2015 FIBA U19 World Championships: Top Prospects

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 12:00pm

Team USA won the 2015 U19 World Championships held in Crete from June 27th to July 5th. The Americans -- clearly the most physically talented squad in the tournament -- held off a tough, and determined Croatian team in the title contest in overtime. The bronze-medal game matched up Greece and Turkey, with the Turkish team clinching the third spot on the podium.

Team USA featured a several potential elite level pro talents (Harry Giles, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and tourney MVP Jalen Brunson, and a handful of other promising players), but they weren't the only ones NBA scouts had their eyes on.

We'll take a look at the USA guys next, but first here is a list of the top international performers that showed NBA potential, with the unfortunate absence of Dragan Bender (due to sponsorship reasons), Zizic (injury after 3 games), Mazalin (injured) and Mussini (injured).

Furkan Korkmaz (97', 6’7, SG, Turkey, Anadolu Efes Istanbul)

Furkan KorkmazFurkan KorkmazShowed flashes of brilliance throughout and also had a huge bronze medal game. Has a natural feel for the game and does not force the action (almost to a fault). On a number of occasions he had outbursts where he singlehandedly changed the game by making plays on both ends of the floor. He is a very dangerous outside threat and showed that he can knock down shots in a variety of ways under duress.Very good at using pump fakes to create space with his shot. Meticulous with his moves and dribbles. Fundamentally sound player. Plays unselfishly and is always looking to get the ball to teammates, although he does get careless at times and commits unforced turnovers. He was fairly inconsistent in this event, though all the Turkish players were affected by not having a strong floor general. He showed flashes of high level athleticism, but at this point his body isn’t mature enough where he is able to make those types of plays consistently in the half court or in traffic.

Egmen Guven (’96, 6'10, C, Turkey, Pinar Karsiyaka)

The last U18 European championships MVP was coming off a tough season with the surprise Turkish champions team of Karsiyaka, where he spent most of the season sitting on the bench. There’s some suspicion that the team did this in order to hide him after some good performances in the games played at the beginning of the season. That impression was confirmed during the U19 tournament in Crete, as Guven confirmed his intriguing potential. As a 6-10 PF he has good size for the role, with a good wingspan and structure that needs to be bulked up. He’s smooth and fluid and able to use both hands for the hook shot or a floater from the middle of the painted area. Furthermore he’s an amazing passer from post position, with silky hands and good court vision. He lacks elite athleticism, but with his skills and solid technical background he could become an effective post weapon if he develop from a muscular standpoint. In addition thanks to his mobility, he’s a good fit for the modern game, based on P&R. Hopefully he’ll have more playing time next year, necessary to gain experience and to prove his potential. He closed the competition with 10.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg.

Okben Ulubay (’96, 6'7, SF, Turkey, Anadolu Efes Istanbul)

Ulubay is a point forward who is well known amongst scouts and insiders after his great performance three years ago during the U16 European championships, when he was supposed to be a ’97 born. He still has a natural strength and a rather developed body, combined with solid athletic abilities and explosiveness, which still makes him intriguing from an NBA standpoint. On the other hand, he still struggles with the flaws that he's shown over the last few years. His shot is a bit flat, affecting his effectiveness as a shooter, both from three point and from the free throw line (respectively 25% from 3PT and 68% FT during the competition). He can have a laissez faire attitude at times and doesn't value the basketball at this point. This shortcoming is compensated by his ability to run the point for Turkey and using his ability to create from the dribble attacking the basket with eurosteps or layups or setting up a teammate. Ulubay was the table setter creating spacing for Turkey's bigs. He finished the competition with 9.0 ppg and 3.1 rpg.

Marko Arapovic (’96, 6'9, PF, Croatia, Cedevita Zagreb)

Marko ArapovicMarko ArapovicWith the injuries to Zizic and Mazalin and the absense of Bender, Arapovic carried the team on his shoulders, leading them to the silver medal. The Croatian PF showcased his entire repertoire, consisting of turnaround jumpers, fakes and great sense of position. He's an extremely smart, fundamentally sound player with good hands. At 6-9 he has good size to play the position and has good strength, even if not elite, but lacks explosiveness and athleticism, two flaws that could affect his future in the NBA. In particular he lacks elite quickness, lateral speed, and length. On the other hand, he shows superior game comprehension, poise, a physical presence, combined with solid skills – including shooting range from three point. This past season he didn't have a big role for Cedevita, but he’s expected to receive more minutes and responsibilities next year. He could be a perfect fit for a contender with an established system, after a solid Euroleague season, a typical Euro draft and stash pick. Has the makings to be a good pop and shot and stretch 4. He averaged 15.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 3.9 apg during the competition.

