Who’s Hot

Ousmane Dieng (2003, 6-10, G/F, New Zealand Breakers)

After an extremely slow start to the season, Ousmane Dieng managed to turn things around eventually, finishing the season strong, which reminded everyone that what a unique prospect he is.

The ultimate boom or bust pick. After a late growth spurt, he is now standing at 6-10, which – combined with his skillset – makes him really intriguing. Dieng has the potential to become a playmaking wing, although it has to be noted that he had a negative assist/turnover ratio this season, as he focused more on scoring over the last couple games. With that said, he did look more confident with the ball in his hands and even scored on some pull ups – which can be a game changer for him in the future – while he attacked the basket more. Dieng has all the necessary tools to become a really interesting player. He just has to continue improving.

Nikola Jovic (2003, 6-11, F, Mega Soccerbet)

Nikola Jovic continues to have a solid season as a teenager in a good level league. The potential of him becoming a 3-level scorer at some point in his career has always been intriguing. He is not there yet, as he lacks a consistent pull up shot. One thing’s for certain though, he has flourished as a secondary creator, averaging 4 assists per game the last two months.

Jovic is a new era all around combo forward with great size and above average athleticism. He can knock down 3-pointers (although he is a streaky shooter for now), he can punish miss-matches in the post, attack the basket in catch and drive situations and create for his teammates. His perimeter defense remains a question mark, but there is a lot to like about this guy.

Ismael Kamagate (2001, 6-11, C, Paris Basketball)

The French prospect continues having a great season. He had some ups and downs, but generally has managed to demonstrate his skillset this season, with his stock being on the rise.

Kamagate is an athletic center with good size. He is a rim runner, a solid (not great) rebounder and a rim protector. What’s more important though is that he plays within his role. He is not trying to be something he is not, which shows that he has the maturity to focus on what a team needs from him, which is rare for a young player.

Hugo Besson (2001, 6-5, G, New Zealand Breakers)

Hugo Besson had a solid showing at the Draft combine, which didn’t really change the way the scouts see him. It was definitely good for his stock that his shooting numbers were up, although he mostly had a decent showing in the games he participated in. Still, even though he demonstrated – to some degree – some of his skills, after a solid season in NBL with New Zealand Breakers.

Besson is a microwave type scorer. He prefers to have the ball in his hands, but has shown potential as a spot up shooter, which is the key for him to have a lengthy career. He is a little undersized for a shooting guard, but not a good enough facilitator to be considered a point guard, while he has his athletic limitations. Still, his ability to put the ball in the basket was always his calling guard, so he is lucky to be playing in an era where this is something that teams are seeking.

Matteo Spagnolo (2003, 6-4, G, Vanoli Cremona)

Spagnolo needed all the playing time he could get and Real Madrid respected that by giving him on loan to Cremona. It’s pretty clear that this was a good decision for all parties. The Italian prospect is having a good season with Vanoli Cremona in the competitive Italian League, showcasing his skillset in a variety of ways.

Spagnolo is a scoring lead guard with great size. His ability to score off the dribble remains his calling card, while he can also play away off the ball. With that said, his lack of an elite first step and athleticism hurts him when he tries to attack the basket, while he also still has a ways to go as a facilitator. With all that said, Spagnolo is still a player to keep an eye on.

Ziga Samar (2001, 6-6, G, Fuenlabrada)

It’s difficult to ignore a 6-6 point guard who plays in arguably the 3rd best league in the world after the NBA and EuroLeague. When you consider this point guard has a 2.7-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and is shooting 47.1% from the 3-point line (even in less than 2 attempts per game) it is even more difficult. That is the kind of point guard that Samar has proven to be this season and despite the fact that there is so little hype around him, people have taken notice of him.

Samar is a point guard with great size. He is not really athletic, but he has a high basketball I.Q and can play the PnR at a good level with his strong passing instincts and court vision. What will make all the difference in his case though is his shooting. No one was expecting him to shoot in the high 40% from the 3-point line, especially considering that his shooting used to be an issue. But if his shooting isn’t a fluke, than he could be a really interesting prospect.

