For the first time in history, the host team Germany won the Albert Schweitzer Tournament going unbeaten, after a close final game against Serbia. The tournament is seen as an “unofficial” U18 World Cup, even if this 2016 edition was relatively disappointing in terms of elite talent, due to the absence of the top prospects of 98-99 generation (Isaiah Hartenstein, Frank Ntilikina, Isaac Bonga) and of a reduced field of participants (12 instead of traditional 16). Kostja Mushidi (’98) was selected MVP of the tournament and Davide Moretti (’98), Aleksa Radanov (’98), Richard Freudenberg (’98), Borisa Simanic (’98) and Rongzhen Zhu (’98) the All-Tournament Team.
Following the list of the most interesting prospect seen during the competition.
Kostja Mushidi (6-5, ’98, PG, Germany)
The MVP of the tournament solidified himself as one of the top prospects of his age group in Europe, and likely one of the few having NBA potential that played in Mannheim. Standing 6-5, he shows terrific size for European standards, combined with great energy and intensity. Defensively he puts tremendous pressure on the ball, showing the versatility to guard both forward positions, thanks to his strength and leaping abilities. He’s a solid and versatile scorer, able to attack the basket and also hit from three, especially in spot situations. He’s definitely not selfish, but he absolutely needs to work on his shot selection and playmaking skills, since he’s not a pass first point guard. He closed the tournament with 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 45.5% FG in 23.1 minutes per game.
Richard Freudenberg (6-8, ’98, SG, Germany)
The future St John’s shooting guard confirmed his reputation over last couple of years during the Mannheim tournament. He has an amazing combination of size and mobility for the wing position, with the ability to contribute both from the backcourt and in the painted area. He’s able to hit both from three point or by attacking the rim, using his mobility and size to create mismatches. Nevertheless he generally gives the impression that he lacks the necessary assertiveness and feel to fully utilize his physical abilities from a basketball standpoint. He’s fluid and smooth, but he lacks positioning and competitive fire sometimes. Furthermore his shot – including 3 point – lacks consistency, and he struggles especially against the physical pressure of defenders increases. He closed the competition with 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 36.4% FG in 20.8 minutes per game.
Borisa Simanic (6-10, ’98, PF, Serbia)
Simanic, along with Mushidi and Freudenberg, were the three clearcut NBA prospects from this competition, even if his performance lacked consistency. He definitely had a sloppy start, only beginning to show his potential in the semi-final game against Italy. He has impressive mobility for his size, showing the rare ability to make the“second jump” as a shot blocker, also having terrific intimidation skills at the youth level. He has range and also the ability to connect from the perimeter, even if he must work on his mechanics and consistency (26,1% from 3 points during the tournament). Furthermore he definitely needs to work on his post game, lacking polish and pivot foot fundamentals. Most of his offensive repertoire stems from his ability to attack from the dribble the opponents. He closed the competition with 12.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 41.3% FG, 26.1% 3P in 29.1 minutes per game.
Onuralp Bitim (6-5, ’99, SG, Turkey)
Last summer Bitim showed his ability as a tremendous slasher with a vast offensive repertoire, showing good size for the position, with athleticism and speed. He excels in the transition game, showing the ability to attack the rim with a variety of skills. Furthermore, he excels in the use of fakes, eurosteps, change of speed, and has amazing body control. He could work on his midrange game and on his outside shot. After a year spent in US with Huntington Prep he looked stronger, both in his upper and lower body, but he seems to have lost some of his quickness. Furthermore he struggled a lot in perimeter shooting at less than 20% from three point line, definitely a skill where he has to show better confidence and consistency. He closed out the tournament with 16.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 41% FG, 17.8% from 3 points in 26.8 minutes per game.
Bathiste Tchouaffe (6-5, ’98, SG, France)
Probably the most hyped prospect of this French 98-99 generation, thanks to his solid athletic skills and impressive basketball body. He’s still rather raw, both on ball handling and from a shooting standpoint, but the potential is impressive. He has to work a lot on his fundamentals, but in terms of natural talent it’s quite clear he has the potential to become a solid European player. During the tournament he struggled with field goal percentage (29.5%) and in general his scores came more from instinct and glimpses of talent other than from organized basketball. He closed the competition with 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 29.5% FG in 26.1 minutes per game.
