By Hocine LOUKKAF on 8/7/2018

As the last age group before a potential draft entry, the U18 category usually is the best one to have a first real opinion about who has the potential and maybe already level to become an NBA player. Based on their current production and potential, let’s take a look at our best prospects of the last Euro U18.

Marko Pecarski 6-10 PF/C /Filip Petrusev 6-11 PF/C Serbia
Stats : 24.7pts 11rbds 2.3as 43% 3pt for Pecarski/21pts 8.7rbds 3.1as 1.3blk for Petrusev

If it’s difficult to stop one dominating inside player, what about two? The Serbian duo led their country to the gold medal with its physical and often similar play. Pecarski and Petrusev are fundamentally sound and strong players whose potential is limited by their lack of athleticism. Both are decent shooters even if Petrusev, who scored five three pointers with his Montverde school against Findlay Prep, played exclusively inside during the competition. We will follow their evolution with Partizan and Gonzaga respectively.

Luka Samanic, 6-10 PF Croatia
Stats : 17pts 7.7rbds 1.8blk 47% 3pt

Like his fellow countryman Dragan Bender, Samanic is your traditional oversized stretch four. Yet, contrary to Bender, Samanic has better athleticism and a more consistent outside shot which allow him to be more dangerous. He needs to keep working on his toughness but could develop into a mid first pick with Ljubjana.

Joel Ayayi, 6-5 combo guard France
Stats : 15.7pts 3.6rbds 2.3as

After a redshirt season with Gonzaga, Ayayi, our only projected first rounder, has proved he made the good choice by staying one year away from competition. A mix between Ntlikina and Parker, Ayayi is a long combo who is very efficient around the basket thanks to his special tear drop move. A decent outside shooter (35% 3pt), Ayayi must improve his strength and athleticism but was good enough to help France get a bronze medal.

Arturs Zagars, 6-3 PG Latvia
Stats : 18.9pts 6.3as 1.9st 44% 3pt

Among several top notch PGs, Zagars’ scoring and passing were one of the reasons why Latvia clinched an unprecedented silver medal at home. A complete player and very good shooter, Zagars is the kind of leader a team needs to win games. Despite a certain lack of strength and athleticism, He will try to enter the professionnal rotation with Badalona.

Nikos Rogkavopoulos, 6-8 SF Greece
Stats : 19.7pts 6.6rbds 2.1as 45% 3pt

A year younger than most players, the all around SF has numerous skills which could help him become an NBA player. Rogkavopoulos can lead the break, rebound, pass and is a very good shooter from three. He will try to gain playing time with AEK and has the tools to be productive against adults.

Carlos Alocen, 6-3 PG Spain
Stats : 12.4pts 6.4as (1.9to only) 59% 3pt 62% fg

Maybe the most poised PG of the tournament. In an averaged 22min, the Zaragoza product  scored 12pts per game on 62% fg including 59% from three with more than two attempts per game and  6.3as for a surprising 3.3 a/to ratio. At 6-3, Alocen has also good size at the PG spot. He will try to get more minutes with the pros in the best domestic European championship.

Karlton Dimanche, 6-4 combo guard France
Stats : 8.6pts 5.9rbds 3.9stl 3.4as

The top thief of the competition, Dimanche is your traditional French prospect. His size and athleticism allows him to be a very good defender and rebounder at the guard spot, with also the ability to create game for his teammates. However, his shooting for a guard is very weak and he must improve this skill to become a realistic NBA prospect. He’s in a good situation at Cholet to make the next step to the pros.

Mikael Jantunen, 6-7 SF Finland
Stats : 17pts 10rbds 3.6as 2.1stl 1.3blk 73% fg

The second best rating of he competition, Jantunen is this kind of special player a la Kirilkenko we can see every once in a while. At 6-7, Jantunen played almost exclusively inside for Finland but would be better suited as a three and D prospect. The Finnish forward is a very good defender and rebounder for his size, someone looking for his teammates but also a good shooter as he proved it with 3/4 from three in the first game. He’s also an outstanding finisher with 73% from the field (sic). We don’t know yet what the next step is but his defensive ability and incredible efficiency could make him a glue guy if he develops into a solid pro in Europe (or in the NCAA).

Kareem Queeley, 6-4 combo guard Great Britain
Stats : 12.4pts 4.7rbds 3as 1.1blk

The 2001 born guard from Real Madrid has long been on most scouts’ radar. This competition was the opportunity for him to battle with Great-Britain against the best European prospects his age. With a deserved 7th place, Queeley has shown how good of an athlete he is at the guard spot with almost 5rbds and a block per game. He has also become a more poised guard with still improvable averages of 3as for 2tos. But like Dimanche, Queeley needs to improve his outside shot or his game will be too predictable for his opponents.

Karlo Matkovic, 6-9 PF Bosnia
Stats : 8.6pts 6.3rbds 2.1as 1.9blk

A young and strong PF, Matkovic has seen unconsistent playing time with two games with 15min or less against Finland. He was more consistent on offense with only one game under 50% from the field. On defense, he was simply the best shot blocker of the competition with 1.9blk. Matkovic now needs to display his outside shooting as he hasn’t shot any three pointer but put in each of his six free throw attempts.

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