The adidas Next Generation Tournament, Zadar took place March 3-5. This four part qualifier, build up culminating in a final tournament at the European Final Four serves as Europe’s biggest stage for under-18 basketball prospects at the club level. The first qualifier event was held in Munich from January 20-22 where Real Madrid won (article here). The second qualifier was held February 10-12 in Patras (article here), Greece where Joventut Badalona won. This event was once again won by a Spanish club, this time by FC Barcelona who soundly defeated Casademont Zaragoza for the automatic qualifying bid 84-51. The 3rd place winner was the Next Generation Team and the best matchup in terms of talent and competitiveness was the Next Generation Team vs FC Barcelona held on March 4th, 2022. This is the 3rd Spanish team in 3 events to get the auto qualifying bid, reaffirming as the top league in terms of junior talent in Europe. After watching all 3 qualifying events in terms of depth of talent Munich was the strongest, Patras was next, and this event was third. However, there is a player here who could arguably be the best long term prospect from any of the ANGT events held so far in 2023…

Dame Sarr Italy SG, 6’6, 2006 Born, FC Barcelona

Sarr (pictured) was one of the top prospects we featured at the FIBA U16 Europe (article here) and was clearly the top prospect at this event and voted on the All Tournament Team. He is exactly what the NBA has moved towards in the last few seasons: A long athletic multi positional defensive wing who, while still raw, has potential as a shooter and shot creator. He is a very dominant defender at this level with good reads and anticipation in the passing lanes, getting 12 steals in 4 games at this event and completely taking out Lucas Langarita, a top 15 2005 born prospect, out of his comfort zone in the championship game. Sarr is a strong finisher with the ability to dunk with either hand and/or absorb contact and finish strong around the rim (granted the front court talent at this event was not on par with the other qualifying events). He averaged more than 5 free throws per game at 76% and while 4 games is a small sample size, his form showed more consistency from the line than at U16 Europe. He also has the ability to score from beyond the arc even when closely guarded, as he showed hitting two and-one-3-pointers during the championship game. He has a very quick first step and good handles as a wing, making him a real menace on the fast break. The next stage of the development is to get more consistent with his form the further he shoots as his follow through can drift from time to time from beyond the arc (11/42 from 3 at event) and to have better shot selection in half court sets. He tends to settle for shots from 3, when he has the handles to, at the very least, get the mid range shot or even into the paint. He averaged 19.8 points per game and appears to have taken over the pole position for the top 2006 Born international prospect.

Dayan Nessah Switzerland SF, 6’7, 2006 Born, FC Barcelona

Nessah was a bit of an unsung hero at this event, if that’s possible for a player playing for FC Barcelona. At 6’7 he plays more like an undersized power forward than a small forward at this level but there’s no reason he can’t play as a small forward at higher levels. He averaged 15 points and 8.2 rebounds and has gone 8/16 from 3 in 2 seasons at ANGT while shooting 70.8% from the free throw line at this event. The fact that he has a strong base, enjoys contact, and has shown proficiency as a shooter (granted small sample size) is what makes him intriguing as a prospect. At this stage, his outside shooting consists mainly of corner 3 shots and he likes to use his strength to create space around the rim. A strong finisher, he is more of a 2 foot dunker than a 1 foot dunker that may cause him some issues at the next level. He can get tunnel vision with looking to score and force the issue some. He needs to work on his footwork, both on the defensive end and especially on the offensive end. He was able to bully opponents at this tournament where there was a lack of bigs. One of the prospects to watch during the final 4 to see how he handles more length and strength and better competition but is an intriguing prospect who did not participate at the U16 European Championships over the summer.

Lucas Langarita Spain, SG, 6’5, 2005 Born, Casademont Zaragoza

Langarita was dominant at this tournament until he faced Sarr and FC Barcelona. Voted to the tournament’s top 5, Langarita averaged 18 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5 assists. He plays point guard for Zaragoza, even though he is listed as a SG here. Langarita has solid handles and good form on his jump shot and really good size for a guard at this level. He lacks a great first step and has a high turnover ratio, making his potential as a point guard prospect limited. Against elite guards like Sarr at the top levels, he will need to adapt and probably play more off guard instead of the lead guard he plays as a u18. In order to make this transition, he needs to work on movement without the ball as he tends to be disengaged when he is not the primary distributor. His development for the higher levels is contingent primarily on his developing consistency as a shooter and his willingness to play off the ball.