Milos Glisic (6-9, ’98, SF, Serbia)
Glisic was the top scorer of a really tough and solid Serbian team, sharing the leadership role with Simanic. Over the last couple of years he has worked a lot on his body, putting on some muscle especially in the upperbody. He’s one of the few players seen in the competition able to hit with effectiveness both in the painted area and outside the three point line. He has shown great instincts as an offensive rebounder, thanks to his sense of position and the ability to use his body to draw contact. He’s definitely an old style player, not an elite athlete able to create from the dribble but solid, polished and skilled in all fundamentals. He might improve his post game and his handle to better evolve as a solid Euroleague player. He finished the competition with 15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 55.6% FG in 23.7 minutes per game.
Jaylen Hoard (6-8, ’99, SF, France)
Just like Simanic and Freudenberg, another player that underachieved was Jaylen Hoard, even if we have to consider he’s one year younger. As a 6-8 SF he has great athleticism and intriguing shooting skills, especially in spot up situations. Defensively he’s able to use his wingspan and mobility, being a solid intimidator. He’s still raw in creating off the dribble, but he showed the potential to become a reliable swingman in the future. Furthermore, he showed solid passing skills. During this tournament he struggled in shooting, being inconsistent, in addition his attitude in terms of effort and commitment was quite weak. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 35.6% FG in 18.1 minutes per game.
Ahmet Can Duran (6-8, ’99, PF/C, Turkey)
Can Duran is changing his body structure, losing a lot of baby fat, and consequently modifying his game, which was strongly relying on his size and ability to bang with opponents in the painted area. He still has superior positioning and passing skills for a big man, combined with a superb basketball IQ, but he’s struggling a little more in adapting to the game at his new body, especially when he tries to shoot outside the painted area. Nevertheless I still consider him an intriguing long term project. He closed with 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 32% FG in 23.8 minutes per game.
Oscar da Silva (6-8, ’98, SF, Germany)
He’s definitely the prospect with the lowest level of technical and tactical development of the young German generation, but probably with one of the highest ceilings. He has an amazing structure on which to build up some muscle without losing agility and quickness, furthermore he already has a superb body control and balance. He has solid fundamentals and he’s definitely an effective rebounder for the role, but he definitely has to work on his confidence. His shot is promising and he seldom forces shot, usually being in control. Definitely a prospect to monitor and track. He closed the tournament with 7.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 69% FG in 19.3 minutes per game.
Davide Moretti (6-2, ’98, PG, Italy)
Moretti is definitely the best player of his team, utilizing his experience with his professional team during the season (Treviso, 2nd Italian league). He has worked a lot on his body, even if he still has to bulk up to face higher levels of competition in Europe. As a 6-2 PG he has solid size for the position with good quickness and explosiveness, but he’s definitely not an off the charts athlete. His biggest strength is his playmaking ability as he leads the team with poise and confidence on the offensive side. Spacing and decision making are superior as well, he’s definitely not scared to take responsibility in clutch situations. He has to work on his shot, especially the pull-up jumper in P&R situations, and to show a blue collar attitude and hustle. He closed the tournament with 14.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 38.1% FG in 24.6 minutes per game.
Rongzhen Zhu (7-1, ’98, C, China)
Rongzhen Zhu continues the solid tradition of big men coming from China in terms of size and talent. As a true 7-1 center Zhu is long and lanky, but with a solid frame compared to his predecessors at the same age (Qi Zhou) and similar mobility. He showed the ability to hit the jumper from outside the painted area when served in spot situations. Furthermore he has shown nimble feed and a solid offensive post repertoire for his age. With his length and mobility he’s already a solid rim protector and rebounder. As most of these kind of prospects he’s definitely a long term project, with an impressive ceiling. He closed the tournament with 14.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 46.5% FG in 27.5 minutes per game.