Usman Garuba (02′, 6-8, F/C, Real Madrid)
Garuba had a solid season. Then, the EuroLeague’s playoffs happened and he exploded, dominating in a number of games, like he did against Anadolu Efes, the team that went on to win it all. And, just like that, everyone remembered how special a player he is and what he can bring to the table.
Garuba is a freak of nature. Very athletic, can be used in either front court position and can guard every position on the floor. From Post Up bigs, to Stretch bigs and from mobile bigs to athletic guards in switches, there isn’t a task that Garuba doesn’t check the box off defensively. His athleticism and rock solid motor assures that anyone who crosses paths with him playing defense will have a long day. On the other end of the floor, Garuba is an excellent screener in Pick and Roll situations, rolling hard to the basket at all times.
It’s more than certain that the Spanish big – who probably has been the most scouted teen in Europe since Luka Doncic – is not a finished product. On Offense he is more of a Pick and Roller and Spot Up shooter, with the latter needing a lot of work. His skillset is that of a center, but he is not big enough used full time as a center in the NBA. But he is a fighter, an elite defender, he is still improving and at times has dominated in EuroLeague. And those traits are that make him so appealing
Alperen Sengun (02′, 6-9, C/PF, Besiktas)
This was THE season for Alperen Sengun. An afterthought before season began, the Turkish center built his case, game by game. Starter as a non drafted player, to late second rounder, then early second rounder. And now it’s very possible that he could be a first rounder after finishing the season as the MVP of the really strong Turkish League with averages of almost 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and still a teanager.
At first glance, Sengun looks like a big from an other era. Kind of undersized, not overly athletic, who likes to bang bodies. But he proved he is more than that. He is a really productive Big. Great in Post Ups, even better as a screener in Pick and Roll situations and with high basketball I.Q. and an expanding shooting range with a respected 81% on free throws as a sign of things to come. He sure has problems covering the Pick and Roll (better when used in Flat or drop coverage), but the pros are more than the cons at this stage. Especially considering that he won’t be 19 years old until late July.
Josh Giddey (02′, 6-8. PG, Adelaide 36ers)
Giddey started slow, but as the season progressed he looked better and better, appearing more comfortable game by game, before exploding at the finale. These sentences summarise the season for the Australian prospect, who knew that everyone was watching him from the start and had to show something in the NBL.
Giddey is a rarity. A high I.Q 6-8 point guard who looks like a walking triple-double. He is a Pick and Roll maestro, his court vision is uncanny and has shown some potential as a Spot Up shooter. The limitations in his game are more than obvious, since he is an average athlete for NBA level, he is a streaky shooter, his Pull up game needs a lot of work and could have problems on the defensive end against top athletes. But he brings so much on the table and he won’t turn 19 until early October.
Filip Petrusev (00′, 6-11, C, Mega Soccerbet)
If it wasn’t for Sengun, Petrusev would be the most productive young center in Europe this season. Still, the Serbian prospect had a great season with Mega Soccerbet, a team that operates more like an… NBA factory than any other team in Europe, having introduced to the world players such as Jokic, Zubac and Bitadze.
Playing for a team that excels at making a player look like a future NBAer – playing mostly to his strengths and developing his skills – Petrusev had a career season. Fairly athletic with good size and a high basketball I.Q, with ability to Post Up at a good level, play the Pick and Roll and adding the necessary 3 to his game – he’s shown some potential as a Stretch Big – Petrusev has an impressive skill set. His questionable motor though was always the biggest problem for him, from the time that he spent at Gonzaga. But if the scouts believe that he is all-in, then he could get drafted higher than anyone would could have expected a year ago.
Rokas Jokubaitis (00′, 6-4, PG, Zalgiris)
Having a solid season as a back up point guard on a good team, playing at the highest level in EuroLeague, the lefty guard gained some steam through the season. And rightfully so, since he has an interesting skill set.
Jokubaitis has nice size, length and a good level of athleticism, he is already very good in Pick and Roll situations as the ball handler, he’s a great passer, has shown some potential as a shooter and – more importantly – he is fearless. He has a little of a – young – Goran Dragic to him, although he is not that quick and athletic as the All Star guard, but still needs to work on his shot and consistency. Still, his skill set makes him intriguing.
