The final weekend of the 2023 ANGT season was held from May 17- May 21 where the four champions of each qualifier, 3 wildcards (1 was host Zalgiris Kaunas), and a best of the best NGT select team played 3 games each to determine who would play in a championship game. If you would like to read about the qualifying rounds and the top prospects here is a link.

With teams forced into some shake ups due to injury ( Dayan Nessah, Ben Saraf, & Lazar Gacic) or other (Dwayne Aristode who has been rumored to be seeking US high school options for next year during this spring’s AAU circuit) there was a clear divide in team’s chances of winning between the top three teams and the rest. FC Barcelona, NGT team, and Real Madrid were clearly the best teams at this event with Real Madrid having to defeat both on back to back days to win this year’s championship. First by firmly beating FC Barcelona 72-54 then by beating the NGT team 71-60 in the championship game. Here are the top prospects from this event:

The top two 2006 Born international prospects in Europe are Dame Sarr and Hugo Gonzalez who are clearly above the rest in terms of NBA potential. The two wings are at the beginning stage of a blossoming rivalry as one plays for Real Madrid and the other plays for rival FC Barcelona and this rivalry figures to grow as they graduate to their senior clubs and jockey for supremacy in the 2025 NBA Draft.

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

The talented Italian didn’t have the best statistical final 3 games but he has the potential to be an impactful two way player that is so coveted in this NBA. With a long wingspan and a quick first step, he can easily get by the first line of defense and finish strong around the cup. He has a floater that he will use on occasion when the lane is clogged and while he does not take mid-range shots, he is a very willing but, at this stage, a streaky 3 point shooter. He’s also a very willing passer and able to set teammates up for wide open shots, thanks to his first step and team oriented mindset. On defense, he clogs the lanes and was able to guard post players on switches with minimal help given his wingspan, despite often playing against players a year or so older. In terms of things to improve upon, he will need to become more consistent from the free throw line and beyond the arc. His shooting mechanics are sound and should improve as he ages. Developing more of a mid-range game when his perimeter shot isn’t going in is something he should look to add. At this early stage in his basketball career, he is primarily scoring in transition or from three. He has too good of a floater and first step to be settling from three at this level. The potential of being a 2 way player that can set up others is why despite not being voted in the top 5 for this event, he is the top NBA prospect from this group. (highlights of him at ANGT here)

Hugo Gonzalez Spain, 6’7 SG/SF 2006 Born Real Madrid

The Spaniard was voted in the top 5 of this tournament and helped lead Real Madrid to the title. He is viewed by most as the top 2006 Born international basketball prospect. In the last 12 months Gonzalez has won silver at FIBA WC U17, had a brief stint with the Real Madrid senior team, and most recently lead his Madrid team to win the ANGT, plus MVP. A 3 level scorer, he is explosive when he gets a head of steam, finishing plays with powerful dunks on fast breaks or back cuts in the half court. He’s a good free throw shooter and will make strong V cuts around the elbow for easy mid range jumpers. He had a disappointing 4 games from 3 but has a good shooting form and range is not an issue for him. On defense, he’s usually looking for the steal to get on the fast break and will use his strong vertical for some blocks. He’s well built,  and will use his body on defense at times instead of moving his feet which may lead to mixed results with current NBA rules in place. Has a strong will to win that can energize him and his team but also got him into foul trouble, which happened against Sarr and FC Barcelona. An example of his fiery demeanor in this tournament was with seconds remaining in the game and the game well in hand, Gonzalez blocked Sarr’s corner three to the stands and took a long hard stare just to let Sarr know who the top dog is, at least for now. He has the desire and passion to be great. This rivalry should only help both in their development. (highlights of him at ANGT here)

