By Hocine LOUKKAF on 9/9/2019
There may not be an elite prospect in this year’s Euro U18 but some of them by improving their physicality like Aldama or Pokusevski or their skills like Begarin, Enaruna or Garuba could find a way to be first rounders very soon.
Santiago Aldama, 6-11 SF/PF, 2001, Spain
18pts 7.6rbds 2.6as 2.3bl 1.9st 34% 3PT
Loyola Maryland’s coaches must be happy about their finds. At 6-11, Aldama is versatile enough to be an efficient stretch four with nice handles, decent footspeed and outside shooting (34% 3P). He’s also been active on defense with almost 2st and more than 2bl. As if it wasn’t enough, Aldama is more than careful with the ball with an almost 4 a/to ratio, a rare feat for a forward. If he can gain weight and explosivity, he could make his mark in the NCAA and work on being a combo forward at the next level.
Usman Garuba, 6-8 PF, 2002, Spain
15.6pts 12.9rbds 2.1bl
The former U16 Euro’s MVP may have peaked a bit as he seems to be done done growing at 6-8. Yet, his brute strenth and athleticism were still enough at that level to make him one of the most dominant players. The best rebounder of the competition completed Aldama very well to lead Spain to the gold medal. Now, even if he’s only 17, Garuba really needs to develop his IQ and poor shooting (2/8 from three and 47% ft) to achieve great things with the pros.
Aleksej Pokusevski, 6-11 SF/PF, 2001, Serbia
10pts 7.2rbds 4bl 3.7as 2.7st
The Serbian forward may be the most intriguing player of the tournament. At 6-11, he displayed incredible versatility, playing like a point forward at times while leading the competition in blocks. The problem is that his all around game was totally hidden by his awful offensive “efficiency”, or lack of, as Pokusevski lacks the strength to finish in the paint (30% 2pt) but was also poor from long distance (9/31). the Olympiakos player may need a loan to a weaker team to rack minutes with the pros.
Azuolas Tubelis, 6-9 PF, Lithuania
14.9pts 12.4rbds 3.4bl 2.4as
The 3rd best rating of the tournament was on full display in Greece. A year younger than most players, Tubelis was a load to handle for every defense, as illustrated by his 15rbds per game over the last five games. Not only is Tubelis strong, but his deceptive athleticism allowed him to average more than 3bl per game. He will now have to improve his shooting as his 28% from three and above all his 39% ft are way too weak for someone who gets so much at the line.
Moussa Diabate, 6-10 PF, 2002, France
11.2pts 11.5rbds 2.2bl
France’s main man inside, the 2002-born Diabate has gained a lot of agressivenesss since he left for the US. He’s been very active in the paint both on offense and defense but couldn’t help his team beat turkey in the quarter-finals with only 4pts. His offense is still a work in progress, above all his shooting with a poor 40% ft and only one shot taken behind the 3pt line despite his ability to let it fly from the high post. The more he will develop his skills the better prospect he will become in the years to come.
Ziga Samar, 6-6 PG, 2001, Slovenia
11.6pts 8.6rbds 7.4as
The next Slovenian prospect from Real Madrid, Samar helped his team reach the podium. At 6-6, he displayed ideal court vision, willingness to involve his teammates and the craftiness to be a very good rebounder at the PG position a la Jason Kidd. Unfortunately, he was poor on offense both inside and outside the 3pt line (37% 2pt 28% 3pt) which made him a liability for his squad. The last Spain U18 MVP needs to work on his shooting and explosivity around the rim to fix his offensive issues.
Tristan Enaruna, 6-8 SF, 2001, Netherlands
19.1pts 8.7rbds 2as
Netherlands is not much known for producing NBA players but Enaruna may have a chance at flirting with his dream. The soon-to-be Jayhawk is an impressive athlete with solid strength who is on permanent attack mode. He also displays the perfect body type to develop into a nice defender (1.6st 1.3bl) at he next level. Yet, he will have to develop better handles and a consistent shot (5/36 over the competition and 0/17 over the last three games from three) to be an efficient player, whether it is as a stretch four or as a pure SF.
Adem Bona, 6-9 PF/C, 2003, Turkey
4.9pts 5.1rbds 1.7nl in 18min
Before punishing opponents at the Euro U16, Bona played up his age group at the U18 Euro. Despite his lack of offensive skills, above all shooting (30% ft, no 3pt attempted), Bona was very efficient in the paint, using his incredible mix of length, strength and athleticism to focus on the defensive tasks (5.1rbds 1.7bl in 19min) and finshing around the rim (60% fg). He has all the tools to get to the pros with the way he plays right now, but if he can develop his shooting like he showcased it, albeit with a small sample, at the U16 Euro (3/5 from three), he could dream of a lottery selection in a near future.
Malcolm Cazalon, 6-6 SF, 2001, France
11.2pts 3.8rbds 2.3st
In a team stacked with talent, the French swingman, newly signed to Belgian team Leuven, was the best outside player. At 6-6 with nice athleticism and good physical tools, Cazalon displayed the ability to drive to the basket as much as he could shoot it from outside, being clutch at several occasions. On defense, he was active in the passing lanes (2.3st) and could turn into a solid defender. Cazalon still lacks consistency as he sometimes forced the issue and averaged only 35% fg/31% 3pt while not being the most versatile prospect (1.7as) but with work and minutes with the pros, he definitely has the upside to be a first rounder within two years.
Juhann Begarin, 6-5 SG, 2002, France
7.7pts 3rbds 1.8st
After the best French outside player, let’s talk about the French best outside prospect. At 6-5 with a massive 6-10+ wingspan and elite athleticism, Begarin has ideal physical tools at his position. He used them on defense as he constantly pressured his opponent and also racked blocks coming from the weak side. He was also at his best driving to the rim in the half court and on the fast breaks where he had some emphatic dunks. Unfortunately, Begarin’s struggles from outside just prevented him from being a real offensive leader for his team as his 1/10 from three over the competition are not what you expect from an NBA prospect. Moreover, his 0.8as/2.7to showcased how much he needs to work on his basketball IQ as Begarin is way too wild as of now. He will have the opportunity to work on that with real pros as he’s leaving Centre Federal for Paris Basket in French 2nd division.