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NIJT 2011: the other prospects

May 18th, 2011 · No Comments

The Nike International Junior Tournament has been played already several days ago. After having analyzed the game of the MVP of the tournament Dario Saric as well as the other prospects in his team KK Zagreb, we are taking a look today at some of the prospects that have not been that much in the focus during our Qualification tournament reports but shined in Barcelona. We will round up the review with an analysis of some “next generation” prospects in a second article following in the next days.

Stefan Popovski-Turanjanin – 2m01 – SF/PF – FMP Belgrade

Stefan Popovski has definitely established himself as the leader of the current FMP generation. After the departure of Nenad Miljenovic, it is the Small Forward who lead his team in Barcelona but it was not enough to qualify for the Final. However, the Serbian player earned an All-Tournament team spot because of his qualities as a versatile player in a young team. On this level, Popovski can dominate with his physical presence against some teams but he knows that this will not be his future. He has worked on his shot which is now quite accurate. He can hit from outside as well as from mid-range.

Out of the dribble, his jump shot looks as nice as it does in catch-and-shoot situations as the left-hander has very nice mechanics. Even if he takes his attempts sometimes a bit out of balance, he can score with good percentages and is also a good presence in rebounding. The main question for Popovski is what will come next for him. As far as we know, he did not sign a professional contract with FMP Belgrade after his 18th birthday which means that he has still all options open including the NCAA. The last one seems to be his most likely destination according to the latest rumors that we have heard.

Stats: 17.3ppg (58.3% 2FGs – 26.3% 3FGs), 4.3rpg

Erbil Eroglu – 1m95 – PG – Fenerbahce Ülker

The Turkish PG was one of the players that I did not know before coming to Barcelona. With the limited numbers of game that it was possible to scout, I do not know a lot more on him now. However, I want to mention some ideas about him as he has an interesting profile. Being 1m95 tall and having seen minutes already in two Euroleague games this season, Fenerbahce seems to be really high on him and he showed why during the days in Barcelona.

Eroglu has good court vision and finds the open man in the fast break with ease. He likes to attack the basket with a good first step and is a lot more effective in this domain than when he has to take the shot. His ball-handling skills look good right now and he does not lose control that quick. He can make the good pass out of difficult situations and has reduced his turnover ratio nicely compared to the Qualification event in Rome. The Turkish guard prefers though to finish with his stronger right hand even if he attacks the basket from the left side and his athletic abilities are good. It will be interesting to see what he can do this summer with the Turkish National Team and if Fenerbahce will use him already as a regular option next season when they will host the Final Four.

Stats: 8.3ppg (52.9% 2FGs), 3.0rpg, 5.7apg, 1.7bpg

Berkay Candan – 2m05 – SF/PF – Fenerbahce Ülker

Next to Eroglu, Berkay Candan was another player that stood out in the Fenerbahce roster. The 2m05 tall forward looks really long on the court and seems to have an interesting wingspan. He can create for himself or his team mates and showed a good presence on the offensive glass. Candan is not a major force from outside at the moment and prefers to attack the basket. However, he scored some baskets, also in a difficult way, from outside which lets you think that there is some potential to do so in the future on a more regular basis.

The Turkish forward knows also how to use his size and scored several times in the low post by playing with his back to the basket. He finds definitely good positions and does a good job off the ball to be ready for the passes and the score. His reaction time seems very good for a player of his size but he looks a bit slow-footed which hurts him especially on defense where he struggled to guard his opponent in front of him when he played against a quicker forward.

Stats: 20.3ppg (53.3% 2FGs), 8.0rpg, 1.7bpg

Livio Jean-Charles – 2m04 – PF/SF – INSEP

The French athlete showed again a great tournament in Barcelona where he used his above average athletic abilities to be the top player for INSEP. Every time I see him, I have the feeling that he even became more athletic and explosive. Additionally, his shooting mechanics look improved to what we knew from him before. He netted several three pointers in the tournament but he still can come up with the nasty air-ball from the corner a minute later. It is one of the most important things in his development to have a regular shot from outside in order to move to the SF position. Without this, he will be stacked at the PF position for which he might be a bit short to play on NBA level.

