European Prospects

News about Young European Basketball Prospects

ASVEL builds a French future

May 26th, 2010 · 2 Comments

With the signing of Kim Tillie this Tuesday, the French team of ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne has brought the next high-quality prospect to their team after having confirmed the arrival of Leo Westermann a few days ago. With the already under contract Bangaly Fofana, Paul Lacombe, Thomas Heurtel and Edwin Jackson and some interesting young players growing with the youth sections, it was time to take a closer look at all these interesting prospects that are being guided by Vincent Collet in the next years.

Collet spoke about his recruitment in an interview for the club’s homepage and here are the most interesting parts concerning the young players.

What can you tell us about Kim Tillie?

Kim is an athlete. He is very tall and can move very well which makes him a real potential to become a modern basketball player of high level. He is PF with energy, particularly on the rebound, and a good shot even if he did not have the possibility to show it that much with Utah where he was playing in a very strict system with very little personal initiative allowed. That’s mainly the principal challenge for him: the discovery of the professional world and its expectations and therefore the satisfaction of what we want him to achieve. The expectations will be high because we believe in the potential of somebody who has been European Champion and Bronze Medalist at the World Championships with his generation.

With Kim Tillie joining Paul Lacombe, Bangaly Fofana, Edwin Jackson and Leo Westermann, ASVEL is building a really young team. Is this done by conviction or because of lack of other possibilities?

We have announced that we are going to build a younger team. This is my philosophy. It is not in contrary with the expectation of results. All the files on which we advanced this spring turned in a positive way for us. That’s good for the future. We have now a group of players with high potential and which are all under contract for at least two years. And I don’t want to forget Thomas Heurtel who is still under contract with us for three more years. But Thomas does not want to accept a back-up role. As we can not guarantee him a starting job immediately, he will be loaned for another season. I expect from all these players that they will bring enthusiasm and freshness, values that we missed sometimes this season. Additionally, we fulfill future recruitment needs with having already now the necessary number of Home Grown Players. We have now all our back-ups and can start to build our “real” Starting Five in a very open market of American players.

Don’t you think that these young players will offer you some negative surprises?

We know three of the five players very well as they have played with us this season. We are not moving into unknown territory with them. Kim has shown good potential with the National Team and at Utah and we followed him over the last two years. For Leo, the situation is different. He is from the next generation only and we give him more time even if we are convinced that he can contribute quickly. We know exactly what are the forces and weaknesses of the guys so that our goal is to find five experienced players with complementary qualities to the five youngsters. We have of course no possibilities to take the wrong pieces for this puzzle in order to avoid putting the youngsters into difficult situations or urgency of result.

So far what Collet is saying about his young guns. Here is short recap on the five players that will be on the ASVEL roster for next season.

  • Leo Westermann: will probably only play with the Espoirs team next season as he is recovering from a severe knee injury. His goal will be to become the leader of the team in the next years as the 92 born player is a real presence on the court and was a major piece of the French Silver Medal at the U18 European Championships last summer.
  • Edwin Jackson: after a season with Rouen where the son of Skeeter Jackson played major minutes and could work on his scoring talent, the guard needs now to become a booster coming from the bench. Collet had him already in his preliminary group for the Senior National Team last summer and it seems that he is awaiting a lot from the athletic back-court player.
  • Paul Lacombe: cracked the rotation a bit by surprise last season and played more minutes as the season went on. The versatile guard can play the PG position and should be used as a back-up to bring the necessary size and surprising athletic abilities to the back court. The 1990 born player is somebody to watch in 2010/2011.
  • Kim Tillie: athletic wing with a nice shot from around the key, especially from the baseline. He is used to play a back-up role as he did it with the French Youth National Teams for years. The son of former professional volleyball playing parents has the necessary athletic abilities for the French league but may need some time to find his marks after four years in the United States.
  • Bangaly Fofana: long and athletic center that had some impact this season already when given playing time, especially as a shot blocker and finisher close to the basket. He has entered his name to the NBA Draft pool this year and will probably play at the Adidas Eurocamp in June.

The situation of Thomas Heurtel remains the same than a few weeks ago when we had already a longer article on him. Collet is not sure about him being a starter for his team right now and as Heurtel does not want to be a back-up, he will not play for ASVEL in 2010/2011.

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