Mouhamed Faye Senegal, C, 6’10, 2005 Born, ANGT Zadar

Faye was one of our top prospects at the FIBA 2022 U18 African Championships (article here). Other than him this event lacked true post players for him to go up against, making his evaluation more difficult given his style of play. He is a well build big with a big wingspan and good athleticism. Voted to the tournament’s top 5, he averaged 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 14.8 points on a staggering 82.4% from the field. Showing surprisingly good hands, he is a technically sound screener who picked and dove on every play and then posted up for the remaining of the shot clock on offense. On defense he protects the rim well and showed good understanding, defending the pick and roll and even had some success defending guards on the perimeter. He does not, however, have any pick and pop ability at this time. He shot 3/12 from the free throw line and as stated previously doesn’t read the defense on the roll due to his lack of perimeter skills. He automatically will dive, even in situations where if he stayed on the perimeter he would be wide open. While his shot is a big question mark, he did show some handles when the defender overplayed him.

Jelani Towa Finland, SG, 6’4, 2006 Born, Helsinki Basketball

Towa was a starter on Finland’s U16 European team which finished 2nd in the B Division last August. At this event he averaged 17.5 points and went 14/30 from 3 (46.7%). While he prefers the corner 3, he is just a good shooter who plays off his jump shooting ability to self create for himself. He needs to improve his focus at the free throw line as both at the U16’s, and now here, he hovered at around 60%. He has decent athleticism, but currently struggles on the defensive end. Whether it’s due to lack of intensity, basic understanding, or both, it’s something that was noticeable watching and then later confirmed in the stats (0 block shots 3 steals in 4 games). Nevertheless his outside shooting potential is a plus skill for him as his volume and percentage an outlier after the 3 qualifying events.

Mohammad Amini Iran, SF/PF, 6’7, 2005 Born, ANGT Zadar

Just returning from the BWB in Salt Lake City, Amini demonstrated his skill set ay Zadar as a very smart and well rounded player averaging 10.2 points for the tournament. Amini possesses excellent footwork, good spacing and good vision. He is very advanced in terms of skill for this level as his moves and counter moves are very pro like. This is why he has done well in the the French u21 league and been invited to these high level youth events. His upside is limited because he has the height of a wing when his ideal position at the next level is a pick and pop power forward. With improvement on his outside shooting, he will increase his potential as a small forward.

Kasparas Jakucionis Lithuania, CG, 6’4, 2006 Born, FC Barcelona

The Lithuanian was voted MVP for this event averaging 19.2 points 7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He shot the ball extremely well from the outside going 12/29 from beyond the arc and shooting 90.5% (19/21) from the charity stripe. His shooting ability was very good here but he benefited tremendously by teams focusing so much of their energy on Sarr. He played out of position for FC Barcelona as the lead guard which is commendable as an intangible, but also exposed a major flaw in his game, his lack of handles. He turned it over at 4.5 per game and when pressured in the back court often had his eyes looking down at the ball instead of up the court. His handles are more at a small forward’s level than a point guard level at this stage of development. Perhaps forcing him to play the point will help him become more proficient as a a ball handler and decision maker,  but it is why he is further down the list given his standout numbers at this event.

Toni Bilic Croatia, SF/PF, 6’7, 2005 Born, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana

Bilic was voted to the tournament  top 5 and is the second leading scorer after 3 qualifiers averaging 21.8 points per game. He had a nearly 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio while shooting 47% from the field. There is a need to improve on the defensive end of the ball

Imran Suljanovic Austria, SF/PF, 6’7, 2006 Born, ANGT Zadar

Soljanovic averaged 7.5 points per game, getting inconsistent touches playing on the make shift team. The point guard for the ANGT was more of a shot taker than a table setter, which hurt players like Soljanovic. He has a nice tool set but needs to get more aggressive and stronger.

Adrian Mathis Italy, PG, 5’10, 2007 Born, FC Barcelona

Mathis was one of the younger players at the event and the best traditional point guard for FC Barcelona. As a role player for his team he hit some timely shots throughout the event.

**The final ANGT qualifier will be held in Belgrade, Serbia from March 31 to April 2nd. This should be a good event to scout given historically strong teams will be participating including: INSEP, Mega Mis Belgrade, Anadolu Efes, Valencia, Crevena Zvezda and the ANGT team.


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