Ivica Zubac (’97, 7'0, C, Croatia, Cibona Zagreb)

Zubac was probably the biggest surprise of the tournament, as he exploited the injury to Zizic to find more minutes and a spot in the starting five. The result was excellent both in terms of performance and overall numbers, with Zubac finishing the event with a very impressive 17.6 points and 8 rebounds, on average. As a legit 7-foot center, he has great mobility and quickness for his size, making him effective both in P&R situations and in transition. Furthermore he already has a rather developed offensive post skillset and defensive potential as a rim protector, thanks to his size and wingspan. The next step in his development will be to work on his body structure and his shooting range, at least inside the three point line. After a tough 2013-2014 in which he suffered a foot injury that side lined him for several months. During this event he established himself as a legit NBA prospect for the 2017 NBA draft. He is taller and more athletic than Zizic, and seems to be a better prospect.

Nik Slavica (’97, 6'8, SG/SF, Croatia, Cibona Zagreb)

Had an up and down tournament, but came on really strong down the stretch. The first word that comes to mind to describe Slavica as a player is “slasher”, with his great ability to attack the rim and draw contact, using his size and body. Thrives in the open court. In fact as a 6-8 wing, he has excellent height and frame for the role, combined with great athleticism and leaping abilities. His quick first step and smoothness in running the floor, combined to his ability as a defender on the passing lanes make him a tremendous weapon in transition. He’s a reliable spot shooter, but he has to work on his pull-up jumper and on his range, since his lack of consistency from three points is limiting his offensive effectiveness. His shooting mechanics are decent, but he lacks consistency on his outside shot to force the defense to honor him beyond the arc. Certainly has the physical tools but will need to expand his game off the dribble to become a serious prospect on the perimeter. Weaknesses are that he's a streaky shooter and needs to work on his dribbling skills. Both games against USA he had 4 turnovers that were likely caused by his poor dribbling skills. When Bender was on the team and Slavica was not featured, he struggles. He’s not selfish, showing the ability to find teammates when defense collapses on him, he closed the competition with 13.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 4.1 apg.

Diego Flaccadori (’96, 6'4, PG/SG, Italy, Trento)

After a solid performance at this year's Eurocamp, Flaccadori carried the Italian team on his shoulders, reaching an honorable sixth place. With his long wingspan and big hands he showed his solid handle and ability to drive to the basket, confirming his abilities as a slasher – even if he lacks elite athleticism. He’s still has to work on his three point shot, but he seems to have taken the right route, showing improvements compared to last year. His final digits (17.6 ppg 4 rpg 4.9 apg) show his all-around skills, and his ability to use his size as a rebounder. Definitely with Simone Fontecchio (his teammate on the Italian U20 team currently playing EC) one of the dark horses for next NBA drafts.

Tyler Dorsey (’96, 6'5, SG/PG, Greece, Oregon)

The soon to be Oregon Duck freshman shined during the competition, closing as the top performer of the Greek national team that finished in fourth place. Standing 6-5 he has perfect size for the role, combined with solid athletic skills and amazing average speed. In transition game he’s really effective, exploiting change of speed and direction, with the ability to conclude above the rim level, even in when contested and not in perfect balance. He’s a solid spot shooter, especially from midrange, but he lacks consistency and he needs to work on his range. He’s solid and intense, really effective on the passing lanes, and an above the average rebounder for the role. In crunch time Dorsey seemed to step his game up squashing Spain's late run in the quarters finals, and keeping Greece within striking distance, and with big shots in the 4th quarter against the USA.

Dillon Brooks (’96, 6'7, SF, Canada, Oregon)

After a solid freshman season at Oregon, Dillon Brooks shined during this U19 world championship, as the top performer of a talented Canadian team that ended 5th losing only one game. Brooks is really strong and explosive, with a NBA body and the ability to close in the traffic even if contested, often above the rim level. He has a great motor and energy, playing with a blue collar style and a lot of intangibles despite being one of the most talented players of his team. He has a solid pull-up jumper from midrange, but he needs to improve his shot selection in particular from three point to widen his range, since basically his game is based on power and energy in the painted area. He closed the competition with 18.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg.

