From July 29 through August 7th, 2022 the FIBA Europe U18 A & B divisions were taking place. Due to abnormalities in the scheduling the last couple of years, the top teams in division B had arguably as much talent as most of the teams in Division A so we decided to consolidate them and write about the two events together. For the record Spain, led by Izan Almansa, defeated Turkey in Izmir, Turkey to win gold for division and Sweden led by Elliot Cadeau defeated Denmark in the B Division in Ploiesti, Romania. The top 4 players, and 5 of the top 10, in these rankings you will be able to watch play this season in the USA.
1. Sidy Cissoko 6’6, Guard, France 2004 Born: 11.3 ppg 4.9 rebs 3.1 ast.
Cissoko was the highest rated NBA prospect coming into the tournament. He didn’t really damage or gain anything from his performance as he and the French team went 6-1 with all victories being blowouts; while the one loss showed some dysfunction in the team’s makeup. The major issue in France’s loss was both lack of shooting from three and point guard play, two areas where Cissoko had the opportunity to contribute, but did not. Cissoko is not a point guard, he’s a wing that can initiate an offense. He has a high motor and is always eager to attack the rim. He enjoys backing down smaller players and attacking the offensive glass. On pick and roll situations, he has a plan and an advanced ability to recognize plays developing. He’s adept at creating contact and getting fouls called, shooting 78% from the line. On defense, with his size and length, he was able to get a good number of boards and was tied for 3rd with teammate Rayan Rupert at 2.4 steals per game. His hips are a little stiff laterally and he needs more consistency with his jump shot as he was 6/24 from beyond the arc for this tournament. He will be playing for Ignite in the G League this season and is a projected early entrant and first rounder for the 2023 NBA Draft.
2. Elliot Cadeau, 6’1, Point Guard, Sweden 2004 Born.
Cadeau, voted MVP while leading his team to first place in FIBA u18 Europe Division B, was the fastest player in either the A or B division. He won his head to head matchup against Miro Little in group stages and capped his tournament off with a 36 point finale. He can manage the floor, understands the point guard role in the pick and roll and can hit both the outside shot and get to the hole. For the tournament, his stat line was as follows, 21.3 ppg 4 as 3.2 st while his shooting splits were 56.9%FG 40.9% 3pts 76.1% FT. The next step in his progression will be his patience as he can play a little too fast at times leading to 4.5 turnovers per game. At 6’1, he would be on the shorter end for NBA point guards. Overall he is having a good summer after being a player that stood out at Pangos and now being one of the top players at the u18s. He will be playing for Link Academy this season and is considered the top point guard in the class of 2024.
3. Izan Almansa 6’9 Power Forward / Center 2005 Born:
Almansa has had a busy summer for the Spanish national team. He led the Spanish team to a silver medal in the u17 World Cup (article here) and then lead Spain to a gold medal in FIBA u18 Europe Division A while being voted MVP at both events. While he played mainly power forward in the u17s, in this event he was Spain’s starting center and go to player. Almansa is a smart player with good self awareness at this point in his career. In the pick and role, he’s a good screener, good cutter and finally a great lob threat on offense. Most teams in both tournaments were unable to stop this action. He’s always looking for the ball in the post using, spins, drop steps and even floaters around the basket. He’s a ferocious rebounder both on the offensive and defensive end (3rd for the tournament at 10.7 per game after coming in second at u17s). At 15.7 ppg, he was the 4th leading scorer and averaged a double double for the tournament. He is also excellent on pick and roll defense with good reads and anticipation, recovering quickly and making sure he is between his man and the basket as much as possible. So why is he not ranked higher? He was the consensus MVP at both events, but neither of which did I have him ranked as the top NBA prospect. He has not shown the ability to shoot from the outside, which limits his upside as a prospect. If you combine statistics from both events, from the free throw line to get a larger sample size in 14 games he went 17/44 38.6% (he shot 50% in u18s). In addition in 14 games he has taken 0 shots from 3. He also does not yet have the ability to pick and pop. To compensate for this offensive deficiency the defense has to be great and while it’s good, he doesn’t have huge shot blocking numbers and it’s questionable if those block numbers would go further down at the next level. Lastly, he’s not a special post player passer. If there is no progress in those areas it would limit his potential to be a first round pick. Watch him play for OTE this season.
4. Miro Little: 6’4, Point Guard, Finland 2004 Born
Prototype size for an NBA point guard with some advanced foot work leading Finland to the semi finals meeting before bowing out due to injury. He’s a strong rebounder for a point guard (9.4 for the tournament). Demonstrated he could run a team, effectively averaging 15.6 ppg and 4 assists. Nearly 50% of his shots were taken behind the arc. While decision making is good, a little more downhill action could have been beneficial and his 3 point percentage would have perhaps been a little higher than 32.1%. He rotates well on defense, but does not get enough deflections, steals, or blocks for a player of his ability. Will be playing for Sunrise Christian Academy this season and has committed to play for Baylor in 2023.
