From January 4th to 6th C.B. L’Hospitalet held the second of the four qualification tournaments (Rome, Kaunas and Belgrade the other venues), of adidas Next Generation Tournament. The winner was the Spanish team from Real Madrid in the final game over their eternal rival FC Barcelona, after having crushed every opponent during the three days of competition.
Here it is a list of the prospects that showed the most potential, in a tournament that lacked elite NBA prospects:
Luka Doncic (1999, 6’6”, SG, Real Madrid, Slovenia)
The Slovenian golden boy proved to be the biggest attraction of the competition, with all the scouts and spectators gathering to watch the most hyped prospect since Mario Hezonja. What’s most impressive about him is the maturity and the completeness of his game at just 15 years of age. He showed a remarkable amount of pro moves and amazing body control, and his game is already defined and complete, with the ability to create his own shot basically in any kind of situation: midrange game, layups, floater, three pointers are all an effective part of his offensive repertoire. Furthermore his court vision and ball handling skills are above average, with the ability to create for himself and his teammates in traffic often with glimpses of rare talent. He often switches as a primary ball handler, where he can show his creativity and ability to attack the basket. Standing 6-6, he has great size for the position, with a solid frame, long arms and big hands. His biggest flaw is his lack of quickness and lateral speed, even if he can be considered a solid athlete and a good leaper. He also needs to work on shot consistency, especially his mechanics and foot positioning. Defensively he has quick hands and instincts, even if sometimes he lacks the killer instinct when facing weaker opponents. Definitely one of the brightest pure talents ever seen, it will be interesting to monitor his progress in the following years.
Blaz Mesicek (1997, 6’5”, SG, Oljmpija Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Mesicek was the MVP of the tournament, leading a talented but inexperienced team to the semifinals, averaging 19 points 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Standing 6-5 he has grown at least a couple of inches and put some pounds of muscle on since last year. He’s still a little skinny, but his structure will allow him to put some weight on without losing quickness, plus he has a good wingspan. He shows remarkable maturity and poise for a kid his age, with great court vision and the ability to play the point guard position, thanks to his solid ball handling skills. He’s able to change speed and direction quite effectively, creating the space to attack the basket or for the jump shot or his floater. Fakes and an effective use of pivot foot are already part of his repertoire, which also includes a proficient use of cuts and screens in off the ball situations. He’s a lefty shooter, with a good mechanics who needs to work on his consistency and his ability to create from off the dribble, especially the pull-up. In catch and shoot, he has range and shows the ability to work off the ball, finding the right spot. He has to work on his body control and balance in order to improve upon his first step. Offensively he tends to struggle a little when facing physical opponents and pressure, but his court vision and passing skills compensate for this shortcoming. From an NBA perspective, he’s not a leaper nor extremely explosive, but he’s definitely a good athlete who could aim for the maximum European level.
Santiago Yusta (1997, 6’7”, SF, Real Madrid, Spain)
Santiago Yusta showed that he has definitely completed the evolution as a backcourt player, with improved ball handling and body control. His mobility combined with long arms a good structure make him perfect to play the role of a modern wing player. He has a really concrete game, which exploits his quick first step and the ability to draw contacts with the consequent opportunities from the free throw line. Defensively he does excellent work in the passing lanes and he’s able to put a tremendous pressure on the direct opponent, exploiting his instincts and quick hands (almost 2 steals per game in Spain). He needs to improve his shot consistency in order to be a better offensive player, but considering his positive attitude and skills (both physical and technical) he has everything to play in ACB in his future.
Jonathan Barreiro (1997, 6’7”, SF, Real Madrid, Spain)
Barreiro seemed fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered last spring, which sidelined him for the rest of that season, causing the Spanish talent to miss the Milan Final Four and the U17 World Championships. During the competition he confirmed his talent with solid offensive fundamentals, with the ability to create from off the dribble thanks to his solid ball handling. Offensively, his repertoire is complete: midrange game, floater, drives to the basket and also a consistent three point shot. His game comprehension is already rather developed with great spacing and good shot selection, furthermore he shows confidence and clutch instincts. He’s a leader, clearly recognized by his teammates, but he doesn’t need to be vocal. Plus, despite being gifted, he gives his contribution to the team on the court in several ways, showing a blue collar attitude. Furthermore, with his instincts, he’s also a solid rebounder for a 3. From an NBA perspective, he lacks elite athleticism and speed, but with his skills he could ultimately clinch a spot after some years in Europe. He closed the competition with 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Xabier Lopez (1997, 6’6”, SF, Badalona, Spain)
Lopez showed all of his versatility and skills during the tournament, where he finished with 22 points and 7 rebounds on average. Standing 6’6”, he has good height for the role and a good structure, but he still has to continue to add bulk even if he has gained some weight compared to last year. He possesses a nice handle and the ability to create his own shot and for teammates from the dribble, showing great balance and body control, even when attacking in traffic. During the tournament he has played several minutes as the primary ball handler, showing concrete evolution as a SG. On the defensive side, he’s really aggressive, staying active and putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the opponent with his quick hands. He has to improve the consistency of his three point shot. Furthermore, despite being the most talented player on his team (and one of the most in Spanish youth teams) he lacks leadership and toughness. Badalona is a perfect team for him to improve and develop, and hopefully in the future he’ll play on a stable basis in ACB.