Marc Garcia (’96, 6'6, SG, Spain, FC Barcelona)

This competition is confirmation that the development of Garcia appears to have halted over the last season, coming off a disappointing season with Manresa in ACB. The biggest point of concern for Garcia is the struggles he has in creating his own shot off the dribble, he seems to lack the necessary explosiveness and physical strength to create space. On the other end he has always been known and recognized as a shooter, but during the competition he struggled in this area as well shooting barely 30% from three point. Next year will be crucial for his development since he has to work on his body and on his confidence, to recover the ground he lost this season. He closed with 11.4 points of average the competition. Too much hype, too early can obviously be a burden for certain players.

Yankuba Sima (’96, 6'10, PF, Spain, St. John’s)

The prospect grown under the teachings of Rob Orellana in Canaris Basketball Academy will play for Chris Mullin at St. John’s next season, forming a dynamic duo with the lighting Italian PG Mussini. During the U19 Sima confirmed his solid physical background, which combines muscular strength, balance and amazing mobility for the size. He’s not a super rim protector due to the lack of explosiveness and sense of position, but this is partially compensated by his wingspan and quickness. His post skills are improving, he’s able to conclude with the hook shot with both hands, but he’s more effective when served in movement after the P&R or during secondary transition situation, when he can better exploit his mobility. He closed the competition with 14.6 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

Andres Feliz (6’0 PG Domincan Republic, West Oak HS, Orlando Florida)

A dynamic lead guard, Feliz showcased his game against high level competition and was able to more than hold his own leading the tournament in scoring at 18.9 ppg while shooting 49% from the field. Very confident off the dribble, he is able to get into the paint and create plays for teammates or finish himself. He’s able to use his speed and quickness to consistently blow by his man and collapse the defense. He is composed operating in traffic and is able to make good reads. Plays the angles well on finishes and is able to use a mix of scoop shots and floaters to score around the hoop. Showed his range on a number of occasions shooting 32% from 3 point range, but it usually came at the end of clock situations. As an undersized guard, he will need to become a more reliable threat from the outside and gain consistency from the foul line. From Guachupita city in the Domincan Republic but plays for West Oak High School in Orlando Florida class of 2017

Georgios Papagiannis ('97, 7’1 C Greece, Panathinaikos)

At times showed a very effective low post game, but was not utilized in a way to fully display his game. Spent most of the time offensively setting screens and playing away from the rim. On a few occasions when he did receive the ball on the block he was able to use a nice mix of moves to finish over both shoulders. Has great hands and is able to coral the ball off bounce passes and lobs at the rim. His mobility is an issue as he has a hard time keeping up with the action in high pace games. Did not play large minutes especially down the stretch and this may be a result of that.

Honorable Mention:

Jose Vildoza: ('96, 6'3 Argentina) -- Quick release with range and possesses a solid body. Reportedly will declare early for NBA draft.

Justin Jackson HS ('97, 6'8 Canada) -- plays for Findlay Prep in Nevada, the UNLV commit is a 3/4 possessessing a long wingspan. Strongest on the open floor, he can make the occasional three. Needs to be more efficient with his moves and shot selection, as he is currently not a master in one skill but has the length, the dribbling, and the shooting ability to develop.

Deng Gak ('98 6'9 Australia) -- Extremely raw. Has a reported 7 foot wingspan and was suppose to break out of Humphries shadows but didn't quite deliver. Can make some strong dunks with his length even attempting some improbable on hand put backs. He needs to develop a stronger base in the post as he can be knocked around some but one of the younger players in the tournament.

William McDowell White ('98, 6'3 SG/PG Australia) -- 6'3 combo guard who attacks the basket efficiently. Needs to work on the open jumper as the game will open up for him. Posesseses a good first step. Has good hands to tip balls in the passing lane and is adept at getting steals. Son of AFL player Darryl White he was one of the more athletic guards in the tournament.

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When college recruiters came

When college recruiters came to Greece they measured Papagiannis at 7-2.

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