Nikola Topic Serbia, 6’6 CG 2005 Born Crvena Zvezda Belgrade

No one could stop Topic in qualifiers or ANGT finals. He averaged 30.7 points per game in the 3 games and if you include the qualifiers in 7 games scored 199 points. His shooting numbers are astounding in ANGT this year (57/62 from the free throw line and 14/31 from 3). His shooting form is pristine and will translate at any level and has logo 3 range. He also is extremely strong and efficient in pick and roll situations and while he is not a particularly athletic guard at the top level, he uses momentum, screens, angles and defensive miscues to his advantage at all times. He will split the defense if the post defender drags on his on-ball screen assignment, he will follow the screener’s defender and use his body to cause confusion for the defender. He is the best I’ve seen this year at the non NBA level to read the on ball screen and roll option and while I don’t have access to data on this, it is safe to assume that he would be in the top percentile in on ball screen and roll actions. He is also always looking to create offensive opportunities by always attempting a counter attack on a defensive stop, hoping to catch the offensive team sleeping. When going to the hole, he is able to absorb contact, create separation, and finish a play off. Given his strength in the pick and roll, he does have the ability to be a lead guard, as he has good vision and is a good passer, though he will always be offensive minded. He has a floater, although he prefers to absorb contact and get closer to the rim but may have to adapt at the higher levels where there are stronger players with bigger wingspans.. With the second best player of the team, Gacic, being hurt did not have as many assists to show for it, as in the qualifying round. He also missed the 7 footer on defense as defense is what Topic will need to show if he wants a shot at the top level. He actually went in a defensive stance on a few occasions at this event relative to last. He has a hard time staying in front of players, but is adept in being in the passing lane and can anticipate plays. The team played a lot of zone at this event to keep Topic fresh and because they couldn’t stop anyone on defense. He is draft eligible in 2024 should he decide to enter. Has the offensive repertoire to play a role in the NBA but his defense is nowhere near where it needs to be. His draft stock will be determined by how much improvement he makes on that side of the ball. (ANGT Highlights Here)

Mouhamed Faye Senegal, 6’10, C, 2005 Born, Reggio Emilia

Faye played for the NGT team in both the qualifier and this tournament. He possesses a well developed frame, a long wingspan, and at 6’10 moves and runs very fluidly of a guard. He dominated opponents in the post at this event and had a good matchup early on against Ruben Prey where he played very well scoring 16 points with13 rebounds in a win. A role player at the pro level, he has mastered the pick and dive. He sets good strong picks at the top of the key or wing and with his fluidity is very good at diving to the rim and finding a good angle for a pass or lob. He has good hands making him a true menace in the air, both on lobs and on offensive put backs. If he catches the ball early on a dive, he has the fluidity and court awareness to avoid charges and spin around the defender who is positioning himself for a charge. Showed some ability in the post, mainly on the right side of the floor. He is a threat as a cutter given his good hands. Has potential as a mid post passer. Shooting however is a glaring weakness. He went 9/16 from the charity stripe which is a huge improvement from the 3/12 he shot during qualifiers. His shooting form is long and winded from the line but does now seem to have a good follow through (how he gets to that follow through is unorthodox). He made a baseline jumper that looked good. but that was an outlier. He does not take shots outside of the key unless it’s an end of shot clock situation. Defensively is where his real NBA potential lies. His fluidity is both in running and moving laterally, allowing him, at this level, to switch on guards without being taken advantage of. Finding switchable interior players at the NBA level is a rare commodity and Faye may have that potential. The lack of penetration from guards when there was a switch was remarkable. On occasion he would fall for a pump fake on the perimeter but often was able to recover and block or alter the shot at the rim. He has an uncanny ability to not just block shots but to get steals by putting his hands in the passing lanes and has good defensive instincts. Voted top 5 for this event and averaged 19.75 points and 10.5 rebounds while helping lead the NGT team to the championship game. (highlights of him at event here)

Ruben Prey Portugal, 6’10, PF/C, 2005 Born, Juventut Badalona

Prey was good at this event, he just was missing a key contributor to his team in Dwayne Aristode and it made it too much to overcome as they had narrow losses to both NGT team and host Zalgiris Kaunas ending up 0-3. (Prey was extensively written about in the qualifier article here) Prey averaged 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.33 blocks for the event. He scored 20 points and 15 rebounds against Mouhamed Faye in their head to head matchup. Prey has a very unorthodox style and prefers playing on the perimeter, and using his long first step to get around slower post defenders and has a go-to up and under move when he gets close to the rim that usually gets him to the line where he is very efficient (14/18). He can hit an occasional 3 pointer, but rarely is in triple threat on the perimeter, usually instead in a negative step with his back turned halfway away from the basket, while scanning the court. This limits his ability to shoot the ball on the perimeter other than catch and shoot situations. Not particularly explosive from a dead stop, he does possess some handles for a post player and is most dangerous when on the run, where he can finish plays above the rim. Has some length and likes defending on the perimeter to get in the passing lane so he can run the break. Has a good motor and great stamina for a post player. (Highlights from ANGT Kaunas here)

Egor Demin Russia, 6’8, CG, 2006 Born, Real Madrid

Demin is listed as a point guard for Real Madrid but it is really shared duties between him and Jan Vide. At 6’8, he does possess very good handles and vision that allows him to make point guard like plays. Whether he becomes the primary ballhandler at the pro level or has more of a point forward role given his height and length has yet to be determined. His biggest offensive weapon is his silky smooth jump shot. He is dangerous beyond the 3 point line, in particular in catch and shoot situations. He is quick and agile, but does not possess a great first step or leaping ability. This can be statistically justified just by looking at his shooting chart and percentages in 2 pointers (13/34, 38.2%) versus 3 pointers (18/42, 42.9%). Averaged 2.1 assist to turnover ratio in Kaunas, and is a very willing passer. Defensively his length and size help him get deflections and steals. He’s not the strongest player, but should fill out as he gets older. Averaged 10.9 points per game in ANGT this season for a loaded and undefeated championship squad.

