Bosnia Herzegovina won the gold medal at the 2015 U16 European Championships held in Kaunas from August 6th to August 16th. The winning team clinched gold after a close game in the final against the home team of Lithuania. Following the 4th place finish of the U18 Bosnia team, this result confirms that the Balkan state is a surging powerhouse in European basketball.
Turkey claimed the bronze medal over Spain. Talented Germany lost in the quarterfinal round with underachieving results. Here is the list of the top talents seen in this competition:
Dzanan Musa (’99, 6-8, SG, Bosnia Herzegovina)
Musa was named MVP of the competition, leading his team to the gold medal by simply dominating opponents and showing great poise in clutch situations. As a 6-8 SG, he has a great combination of size, athleticism, and skills. While his body structure is a little odd, he’s very young and likely just needs time to fill out and become less hunched over in his back. Skill wise, he’s light years ahead of the rest of his age group at this point. He has a solid handle for the size, which allows him to act as the primary ball handler of the team, creating for himself and his teammates. He’s always active on the floor, playing with intensity on both ends of the court. He has a complete offensive repertoire, using both hands, plus he’s an intense defender and an intimidator. On top of this he’s also able to involve his teammates and is a solid rebounder as well. Next year he’ll likely find some minutes with Cedevita senior team. He closed the competition with astonishing stats: 23.3 pts 9.0 rb 6.3 ast.
Njegos Sikiras (’99, 6-9, PF, Bosnia Herzegovina)
Sikiras confirmed the great performance had during the Jordan Brand International game (where he was MVP), with a solid U16 championship. As 6-9 PF, he has everything needed from a modern big man: mobility, versatility, outside shooting and excellence in P&R. He has the ability to use both hands in the post, as he excels in dynamic situations. Furthermore he showed great touch and range, he’s a really effective weapon in pick and pop when served outside the three point line. He’s not a good leaper but definitely a solid athlete, with all the skills to compete at elite European level and likely in the NBA. He finished the competition with 14.2 pts and 6.9 rb.
Onuralp Bitim (’99, 6-4, SG, Turkey)
A tremendous slasher with a great offensive repertoire. Bitim has good size for the position, with great athleticism and average speed. He excels in the transition game, showing the ability to attack the rim with a great variety of options. Furthermore, he excels in the use of fakes, Eurosteps, change of speed, and has amazing body control. He could work on his midrange game and on his outside shot, though already at a good level. He closed out the competition with 22.4 pts and 5.9 rb.
Lang McCarthy (’99, 6-5, PG, Spain)
First off McCarthy is a standout athlete, as a 6-5 SG he has perfect size for a future SG and likely will continue to grow. He combines solid athletic skills with speed and smoothness running the floor. Compared to Gonzalez he’s still rather raw concerning game comprehension, but he has shown great instincts and a high ceiling. It will be interesting to monitor his growth with Real Madrid youth teams. He averaged 9.6 pts and 2.8 as during the competition.
Miguel Gonzalez (’99, 6-6, PG, Spain)
Gonzalez along with McCarthy shared the playmaking of Spanish team, forming a perfect match with the athletic teammate. As a 6-6 PG, Gonzalez has even a better size than McCarthy, with a huge wingspan. He excels in half court game, showing great decision making and poise with the ability to use his size on both sides of the court. He lacks the standout skills of his teammate, but he’s definitely a solid athlete, with the ability to finish above the rim. Next year he’ll play for the small team of Valladolid, despite being followed by all the Spanish powerhouses. He averaged 15.6 pt,s 5.6 rb and 3.3 as.
Isaac Bonga (’99, 6-8, PG, Germany)
Along with Musa, Bitim and McCarthy he’s definitely the prospect with the biggest potential and most likely the one with the highest ceiling. Standing 6-8, he has amazing size for the role, combined with huge hands and wingspan. He has solid ball handling skills and is a standout athlete making him really effective in the transition game, where he shows the ability to attack the basket with tremendous effectiveness thanks to his height and quickness. On the other hand, he tends to struggle in the half court game, since his decision making is quite raw. But his hands are soft and the mechanics are promisingly fluid. He closed the competition with 8.5 pts 6.4 rb and 2.1 as.
Philipp Herkenhoff (’99, 6-9, PF Germany)
Herkenhoff showed some intriguing potential with his smoothness and mobility combined with the size and the ability to hit from beyond the three point line. He’s still skinny and has to bulk up especially in the upper body, but he’s skilled in the post game and shows a willingness to fight around the rim. This versatility and the ability to play inside-out makes him an intriguing prospect. He closed the competition with 10.1 pts and 7.1 rb.