5. Berke Buyuktuncel 6’9 Forward, Turkey 2004 Born: 12.3 ppg 7.4 rebs 2.1 steals.
When Turkey was playing well the lefty was usually leading the way. He is a scorer who is a good spot up three point shooter 42.1%, and likes to take smaller wings and back them down for a mid range jumper. He’s a good offensive player with momentum, good passer on fast breaks and has the ability to get to the hole for a player his size. He’s good at creating angles to get down hill. An intuitive basketball player that can be frustrating at times for fans and coaches as he from time to time passes up shots he should take. Has a high basketball IQ and length that leads him to some steals and offensive rebounds. He can disappear on offense and thus become stagnant, staying in the corner, and making his statistical output lower than his skill set. Not an ideal NBA level athlete, and defense will be a question mark for him at the next level. Does not block shots. He is one of those players who makes big shots in big moments but needs more consistency in shot taking.
6. Rayan Rupert 6’6 Wing, France 2004 Born: 8ppg 3.7 rebs 2.4 steals.
Rupert was probably the second highest rated prospect coming into the tournament but unfortunately he didn’t play like a potential 2023 NBA draft pick. He has the tools to be a top prospect with long arms, good agility and good rotation on his jump shot. He was France’s best one on one player while having some success when he had the ball at the top of the key and using a crossover dribble to step into a mid range shot. He shot 53% from 2 but just 3/20 from beyond the arc. He also was only 3/7 from the free throw line demonstrating a lack of will to get to the rack and create contact. His handles can be a little loose at times though he rarely loses the ball but with a little more crispness he could finish plays off instead of passing it out. He was often defending the opponents best perimeter player and was tied with Cissoko for 3rd in steals for the tournament. However he had some difficulties on defense in pick and roll communication and weak side rotation in the loss against Slovenia. He lacks some basketball IQ off the ball on offense which was accentuated due to the lack of true point guard play from the French team. He will play for the New Zealand Breakers this season in the NBL.
7. Alexandros Samodurov 6’11, Power Forward, Greece, 2005 Born
Samodurov was shut down for the tournament due to an ankle injury after only playing 2 minutes in Greece’s 3rd game. Nonetheless he made a positive impression with scouts. In his game against Czech Republic, his stat line was as follows: 20 ppg, 13 rebs, 2 stl, & 5 Blocks. He demonstrates good agility for a player his height and is very quick to reload for a second jump. That quick second hop helps him on both offensive and defensive rebounds and with blocking shots. He has a good first step for a big and seeks contact on drives getting 18 free throws in 2 games (63.2% from the line). Needs to put on weight but does not mind physical contact or posting up. He is a good runner in transition and has good touch around the rim. He’s not a plodder but lacks vertical ability when he attacks the rim. He also tends to lower the ball in the post and needs to continue to work on his outside game, but the form is there. He will be playing for Panathinaikos this season and has already received a call up to play for Greek National team.
8. Paulius Murauskas: 6’8, Small Forward, Lithuania, 2004 Born:
Maurauskas led the A group in scoring at 20.7 ppg. while shooting 47.7% from the field and 86.5% from the free throw line. Blessed with a long wingspan, Maurauskas is strong around the basket and on the fast break. He had one of the highlight moments of the tournament when he went behind the back and then finished with a two handed flush. He is not shy about shooting, taking over 15 shots per game with 4.4 of them being from long distance. He only made 29% from 3 however. His biggest Achilles heal on offense is he is turnover prone. His handles lack crispness and he at times loses control of the ball. He will need to address that to find success playing at the next level. In this tournament, defense didn’t seem to be much of a priority for him. He averaged less than a block per game despite his athleticism and often leaked out into transition, leading to just 6 rebounds per game.
9. Zach Perrin: 6’10, Power Forward, France, 2004 Born
Perrin was the most consistent player for France. He was probably the most dominant big outside of Almansa as he thoroughly outplayed Motiejus Krivas in a seeding matchup. He averaged 13.7 ppg and 9.1 rebs for the event. On offense he is good around the basket, absorbing contact, and finishing plays either with a dunk or a lay up. He has soft touch and foot work around the rim and is a willing screen setter. He averaged more assists than turnovers in the event and has good handles for a front court player. He is a poor 3 point (1/10) and free throw shooter (57.1%). He does not have great lift when he jumps but does have a big wingspan, which you can see at times on offense around the basket when he goes for layups instead of dunks, but also with he lack of blocked shots he had at this event. This will be his Freshman year in the Big10 playing for Illinois.
