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U16 European Championship 2014: the Bigs

October 2nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

The final part of my reports on the U16 European Championship covers the big guys. The talent level in this area was highly interesting with players like Killian Tillie, Borisa Simanic, Omer Yurtseven or Isaiah Hartenstein.

Killian Tillie – 2m03 – PF – 1998 – France

What a tournament this has been for Killian Tillie, the younger brother of the former Utah Ute and current Senior National Team player Kim Tillie. The son of two former Volleyball National Team players was amazingly present during the decisive games with a vertical and lateral presence rarely seen on this level. Gifted with that typical Volleyball jump, standing in the air like a statue, Tillie was a monster on the offensive glass averaging an incredible 7.4 offensive rebounds per 28 minutes. Even if he did not show the greatest touch, missing a couple of his putbacks, he had that great second jump that he could recover some of his misses to finish on the second attempt. Overly aggressive on both ends of the floor, Tillie went for every lose ball and showed some superb lateral presence as well in going for the deflections on the passes. Next to this great athletic presence, Tillie is not really large and will be pushed around in the paint once he faces physically stronger opponents. He needs to develop an offensive game next to his current strengths and he showed just a jump hook here and there but not much more. This will certainly come as he is focusing now fully on basketball after this decision was not yet clear several months ago. Definitely a player to watch who should also get big interest from Top-level colleges in the future.

Stats: 14.3ppg (64.4% 2FGs), 9.6rpg, 1.7apg, 1.2spg, 1.2bpg

Quentin Goulmy – 2m03 – PF – 1998 – France

Quentin Goulmy was one of those French inside players that was part of their impressive rotation on the frontcourt. He was a bit of the opposite of Tillie as Goulmy is the typical floor player who uses screens extremely well to get open and has a great positioning on the offensive glass. Not that vertical, Goulmy finds a way to get open and finish from close with excellent footwork and the perfect use of head fakes. With his good motor, he is endlessly attacking the offensive glass to get second chance opportunities but tries to finish only on his better left hand. His shooting touch outside of the paint is not really great so that he is not being attacked much when he touches the ball around the key. He has though a good drive when he can use his stronger hand and he likes to go all the way to finish near the rim. Goulmy needs to work on his athleticism and physical strength in order to become a regular factor on the next level. If he develops a good mid-range jump shot, he will become a very versatile and interesting prospect in quite a short time.

Stats: 6.3ppg (50.0% 2FGs), 5.3rpg, 0.7spg

Jules Rambaut – 2m00 – PF – 1998 – France

Jules Rambaut normally started for the Gold Medalist in a role of offensive facilitator and inside presence. Physically quite strong, Rambaut was mainly active inside the paint where he set hard screens and used his footwork to get good positions down low. His second offensive role was playing from outside as either a high-low passer or on the drive to the basket. His jump shot is quite ok and he will probably develop a 3 point shot in the future. The former participant of the Next Generation camp in Treviso did not attack the offensive glass like his team mates but he was more concentrated on the defensive tasks in the superbly organized French team. With his large shoulders and good physical built, Rambaut does have the potential to become a serious prospect in the next years with a similar career to a player like Adrien Moerman eventually.

Stats: 5.9ppg (57.1% 2FGs), 3.0rpg, 0.8spg

Hugo Blanc – 1m99 – PF – 1998 – France

Hugo Blanc was the fourth player of the French inside rotation and he was yet another force on the offensive glass. He grabbed more than 4 offensive rebounds per 28 minutes and mostly went for the immediate put back. Blanc was more versatile as he showed some interesting driving skills, also from as far as the three-point line. He even went for several drive and dish plays that let you think about an interesting future as stretch four with passing skills. Additionally, Blanc seems to have quite a good technique as he scored on the pull-up jumper out of the dribble here and there as well. The French forward is also quite aggressive and he was at the origin of some small but intense “battles” inside the paint. Blanc might lack top level athletic abilities but he should, as the three above mentioned other French players, have a really nice future if his development continues in the right way.

