By Hocine LOUKKAF on 2/17/2023
A new NGT tournament took place in Patras, Greece as several bigs were able to make their presence felt.
Johann Gruenloh, 6-11 C, 2005, Rasta Vechta (GER)
Stats : 16.8pts 13 rbds 6.2bl
The breakout player of this event, Grunloh has established a record for most blocks in an ANGT tournament with 25 in four games, good for 6.2bl per game. At 17, he has already mastered shot-blocking, with his arms always high and a reasonable number of fouls. The German prospect also has a nice frame with long arms and deceptive athleticism. He struggled a bit more facing another big (L’Etang) against Cholet yet recorded another 5bl. Rim-protecting big men are still undervalued (see Walker Kessler) but he could become a better-version of Jakob Poetl with improved athleticism and maybe even develop a set shot from three in the process. It would be interesting to see what he will do next year as he’s playing for small club of Rasta Vechta which is currently leading the German 2nd division.
Tidjane Salaun, 6-8 SF, 2005, Cholet (FR)
Stats : 20.5pts 7.5rbds 41% 3pt 2.2st
Playing for French powerhouse Cholet (Seraphin, Gelabale, De Colo, Beaubois or Gobert), Salaun is a versatile forward with good athleticism and a very nice release from three. Despite averaging 41% 3pt on the event, he needs to work on his consistency as he shot 1/5 3pt against NGT Patras and below 70% from the FT line. A player with nice vertical leap, Salaun can also struggle a bit guarding smaller or more athletic players as he can look stiff moving laterally. He’s yet in good place to develop, make the transition from the U21 to the pros and hope of the NBA as a reasonable goal.
Ruben Prey, 6-11 PF/C, 2005, POR, Joventut Badalona (SP)
Stats : 14pts 13.5rbds 3.2bl
A better known prospect, Prey is still the same intriguing stretch big that we saw at last summer Euro U20. While he was chosen MVP of the event, we are still waiting more from his as he has not become a reliable shooter yet (25% 3pt 57% FT) and is not a creator at all for his teammates (0.5as for 3+tos per game). Defensively, he’s mobile and strong enough for this age group but limitations can be seen and he’s the kind of players that could struggle making the transitions against pros (only four games played in Spanish 2nd div).
Ben Saraf, 6-6 SF/SG, 2006, ISR, NGT Team Patras
Stats :18.8pts 4.8rbds 2.8as
A versatile swingman looking like a light version of Ginobili, Saraf also has a lot of tools and confidence offensively. Of course, he will need to display better shooting as his 29% 3pt and 67% FT are not what you are waiting from a talented scorer. Moreover, if he wants to make it to the Euroleague or NBA level, Saraf will also need to defend, which looks like a real effort for him, because everybody is not James Harden and make a living purely out of your offense in the top leagues is a miracle.
Amaël L’Etang, 7-0 C/PF, 2005, Cholet (FR)
Stats : 14.5pts 13rbds 3as
A bit like Garmendia, L’Etang has very solid IQ with solid moves inside, a developing shot despite his 1/11 in the event and 3as. But even more than Garmendia, L’Etang will need to develop physically and athletically to handle the pro big men as he looks skinny, with not-so-wide shoulders and wingspan, and lacks vertical leap when he doesn’t have room to gain speed.
Honorable mention :
Iker Garmendia, 6-7 SF, 2006, Joventut Badalona (SP)
Stats : 13.2pts 7.5rbds 2.5st
It’s hard to find kids with high bball IQ, that’s exactly what Garmendia, the only 2006-born player of this group, brings to the table. With a good size for his SF spot at 6-7, Garmendia brings solid offensive efficiency (60% 2pt 31% 3pt 89% FT), rebounding and ball-control as he averaged only 0.5to per game (albeit with a low 0.8as). The Spanish wing still has room to develop physically and athletically but is definitely a player to follow.