10. Bilal Coulibaly: 6’6, Wing, France, 2004 Born
Coulibaly was viewed as the 4th best wing on the French team, and therefore received limited playing time relative to the other players on this list. He did show some things during his limited minutes. He shot 20/26 on 2 point shots (76.9%) because of his elite athleticism. One of his misses would have been a huge dunk on Lithuania. He is very good at getting downhill and has a quick first step. He made some 3s early on to keep opponents honest but finished 3/10 from beyond the arc. He lacks polish in pick and roll situations and played better on the wing on offense. Hr has active hands on defense, getting both steals, by deflecting passes and the occasional blocked shot. he is raw in relation to the prospects ahead of him on this list. He plays in France for Levallois .
11. Kymany Houinsou: 6’6, Combo Gard, France, 2004 Born
It was a challenging tournament for Houinsou as he was the primary point guard on the team where he is probably best suited to be the secondary point guard. There seemed to be confusion and chemistry issues with him and Rupert at various points in the tournament but he did help lead France to a 6-1 record. He is long and athletic at 6’6 for a combo guard. He can finish plays with a dunk and had nearly a 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio while he was second in assists for the tournament. At 10 ppg, he shot over 52% from the field despite having trouble from 3 (29.4%) A good free throw shooter at 81.3%, he can be effective as the guard in pick and roll action. Needs to get stronger and has a hard time running a team outside of pick and roll actions. Perhaps it is his lack of strength or confidence in his handles but was easily moved out towards mid court and had difficulties running the offense in half court sets. This season he will be playing for ASVEL in France.
12. Tobias Jensen, 6’6, Point Guard, Denmark, 2004 Born
Jensen played in the B Division leading Denmark to a silver medal averaging 13.6 ppg 6.6 rebs 5.3 ast and 3.6 stls. A tall lanky point guard who is quite agile and also has the ability to run his team. He is a whiling 3 point shooter with good form. His go to move is his crossover to get to the rack or to step into a 3. Has a first step but lacks power both for strength and jumping that will allow NBA athletes to recover. His shooting percentages all across the board need to improve but he had his moments. Plays for ratiopharm Ulm
13. Motiejus Krivas: 6’11, Center, Lithuania, 2004 Born: Krivas, 13.6 ppg 13.4 rebs, 1.7 blocks,
is a true center who enjoys playing with contact. Led the tournament in rebounding and was the anchor for Lithuania. He likes to post up with a go to move faking towards the base line and then heading back towards the middle while finishing with a half hook or floater with his right hand. Adept at creating contact by driving or in the post getting opponents to bite on fakes, leading to many opportunities at the free throw line. He shoots free throws well for a center at 73.7%. There is hope he can expand his range to keep opponents honest from sagging off on him from the perimeter, but does not currently possess a strong outside game. He does not defend the perimeter well against stretch bigs or more agile ones (was outplayed head to head against Perrin). He also had double the amount of turnovers to assist in the tournament.
14. Diogo Seixas, 6’8 Forward, Portugal 2004 Born.
The lefty might have maximized his potential at this level as he already has a physically mature body, limiting his upside, but was a dominant player in the B division averaging 18.5 ppg and 6.5 rebounds who also went 16/36 from 3 (44.4%). Seixas is a hybrid forward who likes being around the post but also can hit the spot up 3. Positionally his handles are good but lacks a quick burst or power vertical leap. He did not shoot it well from the charity stripe and has limited upside on the defensive end. He plays for Real Betis in Spain
15. Nils Vahlberg Fasasi, 6’8, Small Forward, Sweden 2004 Born
Fassi helped lead Sweden to a Division B gold medal. His 19.4 ppg was 3rd most in the event with good shooting splits 53.1%, 36.4%, 72.7%. He has a long wingspan and is quick off the floor. He loves running the lane on the fast break. A willing passer and uses his length in passing lanes on the defensive end of the floor. but he lacks polish in his game. Plays for Promitheas Patras in Greece
Almar Atlason: 6’8, Power Forward, Iceland, 2004 Born: 17.9 ppg 24/58 from 3
Emmanuel Innocenti: 6’6 Wing, Italy, 2004, Born: 11.1 ppg 7.1 rebs
Kerem Konan: 6’9, Power Forward, Turkey, 2004 Born 7.7 ppg 47.1% from 3
Marqus Marion: 6’8, Power Forward, Denmark, 2004 Born: 16.1 ppg 10 rebs
Ilija Milijasevic: 6’2 Point Guard, Serbia, 2004 Born: 10.7ppg