The European U20 Championships were played in Podgorica, Montenegro that was won by Spain on July 24th. While it has less talent than other events such as the FIBA U17 World Cup, because many of the top 19 and 20 year prospects have either already been drafted or called up to the national teams the talent was obviously deplated, but some players of intrigue emerged at this event nonetheless. Here are the top 10 European prospects from this event and a couple others that should have an impact for their respective college teams in the upcoming NCAA basketball season:
1. Juan Nunez 6″4, Point Guard Spain Born in 2004: Spain had the most talent in this tournament and Nunez was their most pro ready player who ended up being the MVP of the event. The lefty made some very creative passes throughout the event hitting his bigs in stride. He also was able to make a good amount of his points with jump shots at a high efficiency rate, shooting 51% from the field and 43% from 3. He averaged more than 2 to 1 assist to turnovers while leading Spain to gold. What he lacks is NBA level point guard athleticism. He will play for Real Madrid this season.
2. Adem Bona 6″9, Center, Turkey Born in 2003: Was the dominant big in this tournament but avoided, due to the schedule, the other talented bigs in the event, Prey and Okeke. If you have seen him on the high school scene, he pretty much played to his reputation. He was dominant on defense acting as the team’s defensive anchor, which is his calling card for the next level. Bona led the tournament in Blocks and Rebounds and was a top 10 scorer, 17 ppg 10.9 rebs 2.4 blocks at 66% from the field. He shot nearly 70% from the free throw line which is a positive sign but he must continue to expand his range and become a threat as a pick and pop offensive threat to move up on draft boards. If he can keep the turnovers down, he should get meaningful minutes for the UCLA Bruins this season.
3. Michael Caicedo 6’7, Wing, Spain Born in 2003. Caicedo was one of the better athletes and arguably the best wing defender in the tournament. He was a jack of all trades player on offense shooting over 50% from the field and 36% from 3 and for the most part guarded the opponent’s best offensive weapon. He had some flashy finishes throughout the event and all his numbers are fine yet not spectacular however as he can get lost on offense on a strong Spanish team. He will play this season for Barcelona, an important one for him to re-establish his draft intrigue.
4. Ruben Prey 6″10, Power Forward Portugal Born in 2005: Prey, at 17, was one of the younger players, playing mostly against 19 and 20 years olds. He was in the top 10 for the tournament in points (16.3), rebounds (8.4), and blocks (1.4). He is long, runs the floor well, and has a decent first step going right with good touch in the post again mostly with his right hand. He can keep opposing bigs from dropping off him as he has some range and is a willing 3 point shooter (8/21). His shooting form can be a little flat which impacts his free throw efficiency, 62%, to be less than what would be required at the NBA level. He Isn’t a good screener but may get better as he puts on weight on his rail thin frame. He is very right-hand dominant. So much so that you wonder if he can take more than 2 dribbles with his left hand. He is very reluctant to pass or even to look to his left and rarely uses his left hand unless absolutely necessary diminishing his intrigue somewhat as a prospect.
5. Fedor Zugic: 6’5, Small Guard Montenegro Born in 2003: Zugic came into this tournament as one of the more well known prospects and was voted first team all tournament. While he was able to take his country to a 3rd place finish in front of his home crowd, his performances were uneven. He has the ability to create for his teammates when in an offensive advantage but had games of 5 and 6 turnovers and overall more turnovers than assists at this event. Has textbook shooting form but does not have much of a mid range game taking nearly 50% of his shots from beyond the arc. He was the 3rd leading scorer of the event at 18 ppg, while shooting 37% from 3 and 83% from the charity stripe. His best game of the tournament was the Bronze winning game versus Israel where he was able to go 6 for 9 from downtown but even then still had 3 unforced errors. He tended to guard the weakest offensive player on the defensive end. Plays in Germany for ratiopharm Ulm.
6. Mantas Rubstavicius 6’6, Wing Lithuania Born in 2002: Rubstavicius had the game of the tournament scoring 38 points in the quarterfinals game versus France. The lefty led the event in scoring with 19.7 ppg with shooting splits of 47%, 39.6%, 76.1%. In the open court he can finish either left or right. In the half court sets he generally looks to shoot from beyond the arc but will attack the rim on a strong closeout. He unfortunately does not have the athleticism to finish a play strong which severely limits his NBA potential. All in all this was a good tournament for him as he gained some exposure.
7. Ondrej Hanzlik 6’7, Small Forward Czech Republic Born in 2002: Hanzlik is a shooter. He has a nice fluid stroke with a quick release and will take the occasional step back deep range shot, shooting it at 42.2% from beyond the arc. He does not possess a good change of pace move nor a quick first step to create space at the NBA level. Possesses average handles, did not display much of a mid range game, and does not possess the athleticism nor the intensity of being a good defender.
8. Matthew Strazel 6’0, Point Guard, France Born in 2002: Last time we watched Strazel with the French national team he had the benefit of playing with projected top 2 pick Victor Wembanyama. Without Victor he was France’s go to player demonstrating his year of pro experience with ASVEL. He managed the team well and shot the rock at an efficient number but to make the NBA at 6’0 foot you have to be a freak (athlete, scorer, or shooter). He will play for Monaco this upcoming season.
9. Leonardo Okeke 7’0, Center, Italy Born in 2003: Okeke has a prototypical NBA Center body. His length and strength allowed him to nearly average a double double at this event. Effective around the basket. He’s missing lateral quickness and an effective outside game. Okeke shot 10/17 from the free throw line. Was outplayed in the opening game versus Prey of Portugal. Was top 5 in rebounds and blocks for the tournament.
10. Thisj De Ridder 6’8, Forward, Belgium Born in 2003: De Ridder averaged 16.1 ppg and 9.4 rebounds both top 10 stats for the tournament. You can watch him play next season in Belgium for Telenet Giants Antwerp
Adama Bal 6’6, Wing, France Born in 2003: Started off slow and played better towards the end of the tournament. He’s intriguing due to measurables and potential skill set but University of Arizona Wildcat fans will have to be patient as he needs time. Bal needs to be stronger both with the ball and on defense.
Augustas Marciulionis, 6’4, Point Guard Lithuania Born in 2002. Led Lithuania to the final versus Spain. Has a strong first step to get to the hole and is good at absorbing contact. Led team in assists. Saint Mary’s will need him to be more consistent from beyond the arc this upcoming season.