Karlo Matkovic (2001, 6-10, C, Mega Soccerbet)

The Croatian prospect looks more and more like the next player of Mega Soccerbet who will hear his name called on draft day, following the footsteps of players such as Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Goga Bitadge, Marko Simonovic, Filip Petrusev and Vlatko Cancar.

Matkovic never really had the hype surrounding him like his precendators in Mega. But he is an interesting prospect nonetheless. An athletic center with soft touch around the basket, who plays the PnR at a high level, likes to dunk everything, shoots 70% from the Free throw line, showing Stretch-Big potential and protects the rim. Matkovic is still kind of rough around the edges. His game needs polishing. But he has shown enough promise to be considered a second rounder.

Stock Neutral

Gui Santos (2002, 6-6, G/F, Minas)

The Brazilian prospect has been on the NBA radar since last season. This season has actually been better, taking advantage of his increased role, although it came with a price, since his 3-point percentage took a small hit.

Gui Santos is an all-around wing with good size and length. His fearless approach on both ends of the floor intrigues, since that helps him have positive moments on both ends of the floor. He has some 3-and-D potential in him, while he has shown promise as a secondary playmaker and averages almost a steal and a block this season. Inconsistent shooting is still the biggest hurdle for Santos, who has to convince scouts that he can become at least a threat from the 3-point line to expand his game.

Khalifa Diop (2002, 6-11, C, Gran Canaria)

Khalifa Diop has taken a step forward this season with Gran Canaria. He didn’t really made any big leaps in his development, but at least he showed some promise in specific areas, playing within his role. It remains to be seen if this will be enough for him to get drafted.

Diop is a good, mobile athlete with an elite body and above average I.Q. He can play the PnR at a good level and has a basic Post Up game, while he is a good PnR defender when asked to drop or hedge. His surprising low number of blocks surely stand out, but he is an OK rim protector. He is still kind of raw on the offensive end though, doing only the basics, while his lateral quickness must improve so that he can become a more dependable defender.

Yoan Makoundou (2000, 6-9, F/C, Cholet)

The French prospect decided to withdraw his name at the last moment last season, hoping to create more buzz this season with a bigger role. Truth be told, he showed improvement in some areas, especially with his shooting, which was non-existent until last season, which could potentially help him get drafted late in the second round.

Makoundou is an athletic forward/center, who sets good screens and rolls hard to the basket, who is also a good rim protector. The twist he added to his game by expanding his shooting range all the way to the 3-point line (even in a small sample) can make the difference in his case, although he is still kind of raw on the offensive end of the floor and can lose focus on the defensive end. With that said, he might intrigue a team as a Draft and Stash prospect.

Gabriele Procida (2002, 6-7, G/F, Fortitudo Bologna)

Having measured almost 6-6 without shoes at the Draft combine wasn’t a good thing for Procida’s stock, but his 6-8 wingspan made up for it /> The Italian prospect had a solid season in the competitive Italian League, although it has to be noted that his team was relegated. Still. Procida had his moments, showcasing all the things that help him stand out as a potential 3-and-D player.

Procida is an above average athlete with a blue collar mentality. He has shown potential as a Spot Up – Catch and Drive type of offensive player with defensive versatility. It remains to be seen whether these attributes will be enough for him to get drafted in the second round.

Who’s Cold

[Player: Yannick Nzosa (2003, 7-0, C, Unicaja)

To say that Yannick Nzosa has underperformed this season would be an understatement. It’s true that there was way more hype around him before the season than there should have been. But the truth is that he under-performed even by the lower standards that were set after his rough start to the season, struggling to adjust to playing at a higher level.

Nzosa is long, athletic and raw. Those words describe him best, with everyone wanting to see him become a rim runner and a rim protector. It was never about the present with Nzosa. But the truth is that he looked even more raw than people thought he would. Potential is still there for the center from the Congo. He is reportedly still just 19 years old. Bigs mature at a slower pace. But eventually he will have to show something more.