Karim Lopez Mexico 6’7, Forward, 2007 Born, Joventut Badalona

Lopez was the true beneficiary of the absence of teammate Dwayne Aristode going from a little over 12.5 minutes per game in qualifiers to over 35 minutes per game in Kaunas. One of the youngest players at this event, he averaged 14 points and 6.7 rebounds for the event. Still growing, he may be closer to 6’8 at this time. Demonstrated a nice repeatable jump shot and was very effective in the corner, either from long distance or on back cuts lay-ins and dunks. Was comfortable defending the older and bigger post players at this event averaging a little over 1 block per contest. A good athlete, he won the slam dunk contest in Kaunas. Has room to improve, shooting 50% from the free throw line and 31% from three. He is regarded as one of the top 2007 Born international basketball prospects. Hoping he will represent Mexico at FIBA U16 June 5-11, 2023 as Mexico is in the same group as team USA. (ANGT Kaunas highlights here)

Illan Pietrus France, 6’2, PG, 2005 Born, Strasbourg SIG

Pietrus was the lead point guard for the NGT team who played Real Madrid in the finals. A good shooter; in the 7 games he played this year, for the NGT team he went 17/41 from 3 (41.5%) and 18/21 (86%) from the free throw line. Averaged a 1.75 assist to turnover ratio despite playing with teammates he had just met for the first time in the same week and was entrusted by coach Petteri Koponen to lead the offense.He has a strong crossover, is a good athlete, and a good wingspan for his height. He is very sound defensively and can hold his own against taller post players on switches due to his natural strength. He does have an area where he should put some work in to improve his NBA chances. He needs to be more aggressive in pick and roll situations. Unlike Nikola Topic, he methodically brings the ball up the court and methodically probes and often takes a negative step when a big gives him a pick and roll. He is for the most part looking for step back three. This has been the same case for different events I have observed him including FIBA events when he represented France. He has the handles and ability to split pick and roll actions and/or get to the lane more rapidly with a positive first step. He also tends to shy away from contact, despite having good strength often wondering why he didn’t get the call. If he could do one thing to improve his NBA chances, it would be to read and diagnose pick and roll actions more quickly (use Nikola Topic as the example) and increase his percentiles in that action.

David Mirkovic Montenegro, 6’9, PF/C, Born in 2006 SC Derby

Mirkovic did not have the impact in the finals as he did in the qualifiers as he often played behind Mouhamed Faye and played 50% less minutes than in the qualifiers. Yet he still had an impact on the team, showing great shooting touch for a post player and was often the primary offensive facilitator for the NGT team when Pietrus was off the floor. In 8 games he went 7/23 from three and 19/23 from the free throw line and showed nice soft touch from the outside for a post player. A good screener, he is an ideal pick and pop player. Averaged 7.9 rebounds for the 8 games, showing good defensive instincts and strong hands. Not the swiftest or most athletic, he creates space with his wide body and girth. He did not show the great passing ability at ANGT that he showed in FIBA u16s last summer. A little short at 6’9 and not the best athlete, so a growth spurt of a couple inches would help, but probably the best shooting post player in the 2006 born class. (highlights of him at ANGT here)

Alexandros Samodurov Greece, 6’11, PF, 2005 Born, Panathinaikos

Samodurov was one of the better players in the initial qualifier and one of the bigger names in this tournament. He’s the primary reason that the ANGT picked the team as a wild card over some probably better equipped and deserving teams (Panathinaikos went 0-3 in this tournament). He didn’t look as good in Kaunas as he did in Munich (Munich Write up here) but still managed to average 17 points, 7 rebounds and over 1 block per game. What he does best is take opponent’s post players off the dribble and get by them with his quicker first step to finish at the rim. He also is good in the post, using a quick release shot off the bounce or taking a back turn short two. He has a short wingspan, measured at 6’9 at BWB Salt Lake City, in February. Not particularly explosive was measured with a 26′ vertical at the same event. Shows good form from the free throw line, going 77% (33/43). Needs to become more consistent from 3 (3/21) and cut down on turnovers (29 in 7 games) to continue to develop as a prospect.

