turkish team but he looks like being able to move to the PG position in the future as well. He needs to become more of an option from behind the three-point line as well even if his shot looks good. He does not use the three-point shot on a regular basis so far and was only able to hit it in catch and shoot situations. Together with Sipahi, Osman is the leader of the Turkish 95 generation and this three-player rotation in the back court will be probably very amazing to see this summer.

Stats: 12.1ppg (64.0% FGs – 45.5% 3FGs), 2.0rpg, 1.3apg, 11.9effpg

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