The FIBA U18 Europe B Division was played in Matosinhos, Portugal from July 21- July 30th, 2023. Latvia earned the promotion to the A Division next season by beating Belgium 75-69 in the finals. While Montenegro defeated Austria 85-80 to earn the Bronze medal. While this may have been a B Division, there was some legitimate talent on hand as the two best prospects from this event are two of the top international prospects in their age group. Below are write ups of the top 5 prospects from this event and 5 Honorable Mention to keep tabs on.
Ruben Prey PF/C 6’10 Portugal 2005 Born Joventut Badalona
Prey’s analytics were tremendous at this tournament. He averaged 19.1 points per game (4th most), a tournament best 14 rebounds and led the event in double doubles while finishing 6th highest in steals (2.6) and block shots (1.4). His high motor, long wingspan, and athleticism in the open floor has put him on International NBA scout’s radar for some time now. Prey loves to run, and his trademark play is to steal the ball on the wing and sprint down court for a quick one handed dunk. While more quick than powerful, he is quite agile and has an uncanny ability to get to the rim and finish. While a willing shooter from long distance efficiency has still eluded him from that range (2/15 from three) and his shot can come off flat. He is dangerous enough from the mid range (shot 62% from two) to keep opponents honest in pick and pop situations. Tends to rush free throws leading to mix results (32/49). Has improved but still very right hand dominant. Was positive in the assist to turnover ratio while averaging 3 per contest. There are some questions whether when he fills out if he will gain some power in vertical leap or lose some quickness. Was voted top 5 for this event and is a player to monitor as a potential second round draft pick for the 2024 NBA Draft.
Mirkovic had a busy summer, first playing in European U20s where he averaged 8.9 points on 50% shooting in 19 minutes per game. He then took 5 days off to compete at this event in Portugal where he was more dominant as he was just a year younger than most opponents instead of three years younger at U20s. Mirkovic was top 10 in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounds (9 rebs) and third in double doubles with 4 in 7 games. He shot 46% from the field while taking roughly a third of his shots from behind the three point line (12/32 or 38%). Mirkovic is best as a catch and shoot option from long distance. He has good touch and feel and is ideal in a pick and pop situation. Far from a gifted athlete he creates space and shooting opportunities with his wide body and his ability to absorb contact. A headsy player he has good court vision and showed ability to have the offense run through him at this level (It must be noted that he did not have the same success in passing and outside shooting at the U20s that he did here at U18s). He is not a gifted athlete so he is more likely to lay the ball in than have a ferocious dunk and is deadlier as a trailer on a fast break offense than running the lanes. Defensively he is a good rebounder and has good vision .He takes good angles to take charges and doesn’t mind playing physical with opponents. At 6’9 he is on the shorter side for a big and does not block many shots but will compete to get deflections. There are question marks regarding his position as a pro. Is he tall enough to guard a center as he does not possess a plus wingspan? Is he athletic enough to guard forwards? His outside shooting percentages have dropped against top competition and older competition, will he adapt as he gets older or does he need that extra time to load? He is however a no doubt NCAA power 5 level player and was voted in the tournament’s top 5 after scoring 31 points in the bronze medal game.
Meeusen is one of the players who helped himself most at this tournament leading Belgium to a second place finish. Has good size at 6’4 as a combo guard showed some sneaky athleticism with some easy two handed dunks at this event. Averaging 17.9 points per game at 48% from the field demonstrated the ability to create for himself, using his quick first step to get down hill. He showed some good metrics as a shooter going 20/23 (87%) from the free throw line and 15/44 (34%) from three. On defense used his athleticism to average 5 rebounds and 2 steals per game. While he is not a likely NBA player he is a player mid majors should have on their radar. Meeusen was voted in the tournament’s top 5.
Roberts Blums CG 6’3 Latvia 2005 Born Saint Quentin
Like Meussen, Blums made the most of his opportunity and showcased himself at this event. Leading Latvia to a Division A promotion and earning himself MVP honors for the tournament. A combo guard, Blums was the second leading scorer at 20 points per game while shooting 43% from the field. Blums shot 39% from three (24/62) and 96% (24/25) from the free throw line showcasing his marksmanship ability. His lack of height puts limitations on his upside as a player and he needs to become a better table setter for his teammates on offense. On defense he showed a good ability to get in the passing lanes and get some steals 1.6 per game. He is playing on a French Saint Quentin team that has higher profile NBA prospects and will have the opportunity all season long to leave an impression on scouts.
Imran, a year younger of many of the players at this event, averaged 12.9 points per game while shooting 53% from two. He showed some intrigue getting to the lane and creating off the pick and roll reads. Will take opposing guards and small forwards in the post and has both a turn around fade and up and under move to create some offense. Has good shooting mechanics but did not shoot it well from three (7/39) or from the free throw line (17/27). Has good length and height for a shooting guard with some believing that he will end up closer to 6’7. Not a good defender yet but overall has some intrigue as a long term prospect.
21.9 ppg 33% from 3 81% FT 6.6 assists 5.0 rebounds voted tournament top 5
Andrin Njok Forward 6’6 Switzerland 2006 Born Centre National du Basketball Suisse
13 ppg 6 rebounds 36% from three 91% FT (20/22)
15 ppg 8.6 rebounds 8/20 from three 13/13 from free throw line
Omer Suljanovic SF 6’7 Austria 2005 Born Pallacanestro Reggiana
13.8 ppg 6.3 rebs 75% FT
Daniil Sypalo C 6’10 Ukraine 2005 Born
14.1 points 9.8 rebounds 2.1 steals 1.9 blocks 65% FT
Vasilije Todorovic SG/SF 6’5 Montenegro 2005 Born SC Derby
14.5 ppg 18/50 from three 80% FT 2.8 assist 1.3 turnovers
Desmond Yiamu PF/ C 6’7 Ukraine 2006 Born Bayern
16.4 ppg 65% FG 8.1 rebounds 1.1 steals