Bogoljub Markovic Serbia, 6’11, PF, Born in 2005 Mega Mis Belgrade

For some scouts Markovic will be rated much higher than where I believe he should be rated (Voted top 5 in Kaunas). He is best on the move, where at 6’11 has the agility and footwork for a euro step and has good hands, catching deep passes on the run. Seeks opportunities on cuts and on the fast break to finish strong with a dunk. He has good handles for a player his size, where he is comfortable handling it a bit and making the right decision on offensive sets. Has good but inconsistent shooting mechanics going 7/21 from three and 30/49 from the free throw line. He isn’t particularly explosive (standing vert 23.5′ at BWB) and is painfully soft. Scoring 3 points in the head to head match up against stronger Mouhamed Faye and in the qualifiers disappearing against 7 footer Lazar Gacic. He does not post up much because of his lack of strength and will to be physical. He does rebound, averaging more than 11 per contest but does not block many shots (6’11 wingspan with 8’9.75 standing reach according to BWB Salt Lake City). He plays like a forward rather than a post player but it remains to be seen whether he can he continue his success at the top level when facing forwards who have equal or greater length than he has. (Highlights of him at  ANGT Kaunas here)

Jan Vide Slovenia, 6’5, CG, 2005 Born, Real Madrid

Vide’s last game for Real Madrid was the championship victory in Kaunas as he is reportedly heading to UCLA in the fall. Voted MVP at this event averaging 19.25 points and 3.6 assists in his 8 games at ANGT this season. Averaging 1.81 assist to turnover ratio, he has the ability to play some lead guard in a pinch. He has a very strong first step and has the handles to easily get to the rim ( a little Dragic like as I first mentioned in FIBA U17 article here). At 6’5 he has intrigue as a potential lead guard at the top level. He has improved in his shot selection over the past season of trusting his teammates and not forcing shots up. He does have a glaring weakness that will be both exposed in college and as a pro without some work. He needs to work on the mechanics of his shot. Unlike many modern players, he tends to release the ball of his shot not on the way up but at the peak of his jump which makes it more difficult to stay consistent and has caused him to have a slow release and too often be short on his jumper. He also tends to cock his shot a little further behind his head than the typical jump shooter to get more separation given the slow release. While opponents should not leave him wide open, his range is pretty much limited to the free throw line in, at this time, limiting his top level potential until scouts see some shooting mechanics changes.

Mohamed Diawara France, 6’8, Forward, 2005 Born Paris Basketball

Diawara (playing for NGT in Kaunas) has been an intriguing prospect for scouts for the last couple seasons and was one of the surprise omissions from the BWB Salt Lake City event in February. He’s 6’8 with an extremely long wingspan and good size. He can handle the ball well for his size showing off a crossover and likes to play the point forward role. He played much more efficiently here than in qualifiers where his poor shooting and turnovers may have led to that February omission. He is a good athlete who likes to run on offense and pick up on defense from the three point line extended. In his career at ANGT he has taken 68 2 pointers and 69 3 point shots. In Kaunas, he went 7/19 from three and showed some good athleticism on some alley oops and put back dunks. He will back down smaller opponents in the post. He is one of the most raw players on this list ,shooting 14/29 career from the free throw line and continuously making questionable decisions. Here lies the problem with him: His best attribute is his playmaking potential, as he has good length and handles, but his decision making and his ability to see the play progress are both very questionable at this point of his career and this is the case both on offense and on defense. His shot is very streaky and when it’s not falling, he continues to chuck from the outside instead of moving without the ball and finding cutting or post up opportunities. If he can continue to work on being a more efficient basketball player, he has the measurables and athleticism to be an NBA player.

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

Jakucionis was voted top 5 at this event averaging 18.6 points and 4.7 assists per game in 7 ANGT games. Jakucionis has a nice repeatable jump shot and is very aggressive going to the hole. Has some strength and can play through contact and score. As mentioned in the qualifier report, he continues to have turnover issues, averaging 4.1 turnovers in 30 minutes of game play. His handles can get loose and lead to poor decision making when sped up through pressure.

Youssouf Traore Mali, 6’9, PF, 2006 Born FC Barcelona

Traore was a late addition to the squad playing primarily for Alicante in the LEB Gold Division in Spain until getting the call as a replacement player for Barcelona in these finals. He has a very mature body for a player his age and blessed with a long wingspan, he is a very aggressive rebounder and defender. Averaging a double double at this event with 11.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game, he was best cutting to the basket and around the key on offense. Defensively he was a good rebounder and used his physicality to move opponents away from the post. He showed some good agility around the key and a good vertical around the rim. Shot 5/13 from the free throw line and only 44% from the field.


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