The FIBA U16 B Division was played in Pitesti, Romania from August 4th-13 where Croatia beat Bulgaria 85-67. The Croatian squad will now move up to the A Division next year. While Georgia narrowly defeated host country Romania 70-68 for the bronze. While the overall talent was not as good as in the A division there were some prospects who stood out in particular Borna Katanovic of Croatia who is sure to be on every high major and NBA scout’s radar. Below are the top prospects from this event:
Katanovic (pictured) was the clear star of this event and a potential top 2007 born European prospect. A quick first take does not wow you, he does not possess elite height or length, and when he runs, it looks like he is learning how to run on stiletto shoes. But he is the most skilled player of the international class that I watched play at FIBAU16 this summer (Africa, Americas, or Europe). The Lefty averaged 18.1 points on 61% field goal percentage while going 14/31 from three (45%) and 31/42 from the free throw line. He showed the ability to create for himself at the top of the key, using change of pace crossovers and an acute ability to create angles to create contact and space so he could either get to the free throw line or finish a play off with a lay up. In addition, he showed the ability to drive and decelerate at an elite level. Playing a lot of combo forward at this event, he was able to post and spin off his opponent using a steep shoulder drop, creating momentum and leverage off the defender with relative ease and success. The southpaw demonstrated a good outside shooting ability, both on catch and shoot and self creating situations. As previously mentioned, he does not have elite speed but is always in control and showed good ability to work off double teams and find the open man which led to an above 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio for the tournament. While he prefers to go left, he showed the ability to pass and dribble effectively with both his left and right hands. He has advanced ability to make reads both on offense and defense. On defense he anticipates defensive rotations and slivers off screens well, leading to 2.5 steals per contest. He moves well in short spaces laterally even though he doesn’t get great lift in transition nor in half court. He was voted MVP for the event and led Croatia to move to the A Division next summer. It will be interesting to see him play against better competition next summer and is the most likely NBA prospect from this event.
Bakhtadze averaged 18 points on 56% field goal percentage showing a solid ability to finish around the rim with strength or with touch. One of the larger and more filled out players for this event, he had the strength to easily seal defenders to get the ball in the post. A good screener in pick and roll situations, he is mainly a threat diviong once he sets a screen. Showed some willingness to shoot threes on catch and shoot situations (8/22 from three) but overall his shot is flat and needs some work going 10/17 from the free throw line for this event. He has difficulties in triple threat situations when facing the basket on offense, making him a liability in high low situations where he is at the top of the key. He does not and should not handle the ball. On defense he averaged 10.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game showing a good frame but does not possess a long wingspan or elite athleticism. He played mainly drop coverage and prevented opponents from driving but there are some questions about how much success he will have on defense as the competition gets better. A good offensive rebounder, he can get himself too far under the basket at times and lose out on some defensive rebounds. He lacks speed and lateral quickness. Bakhtadze led Georgia to a third place finish and was voted to the tournament’s top 5.
Roko Jemo 6’4 PG 2007 Born Croatia Split
At 6’4 Jemo has an ideal size and frame for a point guard. He overpowered opposing guards at this event with his speed and strength bullying to the hole and leading to 13.8 points per game while shooting 61% from the field. He can drive and finish with either hand and physically is ready to compete with players much older than him. His comfortable range is 15 feet in and he needs to continue to expand his range as he gets older (going 9/24 from 3) He did not shoot it well from the free throw line either going 15/27. He showed the ability to create for himself and for others as he averaged 3.5 assists to just 1.9 turnovers in Pitesti. Has a pitbull mentality on defense and moves well laterally, looking to break up plays, getting deflections, and diving for loose balls, leading to his 3.1 steals per game average. Was voted in the tournament’s top 5.
Fadiga’s presence was felt all over the court and he showed some athleticism that many players at this event lacked. He averaged 14.1 points per game on 46% from the field, scoring primarily by getting downhill. He averaged 4.4 assists but 4 turnovers per game. He did not take a statistically significant
Golian was a top performer statistically finishing in the top 10 in scoring, rebounds, and blocks. He averaged 16.9 points per game, scoring most of his points in the paint. He has good size and frame for his age and showed some potential as a face up big man as he has some handles (likes to crossover between his legs) and as a future pick and pop option as he went 23/28 from the free throw line (82%). A little turnover happy, he needs to stay away from his spin move at the top of the key as it routinely was stolen from him and from jumping in traffic without having a safety outlet. He was out of basketball shape as his hands were routinely on his knees and he frequently asked to be subbed out. He averaged 7.7 rebounds per game and was generally in good position defensively to get rebounds. He was active defensively getting deflections and altering shots as he averaged 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks for the event.
Peter Rosta 6’9 PF 2007 Born Hungary Vasas Academy
Rosta, a southpaw, was best when finishing around the basket and showcasing his close range and soft touch. He averaged 14.7 points on 55% from the field at the tournament. His best ability to self create was on the wing facing the basket and getting around slower post players, usually while finishing with his left hand. He needs to work on his shooting as he went 1/14 from three and 22/36 (61%)from the free throw line. Defensively, his height and agility allowed him to be a major contributor for his team as he averaged 7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 2.1 blocks for this event.
Dinu was the hometown darling for this event. At 6’2, he lacks ideal size and athleticism but he led the event in scoring at 19.1 points per game showing a good ability to finish from inside the arc (51% from two). His best move to get downhill was his change of pace crossover dribble which he was able to display frequently as he was the main creator for the Romanian offense. He also was the main table setter for his teammates as he averaged 4.7 assists per game which was 4th most at this event. He showed the ability to make extended range and improbable three point shots (some well behind the NBA three point line) but also demonstrated questionable shot selection at times, leading to going 16/63 from three at this event. He averaged 2.4 steals, 6.1 rebounds, and almost a block per game despite not having ideal size or NBA point guard athleticism. A probable mid-major talent was voted in the tournament’s top 5.
15.9 ppg 52% FG 10/24 from three (42%) 1.4 steals
Melvin Dubuc 6’6 SF 2007 Born Romania Nanterre 92
13.1 ppg 67% from two 2 steals
Petru Voiculescu 6’6 Forward 2007 Born Romania CSU ASE Bucuresti
10.4 ppg 58% from two 1.4 steals 1.3 blocks Top dunk of tournament