Arnas Velicka (’99, 6-3, PG, Lithuania)
Velicka was the hero of the semifinal game against Turkey, and the first offensive option of his team in the competition. Standing 6-foot-3 he has perfect size for the role, with a solid upper body and quickness. He’s tremendously effective in P&R situations, thanks to his change of speed and ability to attack the rim. He’s not an elite shooter, but in spot situations he has range and effectiveness also from three point. He’s not a pass first point guard, but he’s a solid passer and game distributor using his ability to concentrate the defense on him. He closed with 10.8 pts and 4.4 as.
Ahmet Duran (’99, 6-7, C, Turkey)
Can Duran doesn’t have the look of a typical future prospect, his baby fat percentage is high and he is not extremely athletic. But his basketball IQ is high, especially considering his age. He has silky hands and an amazing sense of position, which allows him to always be in the proper spot for the rebound. It’s evident that he’s still in the development stages, and if he can grow a couple more inches and works on his conditioning, he has solid chance to become one of the best bigs of his generation. His performances during this U16 competition confirmed this concept, acting as a second offensive option and working hard as a rebounder. He closed with 12 pts and 12.1 rb.
Jaylen Hoard (’99, 6-8, SF, France)
Hoard was definitely the best prospect of a rather disappointing French team (compared to past age groups). As a 6-8 SF he has great athleticism and solid shooting skills, especially in spot situations. Defensively he’s able to use his wingspan and mobility, being a solid intimidator. He’s still raw in creating off the dribble, but he showed the potential to become a reliable swingman in the future. Furthermore, he showed solid passing skills. He closed the competition with 7.7 pts and 4 rb.
Guglielmo Caruso (’99, 6-7, PF, Italy)
Caruso is a mobile and crafty big man, still in the development stage. It’s likely that he will grow a couple of inches in the following years. What impresses the most about him is his sense of position and his ability to receive the ball in the proper spot and moment in the paint. He has the ability to conclude with both hands with a hook shot, in addition he has tremendous instincts as an offensive rebounder. Defensively he’s quite effective in protecting the rim with his wingspan and sense of position. He definitely has to work on his range to better fit his skills to the evolution of the game. He closed with10 pts and 7.9 rb.
Darko Bajo (’99, 6-8, PF/SF, Croatia)
Bajo was quite consistent during the tournament, as the first offensive option and a solid rebounder as well. Standing 6-foot-8, he’s in a transition phase from PF to SF, the role he’ll play at the senior level, with promising evidences of success. What impresses the most about him is his ability to play as a primary ball handler and offensive facilitator. In addition he has remarkable ability to attack from the dribble compared to his height. In order to complete his evolution he needs to work on his shot and on his off the court game. He finished the competition with 18.9 pts and 8.0 rb.
Marko Pecarski (’00, 6-8, C, Serbia)
Despite being the youngest player of Serbian National team, Marko Pecarski was the most effective on the court. Son of the former professional player Mirosalv, Pecarski became known during the 2014 Euro League Junior Tournament in Belgrade, playing with Zemun team. He’s just 15 years old still in the development age with a high likelihood to reach a heigh of at least 6-11 his father is 6-11). He has shown solid post moves, with the ability to use pivot feet and fakes like an experienced big man, furthermore he also showed range from three points. Next year he’ll play with Mega Vizura. He closed out the competition with 12.0 pts and 8.9 rb
Sani Campara (’99, 6-2, PG, Bosnia Herzegovina)
Was the third pillar of the winning Bosnian team, closing with 15.7 pts and 3.8 as. He’s not a pass first guard but he has great instincts as a scorer and solid passing skills as well.
Sergi Martinez (’99, 6-7, SF, Spain)
Had the best statistical performances for the Spanish team (21.3 pts and 11 rb) showing amazing scoring instincts and a great variety of offensive moves and options. He’s not extremely explosive, but he has the ability to use his body to draw contacts. He has to improve his shot consistency and selection.
Elias Valtonen (’99, 6-6, SF, Finland)
Was the key player of a surprising Finnish team, which finished in the top 8. He had 19.1 pts 6.2 rb on average, showing the ability to create from off the dribble in multiple ways and being really effective especially in primary and secondary transition.