Euroleague Adidas Next Generation Tournament Valencia Qualifying Event
After a summer with no FIBA national team events due to Covid-19, this was an event that was highly anticipated by both European Scouts and the players themselves. Unfortunately it started with a slight disappointment even before the event began with some of the best talent unable to participate. It was announced on December 16th that Nanterre 92,’s Victor Wembanyama, considered the best NBA prospect outside of the United States would be out for 8 weeks due to a fibula stress fracture (link). Then days prior to the tournament another top International prospect, Congolese 6’11 big Yannick Nzosa, was called up to first team duties for Malaga’s who had suffered a rash of injuries to their bigs and thus was forced out of the event. These two top talents will surely be well recognized names in upcoming drafts and were missed at this tournament, but it allowed other talented players to shine.
The player who stood out the most in this event in terms of NBA potential was Frenchman Killian Malwaya, of ASVEL. This 2005 born, 6’4 guard averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game prior to his team shutting him down for the last game. Despite being two years younger than most of the field, he was able to penetrate and score with ease and earn all tournament honors. He showed athleticism and slashing ability. For the tournament he was very efficient from the field while yielding few turnovers. Shooting 71% from the free throw line, while not Earth shattering for a guard, it does indicate that he has some touch and potential as a shooter. His next step in his progression as a potential NBA player is to start to take shots from beyond the arc, and be proficient. But he was by far the player that displayed the highest upside in this tournament.
On the other end of the spectrum was 2003 Dominican Republic born Jean Montero. Montero is currnetly playing for Gran Canaria, both on the youth and first team. Montero can be found on many 2022 mocks, so the expectations coming into the event, given his reputation as one of the best international guards for the 2022 draft, were high. But ultimately he failed to stand out. At just 6’2, Montero is more of a combo guard than a true point guard and some feel that he was focused on working on his playmaking skills to set others up in this tournament. If that is the case, he has a ways yet to go. As he averaged 3.5 turnovers to his 4.8 assists. His 9.3 points per game were pedestrian for a player with his reputation. Overall he did nothing to enhance his stock here.
2003 Born Jeremy Sochan made first team all tournament honors for Radiopharn Ulm. At 6’8, this 2021 Baylor commit, via Poland, demonstrated some solid athleticism and agility. He averaged 15.5 ppg and 12.8 rebounds while shooting 50% from two. His shooting percentage both at the free throw line and from three were not impressive for this tournament but he stood out as one of the top talents in this tournament.
Spanish born Miguel Allen playing for Joventut Badalona had some impressive dunks during the tournament. The forward scored 22 points 10 rebounds in the final versus Barcelona. An all tournament selection, he averaged 14.5 ppg and 8.8 rebounds for the tournament.
Barcelona’s Michael Caicedo was the tournament MVP. This 2003 born wing is 6’6, scoring 29 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in the finals. For the tournament he averaged 14.5 points per game and had a very impressive 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio while shooting 44% from 3 and 15/15 from the free throw line. With shooting at a premium, this is a prospect to monitor. He is not as high as some of the other talent his age as he has a harder time creating and scoring on drives.
With Victor Wembayama unavailable, Nanterre had very little team success at this event but it allowed Marc Antoine Loemba to get some shine, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he gained some interest from both college and pro scouts. The 6’2, 2003 born guard is explosive. He demonstrated a nice ability to get down hill with his crossover and explosive finishes. He averaged 16 points per game and was able to average at least 4 free throws per game while shooting at a 70% clip from the free throw line. He possesses active hands on defense helping him to average is 3.8 steals. On the downside, averaging more turnovers than assists during the tournament is never a good thing but all in all he left his mark and earned an all tournament selection.
Other players of note:
Maxime Raynaud (France): Playing for Nanterre, the 7 footer averaged 14.5 ppg and 11.5 rebs for the tournament. If you don’t recognize him but follow the draft. He was featured this fall in a now famous viral video where he and Wembanyama are going head to head against Rudy Gobert and Vincent Poirier in a 2 on 2 half court scrimmage. (below)
Gael Bonilla (Mexico) moved to Spain at age 14: The Barcelona guard did not play particularly well in the tournament but with his 6’8 frame he shows some intrigue. His best game was against Ulm where he scored 14 points, had 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.
Kany Tchanda (Republic of Congo): At this stage of his development he is a 6’8 center for Gran Canaria. This youngster showed some flashes as a big, averaging 13.8 points and 9 rebounds. A good athlete, but to really put himself on the radar he will need to hope for some physical growth and add some play making ability away from the rim.
Zaccharie Risacher (France): This AVEL wing at 6’7 is an intriguing prospect. Son of Stéphane Risacher (Olympic silver medalist in 2000) he showed some touch that his dad once demonstrated during his time with some of the best teams in Europe. He only shot 6/20 from behind the 3 point line but showed enough that he is now on everyone’s radar.
Conrad Martinez (Spain): The Juventus Badalona point guard is undersized as a prospect at 5’11, and while he averaged more turnovers than assists, he had the uncanny ability to get downhill with ease.
The Next ANGT qualifier is January 22-24 in Munich and then February 21-23 in Belgrade. Which will give draft pundits and scouts more games to observe their development.