Juhann Begarin (02′, 6-5, PG/SG, Paris)
Playing in the French 2nd Division, Begarin had the room he needed to demonstrate what he could do on the court, playing both on and off the ball this season, which helped raise his stock.
Begarin is a freakish athlete and a better athlete than a basketball player for now. A combo guard with two-way potential, who loves to run the open floor (like most teanagers of course) and he can play above the rim. He is a good passer, can play the Pick and Roll as a secondary facilitator and has shown glimpses as a shooter in Spot Up situations, while being a pesky defender on the ball. His shooting is still a work in progress though and has a long way to go as a point guard before he can be considered a floor general. But if he puts the work, he could get there.
Roko Prkacin (02′, 6-9, SF/PF, Cibona)
Another heavily scouted teen, who had a productive 2020/21 season, even in a mid-level League like ABA Liga, Prkacin has shown enough things this season to be considered as a probable late first round to early second round pick. After making a name for himself in FIBA’s youth games, Prkacin has shown steady improvement this season. Considered for years more of a power forward than a small forward because of his playing style, Prkacin made the necessary changes on his game to play more in the perimeter, knowing that this transition will improve his stock.
Prkacin is still considered a combo forward. He is a good (not great athlete) with great length (7-0 wingspan), with an NBA body. He loves to attack the basket, seeking contact, he is improving as a shooter in Spot Up situations, can Post Up and is an above average passer. He is more of a tweener in a bad way on defense though and is more of a streaky shooter for now. If he manages to improve the latter though, everything should fall into place.
Ariel Hukporti (02′, 7-1, C, Nevezis)
Hukporti has one of the most intimidating physical profiles off a teenager anyone has seen in years in Europe and had a solid, but – understandably – up and down season in a low level League in Lithuania. It was his first full season at the senior level.
The lefty center surely passes the eye test. He is big, athletic and is good as a screener in Pick and Roll situations, while also this year trying to expand his range all the way to the 3-point line (although he shot just 23% from 3-point, while also shooting just 53.6% from the free throw line), added some moves in Post Up situations and showed potential as a rim protector. Still though, the fact that he shot just 41.7% from the field (45.7% on 2s) as a 7-1 center in a low level league and is still so raw is discouraging. But bigs need time to mature and Hukporti is just 19 years old with just one full season at the senior level under his belt.
Vrenz Bleijenbergh (00′, 6-10, F, Antwerp)
Whenever you see a 6-10 wing who can shoot 3’s and put the ball on the floor you know that you have to keep tabs on them. Blejenbergh checks – to some degree – all these boxes and has gained momentum at the end of the season, having consistent playing time at the senior level for the first time in his career.
The wing form Belgium doesn’t exactly jump off the screen and the fact that he played in a mid-level league doesn’t work on his favor. But he is intriguing. He is a 6-10 wing who is already a good shooter in Spot Up situations and has shown potential as a ball handler in Pick and Roll situations. He lacks consistency and isn’t as athletic as other prospects, but a player with his skill set is rare and fits the modern era NBA, so he could very well hear his name called in the second round this season.
Gabriele Procida (02′, 6-5, SG, Cantu)
His numbers don’t jump off the page (6.4 pts with 38.8% on 3;s in 16 mins), but Gabriele Procida has shown enough to scouts to put him in their lists. Procida is a 3 – and – D wing. Long, athletic, he is more of a Spot Up – Catch and Drive player for now, who gives everything he has on defense. He still needs work with the ball in his hands and needs to bulk up, but has a lot of interesting tools.
Gui Santos (02′, 6-6, G/F, Minas)
Gui Santos was supposed to declare one year from now, but he felt comfortable enough to declare for this year’s NBA Draft after a solid season in Brazil with Minas.
Santos ia an all around wing with great size (has a 7 feet wingspan) with two-way potential. He is a good athlete, who gives always 100% on the floor, who loves to attack the basket and run on the open floor and has shown some potential as a Spot Up shooter, while at the same time is a versatile defender who can guard all perimeter positions. His shooting still needs work though and must learn to work in to the system, but he is still a guy to keep an eye on.
Yoan Makoundou (00′, 6-9, F/C, Cholet)
A late bloomer, Yoan Makoundou had a solid season in the French First League (his first with consistent playing time at this level), turning some heads his direction with his motor and fearless approach for the game.