Stats: 5.8ppg (58.1% 2FGs), 4.3rpg

Njegos Sikiras – 2m02 – PF – 1999 – Bosnia/Herzegovina

One of the very interesting 1999 born players in the event was the Bosnian and currently playing at Stella Azzurra big guy Njegos Sikiras. Moving really well, Sikiras looks to be a potential Small Forward in the future as his overall skillset is already quite impressive for such a young player. He is a good finisher at the rim where he can use his strong body to get the necessary space for the score. The 2m02 tall forward can also attack the basket on the drive with a slight preference for the baseline move. Out of the defensive rebound, you can also see him bring up the ball in transition and his ball handling is developed enough to do this on a regular basis also on the next level. His shooting mechanics are decent and he is a three-point threat especially in catch and shoot situations. Athletically, he looks to be on a good way as well and it will be interesting to see what is coming next for him as a stand-out prospect for the growing academy in Italy.

Stats: 8.6ppg (45.1% 2FGs – 30.8% 3FGs), 5.3rpg, 0.8bpg

Francisco Salvador – 1m99 – PF – 1999 – Spain

Not a massive scoring presence, Francisco Salvador impressed with a nicely developed body and good rebounding despite being a year younger than the competition. Salvador has large shoulders and was an important rotation for the Spanish team, especially on the defensive end. Mainly used as a rebounder, Salvador rarely touched the ball on offense next to put backs. The 1m99 tall inside player showed a good touch on tip-ins using either hand. He showed though that he has the potential to develop into a stretch four player as he executed some Pick and Pop plays where he took the shot from behind the arc. However, his shooting curve is still a bit too flat but he can certainly improve this part of his game in the next years.

Stats: 4.4ppg (51.9% 2FGs), 4.0rpg, 1.1apg, 0.7bpg

Borisa Simanic – 2m07 – PF – 1998 – Serbia

One of the most interesting prospects of the whole tournament has been the Serbian Power Forward Borisa Simanic. Despite scoring only 10 points per game, Simanic was one of the most versatile forwards as he could score from outside, drive, rebound and was athletic as well. Simanic was extremely dangerous in Pick and Pop situations where he was nearly automatic in finding the good position for the shot that he made with superb accuracy. But he was not only a catch-and-shoot threat. Simanic showed that he can put the ball on the floor as well and create a pull-up jumper out of the dribble or go all the way for high-flying dunks. He understands the game quite well and reads the close outs so that he mostly took the right decision when to attack on the drive. The Serbian forward can use both hands when he attacks the basket and his footwork allows him to go for a perfect stop despite a good speed on the drive. Out of the low post, he can also score on the jump hook but he has a preference for facing his defender and go for the dribble attack. With his excellent length and athletic abilities, Simanic is a good shot blocker as he is quite vertical and has a good timing. He was limited during the Medal Phase by an injury which has certainly reduced his impact and also prevented Serbia for going further in the tournament.

Stats: 10.2ppg (58.5% 2FGs – 44.8% 3FGs), 4.3rpg, 1.3bpg

Lars Lagerpusch – 2m05 – PF – 1998 – Germany

The German Power Forward played an overall quite interesting tournament even if he was the least hyped of their inside rotation. Lagerpusch is an “old-school” power forward who uses mainly his footwork to get good positions and score after a multitude of fakes. Not very explosive, the 2m05 tall prospect has developed a nice jump shot around the key where is quite accurate despite a shot release that is maybe a bit too much over his head. Additionally, Lagerpusch is great in catching the ball and putting it up immediately without taking it down for the control. His ball handling allows him also to attack the zone from outside and even go for some nice direction changes and the pro-hop finish. Lagerpusch needs though to work on his left handed finishes as he shies a bit away from using his weaker hand. Additionally, his athletic deficits bring him in difficult positions against longer guys. However, playing already significant minutes on the 3rd highest German level will certainly make him progress in his weaknesses over the next years.

