By Hocine LOUKKAF on 9/1/2019
U16 competitions are always interesting as they give us the opportunity to see for the first time on the international scene prospects who had remained local commodities. Once in a while, it also offers us a glimpse at that tantalizing prospect that every scout dreams about, like this year’s Victor Wembanyama.
Victor Wembanyama, 7-2, 2004, PF/C
9pts 9.6rbds 5.3bl
Clearly the best prospect of this Euro and probably regardless of age. Usually, at age 15, potential seven footers are still growing, weak, and trying to figure out how to use their tools, if not struggling with knee injury trying to play back to back games. Ant then you got Victor Wembanyama. A year older than most players, the French unicorn is already 7-2 barefoot (and still growing) with a 7-7 wingspan while displaying very advanced skills and mobility for someone his age this tall. On defense, he has the ability to read plays and help when needed, basically disturbing the opponent’s whole offense and as he set the highest blocks average per 40 of the tournaments’ history (5.3bl in 23min). On the other side of the court, he can lead the fastbreak, score on a fade away, finish around the basket or dish to his paint’s partner, showing very good IQ for such a physical freak. He still has to develop his frail body and will already have the opportunity to train with French 1st division team of Nanterre which has put a lot of effort to develop Victor. Having watched Gobert at age 16/17, Wembanyama is just on another level and could end up being France’s first number one draft pick if he can stay healthy and focused.
Ousmane Dieng, 6-7, 2003, PG/SG
Dieng may not be as efficient right now as Wembanyama but NBA scouts may have been very intrigued by what they saw. Playing mainly at the PG spot at 6-7, Dieng proved he was not a gadget at this position. He also was clutch on several occasions, above all from outside (32% from three) as he can create for himself with stepbacks or using the screens set by his teammates. Now, with more shots taken from three than inside the 3pt line and a poor 34% 2pt, Dieng has to work on being tougher, more athletic and agressive to score easy baskets.
Adem Bona, 6-9, 2004, PF/C
14.1pts 10.3rbds 4bl 62% FG
A whole different freak compared to Wembanyama, Bona has a strong body coupled with very nice athleticism which allowed him to average 10.3rbds and 4bl per game. Unfortunately, the Turkish 2004-born player is more limited in terms of basketball IQ and individual skills as he mainly used his power to score around the basket or with dunks. His shot is still in progress with a nice 3/5 from three during the tournaement but only 41% from the free throw line. If he keeps developing his offensive game and court awareness, Bona has the body and athleticism to be a very good pro and dream of the NBA.
Matija Belic, 6-6, 2003, SG/SF
18.7pts 10.1rbds 39% 3pt
The poised Serbian swingman still sports some baby fat but has that type of offensive game you can’t teach. At 6-6, Belic is as good using his strong body to finish at the rim or rebound (10.1rbds) as he is shooting from outside with an impressive 39% from three with more than four attempets per game. He also has plenty of vets’ tricks that make him a burden to handle for most defense. His ability to develop and improve his body and athleticism will determine if he will become a Euroleague star or an NBA player.
Michael Caicedo Sanchez, 6-6, 2003, SF
11pts 4.9rbds 2.1st
The latest product from FC Barcelona has been one of the reasons why Spain won the Euro. At 6-6 with nice athleticism and a long wingspan, Caicedo Sanchez has the tools to be a defensive stopper at the next level. He started slowly from outside but has been better throughout the tournament to finish with a nice 5/8 from three against France. He still has to improve his basketball IQ (0.9as per game) if he wants to have the opportunity in the future to crack into Barcelona’s rotation.
Armel Traore, 6-6, 2003, SG/SF
Another interesting prospect from the French team, swingman Armel Traore has nice tools at 6-6 with nice wingspan and good athleticism to turn into an efficient 3 and D. His shooting form looks decent even if his 29% from three still needs improvement. He could also develop into a better ball handler to be able to play at both SG and SF positions.
Tomislav/Zvonimir Ivisic, 6-11, 2003, PF/C
10.9pts 9.6rbds 2.4bl 43% 3pt/13.3pts 6.9rbds 1.4bl 73% 2pt
The Ivisic twins have similar size but different strengths. Tomislav is a better shooter and shot blocker but could have problems switching on defense guarding quicker players. He struggles also being efficient in the paint with a poor 42% 2pt. Zvonimir is far more efficient around the basket (73% 2pt) and is more mobile than his stronger brother. He struggles more from outside with 25% and maybe a too high five attempts per game. It will be interesting to follow them and see how they develop in the near future.
Ruben Dominguez, 6-5, 2003, SG
Despite his MVP trophy, Dominguez may not have as much upside as the prospects we wrote previously about. The 6-6 SG is poised but his lack of athleticism coult limit his future. Dominguez has been inconsistent from three (26% from three on 7 attempts) but his 6/12 over the last two games were enough to earn him MVP of the competition.
Lefteris Mantzoukas, 6-8, 2003, SF/PF
15pts 9.1rbds 2.7as
Your traditional Greek combo forward, Mantzoukas is a solid athlete who can handle the ball well for his size. He also displayed nice IQ with 2.7as. His main weakness now is his shooting with a poor 27% from three on more than five attempts and an also mediocre 62% FG.
Honorable mentions :
Sasa Ciani, 6-9, 2003, C
13.4pts 11.4rbds 3bl
Ciani is still developping but he’s already a solid big man who, contrary to many other inside prospects, focuses on working in the paint (49% FG). Best efficiency of the tournament as he finished best rebounder and 3rd best shot blocker. If he can improve his body and add decent shooting from outside (74% FT), he could be a more interesting prospect in the future.
Zinedine Mulic, 6-6, 2004, SG/SF
10.1pts 37% 3pt
Playing for a poor Bosnian team, Mulic was intriguing enough to get noticed. The 2004-born swingman has never forced the issue and ended with 51% 2pt and 37% 3pt on more almost four attempts. He also limited his turnovers with only 1.3to per game in more than 25min. Being able to have such good numbers in a weak teams is a good indication of Mulic’s IQ. Hopefully, he’ll be as successful as the more famous Zinedine.
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