Jean-Charles is also rumored to be interested to play College Basketball next season where he would certainly have an immediate impact with his physical profile and experience. He runs the floor very well, can play above the rim and is active at every moment of the game.

Stats: 22.7ppg (67.5% 2FGs – 4/10 3FGs), 7.7rpg, 1.3apg

Andrija Bojic – 2m06 – PF – Crvena Zvezda (loaned from Mega Vizura)

The Serbian big guy was one of the players that we have not seen so far. Rumored to be in contact with UCLA for playing College Basketball, Bojic showed in Barcelona why he is considered as one of the more interesting inside players of this Serbian generation. He is really long with an impressive wingspan, the Mega Vizura player is highly technical despite refusing to use his right hand to finish close to the basket. The 2m06 tall power forward can both play in the paint and attack the basket from outside; during some moments, he even helped his team to bring up the ball against the press defense. Out of these situations, he showed interesting court-vision as well and had a couple of assists down the road.

When playing in the low post, he has a nice arsenal of fakes and moves but prefers to finish only on his left hand. He can finish though with the foul call and uses his fakes very well in order to get open. From outside, Bojic can hit the occasional three-point shot but also put the ball on the floor to attack the basket. His shooting touch looks good, especially from close and he should be able to develop into a correct three-point shooter down the road. His footwork is nicely developed for a player of his size and he is able to change direction or speed when putting the ball on the floor under full control. Athletically, Bojic is not a big factor. He is not really explosive and his speed is correct without being really slow. Physically, he has still some upside as his body could add more muscles in the next years. However, he is a good shot blocker which is mainly explained by his wingspan.

Stats: 16.0ppg (54.2% 2FGs – 20.0% 3FGs), 5.0rpg, 1.7apg, 1.0bpg

Arturas Gudaitis – 2m08 – PF – Zalgiris Kaunas

What a tournament this was for Arturas Gudaitis. The Lithuanian inside player simply doubled his ranking per game numbers compared to the qualification event in l’Hospitalet. Without doing something special, Gudaitis averaged superb 14 rebounds per game and this despite the additional presence of Ramasauskas in the roster. He was particularly present on the offensive glass with 6 boards per game. All this came not because of great athleticism or jumping abilities but a good positioning and timing were the keys to his success. Out of these offensive rebound situations he scored most of his points with an however questionable percentage of only 44%.

Gudaitis is certainly not the most exciting player to watch as he does not display great athletic abilities or incredible talent. He is the kind of worker that does the little things on the court. He has good size but is rather slow and not very explosive either. He came up with the occasional three that makes him a potential defense stretcher when playing the Center position. But he barely put the ball on the floor to attack the basket. We will see how his development goes on in the next years but it is probably unlikely that we see him on the highest level in Europe anytime soon despite being the best rebounder of the Lithuanian U18 League with more than 16 boards per game.

Stats: 10.8ppg (44.4% 2FGs), 14.0rpg

Ignas Ramasausksas – 2m10 – C – Zalgiris Kaunas

After having missed the tournament in l’Hospitalet, Ignas Ramasauskas was back with Zalgiris in Barcelona and showed how important he is for the team. Despite still having really poor hands on offense and struggling to score even from close on a regular basis, Ramasauskas was an important factor on defense as he dominated the boards with his athleticism and shot blocking abilities. This gave him as well a selection for the All-Tournament team which was of course deserved. The question is though what is his future as you could not really see any progress in his offensive game since the U16 European Championships two years ago. On the defensive end, Ramasauskas can do a great job with his timing and energy but he absolutely needs to work on his offensive skills in order to be able to have an impact bigger than as a defensive rotation in the future.

Stats: 4.0ppg (30.4% 2FGs), 9.3rpg, 1.8bpg

We will come back with a last article on the Nike International Junior Tournament analyzing some of the most interesting 1994 and 1995 born players.

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