Stats: 12.0ppg (56.5% 2FGs), 4.3rpg, 1.8apg

Moritz Sanders – 2m10 – C – 1998 – Germany

Moritz Sanders showed that he is developing into a shooting big man for the top European level. Still working on becoming more mobile, the big German was mainly used as a defense stretcher with his shooting skills from behind the arc. In catch-and-shoot situations, Sanders was excellent and showed also some nice pass fakes in order to get an open look. In the paint, he is a surprisingly soft finisher as overall, he looks to be a hard fighting player who is not afraid to dive for some loses balls. His lack of vertical can be an explanation for his preference to finish on a layup than go up hard for the dunk. More surprisingly, you could see Sanders sometimes bring up the ball after a defensive rebound and it did look quite interesting when he ran the transition offense as he found his cutting team mates nicely. Sanders did not show much of a low post game unfortunately so it is difficult to say if there has been any progress in that area. Nevertheless, he should become quickly one of the most interesting prospects in Germany because his combination of size and skills is quite rare in his age group Europe-wide.

Stats: 9.7ppg (45.2% 2FGs – 40.0% 3FGs), 5.2rpg

Isaiah Hartenstein – 2m07 – PF/C – 1998 – Germany

After having dominated the German U16 league, Isaiah Hartenstein came with high expectations into the event. However, the German big could not really play on his top level during the days in Riga. Still mainly using his stronger left hand, Hartenstein was not very successful on offense but he was only limited to a certain role by the team structure. Athletically one of the most impressive players of this generation, Hartenstein rarely showed his full potential and lacked also the necessary intensity on the defensive end. He showed some misunderstandings in decisive situations especially on defending the Pick and Pop against a player like Simanic. The tournament looked like an excellent learning process for the power forward who will certainly come back stronger in the future as he remains one of the most talented players in Europe on his position.

Stats: 10.3ppg (44.3% 2FGs – 18.2% 3FGs), 9.3rpg, 1.5bpg

Hannes Pöllä – 2m09 – C – 1998 – Finland

The Finnish big guy showed some interesting things during the sequences I saw him in Riga. Pöllä has a huge large body, certainly a bit chubby at the moment, but he moves quite well up and down the floor. He has quite a good positioning and once he got the ball close to the rim, he can finish with either hand from short distances on the jump hook. Not really a vertical presence, Pöllä is however a correct jumper and can run faster than you imagine even if it is only in straight lines at the moment. His overall shooting touch is good so that he can be considered as an interesting prospect to follow the development over the next years.

Stats: 4.7ppg (56.3% 2FGs), 3.8rpg, 0.6bpg

Nikolaj Bank – 2m10 – C – 1998 – Denmark

Relatively new to basketball, Nikolaj Bank can be considered as the player to follow in the Danish 1998 generation. Gifted with a great body and long arms, Bank is currently more of a project than an actual player. He moves really well for his size, displayed an interesting footwork that allows still a large room for improvement and he knows how to pass the ball. When it comes to shooting touch, Bank is currently a work in progress as he did not show any kind of reliable outside shot or steady technique. Nevertheless, as he is still very young for a big guy, Bank is a player where you can say more when you see how he progresses over the next years in order to better judge his potential.

Stats: 3.9ppg (39.5% 2FGs), 5.1rpg, 0.8bpg

Omer Yurtseven – 2m08 – C – 1998 – Turkey

The Turkish big guy showed very interesting potential both from a physical and skill potential. Physically already quite strong with large shoulders and a good wingspan, Yurtseven is a great vertical presence in the paint in shot blocking but also in rebounding. His long arms seem to surge always out of the crowd to grab rebounds above the rim. On the offensive side, Yurtseven mainly plays inside the paint where he has good hands on the low post moves like the jump hook or the drop step. With a good passer like Al, Yurtseven showed some interesting things on the Pick and Roll situations as well as he finished the plays strong on the dunk if there is enough room. Yurtseven can certainly be considered one of the top inside prospects in Europe of his generation and it will be highly interesting to follow his development over the next years.

Stats: 15.1ppg (58.2% 2FGs), 8.1rpg, 1.7bpg

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