By Simon Dresden
Also see: Euroleague Juniors Preview: Group A
Euroleague Preview — The Next Generation including draft eligible players born 1986-1989.
The kid everyone is looking out for this year. His rare combination of size and skill will make him a Euro superstar in short time. He’ll get extensive playing time on a good team and had some good exposure to
prime competition last year where he excelled. For Europe, he is
a match up nightmare reminiscent of a young Bodiroga or a Papaloukas.
By NBA standards his athleticism is a liability, especially on the
defensive end. He has made strides in improving his footspeed but
he still relies too much on his hands to defend players. Nonetheless,
he has an amazing feel and passion for the game, plus he’s fearless
and beaming with confidence.
Pietro Aradori (6-4 SG 1988)
Young talented SG who is light years away from contributing anything of value for his team on this level of competition. Athleticism and body need lots of work.
Stefano Gentile (6-1 PG 1989)
Filip Kruslin (6-6 SG 1989)
Typical Balkan scorer with a sweet jumper and good size. His athletic shortcomings will make it hard for him to see extensive playing time on a veteran team, but on the other hand the Croatian team is known for taking flyers on young players and giving them some burn. It may be a year too soon for him but he’ll get his chance and that is all that he can expect.
Gkay Skordilis (6-9 PF/C 1987)
Michales Tsarelis (6-8 PF 1988)
Dimitrios Karadomalis (6-8 PF 1987)
Casspi got showcased to an extent against the Knicks in a preseason game at MSG recently. While he didn’t play terrible, he also didn’t blow anyone away. Certainly has NBA potential, showing more potential at an early age than teammates and NBA second round picks Yotam Halperin and Lior Eliyahu. Had a great season last year and now wants to tackle the highest level of competition on his youth club again. The coach likes him a lot but Maccabi is also in the running for a final four birth and his position is crowded with other players like young and rising Israeli Eliyahu and seasoned US veterans David Bluthenthal, Marcus Fizer and Terrence Morris. Playing time is only awarded to players that can help the team instantly and so Casspi has to learn on the fly if he doesnt want to be stacked on the bench. A role which hasn’t suited him in all the teams he played until now and left questions about his character. Casspi has the tools to play here, but does he have the grittiness to overcome hard times too?
Ezequiel Skverer (6-0 PG 1989)
Bora Pacun (6-10 C 1987)
Young promising PF/C who will have a hard time cracking the rotation on the revamped Efes roster that features former NBA player Woods and Turkish international Kuqo.
With coach Blatt setting an emphasis on defence, Hersek is in for a tough year. His offense can hold it’s own,due to his combination of strong body and a solid outside shot but his lack of prime athleticism makes it hard for him to guard the athletic marvels he is about to face in the league. Coach Blatt has been brought in to build a winner and he is not there to spend playing time on a player who is not yet ready.
Emre Bayav (6-11 C 1987)
Underachieving bigman, appears to be intruiging at first sight since he has some fluidity and skills but he is soft and to thin too play his position at the men’s level. A decent shotblocker but he will not be more than a third string backup.
Alfonso Sanchez (6-5 SG 1987)
The most NBA ready prospect in Europe. He could have jumped last year and been a lottery pick but decided his game could use more work. Had a weak summer as his reputation took a hit as he did not become a dominating player at the WCs with France finishing a disappointing third. He will play a much bigger role this year on his team nonetheless since his coach is sold on him. He’s a team player who needs to assume a leadership role. His skills could use some fine tuning, especially his shooting but his athletism is matched by few veterans so the sky is the limit for him. Scouts will come in bunches and he just needs to evolve from prospect to player to become a Top 5 pick come next June.
For the first time this youngster will test his skills with the big boys and it will be tough for him from start to finish. In this league he will not have his physical advantage working in his favor, he will have
to rely on his game alone which needs lots of work. He will have
a hard time staying with opponents on defense, but no one should
question his work ethic, so there is hope he catches a break somehow,
otherwise its going to be a lot of benchtime.
Jeremy Leloup (6-6 SF 1987)
Martinas Gecevicius (6-3 SG 1988)
Will get some chances because of his outstanding shooting ability but he is way so slow to guard anyone and that will limit his PT.
Ernestas Ezerskis (6-2 PG 1987)
Lukas Brazdauskas (6-8 PF 1988)
Simas Buterlevicius (6-6 SF/PF 1989)