Ibou Diako Badji (2002, 7-1, C, Lleida)

It’s safe to say that Ibou Diako Badji has lost some fans this season with his showing in Spain’s 2nd Division. A center with his profile and physical gifts should be able to dominate at this level, but that never happened, with his stock being as low as it has ever been.

Badji is a freak of nature. A center with amazing size, length (7-8 wingspan) and ridiculous athleticism. He is a point guard’s dream in Pick and Roll situations and a good shot blocker. But he is still raw, his feel for the game is average and hasn’t put things together on any end of the floor. Badji still has some fans on NBA teams and his physical profile is as good as anyone’s. As it has been proved in the past, you only need one team to like you and believe in your potential.

Carlos Alocen (2000, 6-5, G, Real Madrid)

A disappointing season ended prematurely for the Spaniard guard because of a serious knee injury (torn ACL). The last couple of years have been rough for a player that once was considered one of the best international point guards of his generation, since he wasn’t really able to attain a consistent role on a loaded Real Madrid team.

Alocen – who is auto eligible – was always intriguing as a true point guard with great size, with the ability to make his teammates better on offense and cause problems for his opponents with his defense. His shooting and inconsistency were always his flaws and he didn’t really enhance his stock over the last couple years. You can never be totally sure when you try to judge an international player before the draft, since teams have reports and notes on them since they were 15-16 years old. As things stand now, it would be a real surprise if Alocen hears his name called this draft season. But Alocen was a player we were high on in past years and perhaps a team out there takes a chance he can recapture that magic in the future.

Matthew Strazel (2002, 6-0, G, ASVEL)

After an underwhelming season for a loaded ASVEL team, Matthew Strazel surprised many by declaring for this year’s draft. It remains to be seen whether he will keep his name in, but he is still an interesting prospect, with good showings in FIBA’s junior level games.

Strazel is an undersized, but very quick point guard, with a good level of athleticism and a sturdy body. He is a good (not great) driver and a solid 3-point shooter, who can play the PnR at a high level as the ball handler, since he has the ability to either finish the play, pass to the rolling big or to a 3rd teammate. He is more of a streaky shooter though for now and despite his solid effort on defense and ability to press the ball handler, he is still undersized and can be a target on defense.

Kai Sotto (2002, 7-2, C, Adelaide 36ers)

There was a time when Kai Sotto was considered one of the most intriguing international prospects of his generation. A lot of things happened since then, with the forward/center from the  Philippines playing this year in the NBL, having a so-so season and just a couple of good showings. It turns out that all this wasn’t enough to discourage him since he declared for this season’s NBA Draft.

Sotto is an interesting prospect, with stretch-big potential. He is left handed but an ambidextrous finisher around the basket, who has solid footwork in the post and with a shooting range going all the way up to the 3-point. His lack of athleticism hurts him and his frame remains thin, despite the fact that he has added some muscle. What is more concerning though is that at times he looks reluctant and passive on offense, while at the same time his average lateral quickness and thin frame make him a target on defense. There are some red flags with Sotto, but at the same time it’s not that easy to find a 7-2 guy who can stretch the floor. He might be a sleeper as a late second rounder.

Luke Travers (2001, 6-9, F, Perth)

Luke Travers doesn’t have much buzz around his name. He doesn’t have a specific skill that stands out, he is below average shooter and had just an OK season in the NBL. Still, there is some intrigue around his name, which can only be understood when someone watches him play.

Travers is a player who checks a lot of boxes as a glue guy. He is an all around combo forward with a good motor. He has been used as a secondary playmaker, but mostly excels moving away from the ball, knowing how to play inside the system, while being versatile defensively. At the same time though, he is an average athlete, his shooting range is limited and has problems guarding perimeter players. Taking all these into the mix – and considering that he has one more year of eligibility – it sure looks difficult to see him getting drafted or even keeping his name in. But anything is possible.


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