Makoundou is a bouncy forward/center with great length, who likes to dunk everything. He moves well without the ball, has potential in Pick and Roll situations as a screener, is a versatile defender, who can guard either frontcourt position and a good shot blocker. He is still really raw offensively though, his post up game needs a lot of polishing and his shooting range is limited, while he can also look out of place on defense and rely too much on his instincts on both ends of the floor. But there is a lot to like with him.
Mert Akay (00′, 6-6, PG, Dynamic BG Beograd)
Mert Akay had an amazing season , averaging almost 15 points and 10 assists. The level of Serbian League isn’t that high, but still these are not numbers that someone can pass up that easily from a 21 year old point guard.
The Turskish prospect is a true floor general with great size and body. He is very good in Pick and Roll situations, a great passer and a decisive driver, who can also Post up smaller defenders thanks to his size. He is an average shooter though, an average defender and hasn’t been tested against elite competition, which can concern the scouts.
Ousmane Diop (00′, 6-9, C, Torino)
Ousmane Diop had a realy productive season in 2nd Division in Italy, forcing his way in NBA draft discussions. Considering his style of play that has a lot of power and little finesse, that makes sense.
Diop is a beast, having an NBA body. He is really physical, plays the Pick and Roll at a high level, setting good screens and rolling to the basket and has a basic Post Up game, while he is really physical on defense. What really made him intriguing though is that he shot 38.7% from the 3-point line the season (European 3-point line, but still), with almost 2 shots per game, while shooting 74% from the free throw line after shooting in low 80’s from the free throw line the last 2 years.
It is more than obvious that Diop is still a work in progress. He still lacks finesse, needs to work on his offensive game, he is not a great athlete and can be overaggressive on defense, which leads to fouls. But he has some interesting tools.
Carlos Alocen (00′, 6-5, PG, Real Madrid)
Playing for the first time in EuroLeague with Real Madrid, Carlos Alocen had some good and some bad moments, which is understandable, since he had a lot of veterans in front of him and it was difficult to have consistent playing time.
Alocen is a classic Spanish guard, with great size. Crafty, quick, has high basketball I.Q, he has a pass-first approach to the game, excels on the open floor and can play the Pick and Roll at a high level, while also being a consistent defender on the ball. He is an inconsistent shooter though from the 3-point line and needs to work on his pull-up game to open the game more for him.
Amar Sylla (01′, 6-9, F, Oostende)
Stagnant. That’s probably the word best suited to describe Amar Sylla, who had an underwhelming second season in Belgium taking a few steps back in his development, making his decision two years ago to leave Real Madrid for Oostende look really bad, since the team from Belgium didn’t use him in ways to make him feel comfortable.
After an inconsistent 2019/20 season, Sylla was supposed to step up his game this season. But this never happened. The forward from Senegal had a lot of ups and downs, although he closed the season in a solid way. Sylla looked uncomfortable playing as a Stretch-4 on offense, since he was mostly used in ways that didn’t fit his strengths and skill set, but the truth is that he looked really good on the defensive end of the floor, at least when he had to defend on ball situations.
Sylla is still intriguing. A lefty combo forward (who looks more and more like a power forward) with two-way potential. A long, athletic big, who can be used in Pick and Roll situations and some Pick and Pop situations (shooting from mid-range), who is moving great without the ball with sneaky cuts and at the same time can bring chaos on the defensive end thanks to his athleticism. But he is still raw, his shooting range is limited despite the promise he showed a few years ago and can lose focus on defense.
Nikita Mikhailovsky (00′, 6-7, SF, Avtodor)
The Russian prospect has been on the NBA radar the last 3 years since he gained consistent playing time when he was still 18 years old. After an underwhelming last season, he showed some improvement this season, taking a step forward in his level of consistency.
Shooting remains the calling card of Mikhailovsky, who has shown in the past the potential as 3-level scorer in FIBA’s youth tournaments. A wing with great size and above average athletic ability, his shooting opens up a lot for him, being his most translatable skill. His motor is still what worries scouts the most and some defensive lapses, but his shooting will always intrigue.
Tom Digbeu (01′, 6-5, G, Prienai)
After a two year span of ups and downs, Tom Digbeu looked at the beginning of the season like he had finally figured things out. With the season coming to an end, it’s obvious now that this didn’t happen.
Digbeu had an inconsistent season. He could look like the best player on the floor one moment, and he then disappear the next.