By Davide Bortoluzzi
Coming off the success of the U20 national team, Spain prevailed in the European U18 championships as well. This U18 European Championship event lacked quality big men, now apparently an endangered species, but revealed a class of very talented point guards.
Here there’s a look to the top performers:
Alejandro Abrines (198 cm/ 6’6”, SF, Spain, 1993) 13.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
Abrines reminds me the moves of a young Rudy Fernandez with his smooth shot off the crossover and the ease running the court. Like Fernandez, Abrines is from Palma de Maiorca, but has chosen Malaga for his path of technical growth. He is tall, fast and skilled, and also has excellent instincts as a rebounder. He should put on some muscle in order to better absorb contact when attacking the basket.
Nenad Miljenovic (194 cm/6’4”, PG, Serbia, 1993), 11.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4 apg
Miljenovic has one of the most efficient jump shots off the dribble I have ever seen in youth basketball. The guy from Belgrade, who will play with Partizan next year is a humble point guard with limited athleticism. However he has a huge basketball IQ and he is able to lead the team and read the game with amazing effectiveness. His main shortcoming is from the defensive standpoint, in fact he has neither the lateral quickness nor the attitude to guard quicker opponents.
Vasilje Micic (191 cm/6’3”, PG, Serbia, 1994), 10.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.3 apg
Micic-Miljenovic was the best combination of point guards of the European championship. Micic has a good combination of size and physical power that will allow him to compete at the senior level. Furthermore, he has a great variety of offensive abilities, with an efficient use of pivot food and a reliable 3 point shot. Sometimes he tends to be too flashy during, but he has intriguing upside.
Jaime Fernandez (184 cm/6’0”, PG, Spain, 1993) 12.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.4 apg
Fernandez was one of the best point guards of the championship, with his quick first step and glimpses of passing skills comparable to Ricky Rubio. The Spanish guy, who currently plays for Estudiantes Madrid is a bit undersized, but the amazing foot speed and quick hands make him a tremendous defender.
Daniel Diez, (199 cm/6’6”, SF/PF, Spain, 1993) 12.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
Diez was the player that provided the greatest contribution to their final victory in this U18 European championship. Diez could shift between both forward roles with his good instincts for rebounding and reliable jump shot, also from 3 point range. The Spanish guy isn’t a great talent, but he could be considered a master of intangibles.
Matteo Imbro, (190 cm/6’3”, PG, Italy, 1994), 11.9 ppg, 3.9 ppg, 3.4 apg
Italy may have found their point guard of its future. Imbrò is really talented and he has the right personality to lead the team. He has good passing skills and he’s a terribly streaky shooter, also from three point range. He has to improve as a defender and he has to become more focused during the final minutes.
Amedeo Tessitori (203 cm/6’7.5”, C, Italy, 1994), 11.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.1 apg
Tessitori deserved to be included in all tournament team, after having led the Italian team to a surprising fourth place. Tessitori is a bit undersized but he compensates his shortcomings with his soft hands and an excellent instincts for offensive rebounds. Furthermore he showed good mobility and amazing passing skills for a center.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh (204 cm/6’8”, C, France, 1994), 11.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 0.4 apg
Jaiteh was one of the best rebounders of the championship thanks to his combination of strong body and athleticism. The guy from Nanterre is mobile and has soft hands, but he’s still a raw prospect from an offensive standpoint. Jaitheh’s fundamentals are quite weak and he has to improve his comprehension of the game, but he’s already a good presence on the defensive side.
Mateusz Ponitka (196 cm/6’6”, SG, Poland, 1993), 15.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.6 apg
Ponitka played a good overall European championship, confirming his solid impression after the U19 world championships. The polish guy has good fundamentals and a nice variety of offensive abilities, especially his jump shot off the dribble. Ponitka is also a good rebounder, above average for a shooting guard.
Przemyslaw Karnowsky (213 cm/7’0”, C, Poland, 1993), 11.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.3 apg
Karnowsky showed a lack of mental toughness, especially during clutch moments, when he usually hides and pushes responsibilities to his teammates. However, he’s still one of the top prospects in his role. He’s big, has soft hands and a complete offensive game, with the ability to use his pivot foot and exploit his size.