Stefan Peno (1997, 6’7”, PG, FC Barcelona, Spain)
Peno is probably the most hyped up prospect of his generation in Europe, after his MVP during the 2013 U16 European championships and the tons of mix tapes featuring his highlights. Standing 6-6 he has great size for the PG position, furthermore he has lost some pounds of baby fat, becoming more explosive and fit. Plus he has a solid frame which allows him to withstand contact quite effectively. He has solid fundamentals and ball handling skills, creative passer, but he turns the ball over too much and lacks great decision making skills. Furthermore his shot lacks consistency, a serious flaw for a modern playmaker. He needs to grow in a structured environment, to nurture his evolution as a playmaker. Projecting him to the NBA, he lacks the foot speed and athleticism to make him a highly intriguing prospect.
Maxim Esteban (1998, 6’7”, SG, FC Barcelona, Spain)
Among the ’98 prospects playing for the Barcelona U18 team, Esteban is the one with the biggest upside, both physical and technical. Standing 6-foot-7, he has perfect size for a wing, combined with tremendous athleticism and leaping abilities. He’s still a little skinny, but his structure will allow him to bulk up quite easily without losing explosiveness. He’s basically a scorer with the ability to create his own shot from the dribble and to attack the basket effectively with both hands. He has a reliable jumper from midrange and he can hit from three points, but he has to work on his consistency. Defensively he has good attitude and potential, but he has to work on his lateral speed and timing for the steal, since in those situations he tends to foul the opponents.
Vlatko Cancar (1997, 6’7”, SF, Olimpjia Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Cancar was one of the breakout players of the tournament, showing tremendous improvements since last year, when he was a skinny and lanky wing on a loaded Slovenian team. He has grown and bulked up, plus he seems more balanced and smooth while running the floor. Standing 6-7 with a body made for basketball he has tremendous explosiveness and quickness, showing the potential to become a player of high European caliber. He has great instincts and feel for the game, with a solid jumper, especially in catch and shoot situations. He also has three point range, but he needs to work on his mechanics, plus his ball handling and his use of his left hand needs improvements. He still has to work on his body and his confidence in his skills. Definitely a prospect to track, who could become an amazing late bloomer.
Felipe dos Anjos (1998, 7’1”, C, Real Madrid, Brazil)
He’s a tower at 7-1 with remarkable mobility, balance and coordination, especially when considering his height and age. His progress has been impressive from last season, when he was barely able to stay on the court. His structure is already rather solid, with robust legs and only the need to bulk up a little in the upper body. He has also a good wingspan and huge hands. His mobility combined with his wingspan and height makes him an effective intimidator and shot blocker, and his presence in the painted area makes it difficult for any opponent to attack the basket or even shoot from midrange. He has good court vision, with an intriguing ability to open the court from the post position, exploiting double teams generated by his height and size. Offensively he lacks solid post moves and a complete offensive game, but he definitely has good hands and instincts and the upside from this standpoint is quite high. He needs to become tougher when attacking the basket, since he has the tendency to lose the ball when fouled or opposed. Definitely one of the few obvious potential NBA prospects playing in this edition of the tournament.
Amine Noua (1997, 6’7”, PF, Villeurbanne, France)
Noua made his season debut at the Hospitalet tournament, being sidelined for several months due to back and ankle injuries. Last summer he was, with Stephane Gombauld, one of the top performers of the French national team at the U17 world championships in Dubai. Standing at 6-7, he’s a little undersized to play at the maximum European level as a PF, even if his upper body is strong and solid. Furthermore, he needs to strengthen his leg strength in order to improve his balance and reduce the likelihood of back injuries. Noua is a skilled player, with great post fundamentals and soft hands, able to score with great effectiveness in the paint both with the power solution or a solid hook shot. He’s a good athlete even if he doesn’t seem extremely athletic or a leaper, with most of his game based below the rim level, even if with his superior sense of position he is also a solid rebounder. He compensates the lack of physical skills with great technique and body control, making him a reliable prospect for the European level, even if with limited upside. He closed the tournament with 20 points and 7 rebounds on average, as a technical and vocal leader of his team.
Nedim Dedovic (1997, 6’7”, SF, FC Barcelona, Bosnia Herzegovina)
He’s definitely the most solid prospect of his team, even if the one with the most limited upside He’s still too skinny and lanky to compete at senior level, but the frame will easily allow to add muscle and he has good size for the role. His game is well rounded, with solid fundamentals in every aspect: shot (floater, jump shot, fakes), ball handling, passing abilities. He has the ability to create his own shot, both attacking the basket or from midrange, plus he’s also a solid spot up shooter. He lacks elite athletic skills and creativity, for this reason the best case scenario is for to became a solid professional player at the European level.
Eric Vila (1998, 6’8”, SF, FC Barcelona, Spain)
He’s the stereotypical product of the Spanish youth club system, an athletic wing with long arms and excellent body, but unable to effectively create a shot from off the dribble. He lacks solid ball handling skills and needs to work on his body control, since he tends to be bounced back when contested. With his size and athleticism, he’s an effective rebounder for the role (5.4 of average in Hospitalet) and a potential solid defender, even if he shows limited lateral speed.
Malik Eichler (1997, 6’11”, C, Seville, Germany)
Eichler is an intriguing long term project, who still needs to improve both from physical and technical standpoint. Standing 6-foot-11, he has solid size combined with excellent mobility, which makes him really effective in P&R situations. He has soft hands and a lefty shot with a good range, especially when served both in the painted area or from midrange. He still struggles when he has to create his own shot, especially from post position, when he seems to lack the necessary toughness and strength to fight below the rim. Considering the excellent physical basis and his hands, he deserves attention, taking care of his improvements in the following year.
More information and stats: here