First qualifier of AdidasNGT is in the books. Outstanding facility, unexpected winner but rather disappointing level of competition. Full three days on such tournament is definitely waste of time for NBA scouts and you can count legitimate prospects for their standards on the fingers of one hand. Anyway below I am presenting my take on those who may stand a Draft chance in few years perspective:
ARIEL HUKPORTI (Center, 6’11, 2002, Germany, Ludwigsburg)
Hukporti finally played up to his potential and possibly it was the best scouting aspect of the tournament. I slowly started to lose hope that incredibly gifted center can put his tools and attitude together. He used to frustrate with lack of engagement and bad habits but here clearly dominated and enjoyed every second of those statement performances. Ariel’s energy and power was just unmatched for any other participating center. At times he wanted even too much which led to gambling or taking too much offensive burden on his bulky shoulders but this kind of motor / hunger + impact which comes with it outweights minor mistakes any given day for 6’11 monster. He may not progress physically as much as others but hey – that is how high level athletes look like at the end of maturation. While his lower body is thinner and maybe a bit too narrow, upper base and length catch up to the highest standards. Ariel presented good post game as he was able to get good angles off the glass, mastered up and under move combined with reverse finishes. Also passing from that area may not be perfect yet but looked translatable. He hit few mid range Js (also still too raw to make it happen on regular basis) and started several fast breaks with more reliable handle or passing on the move than before. Hukporti’s profile may be amazing now but for NBA level it is not that freakish. In order to get there is plenty of work on consistency, IQ and skillset but he seems like he finally realized that things will get more & more difficult next years and that he must take his game to whole another level to be among pros equally big force as he is on youth level. To sum up, I am not sure if best version of Ariel is agent or new coach effect but we can just hope he continues like that. If he does, then future is extremely bright.
VINICIUS DA SILVA (Center, 7’0, 2001, Brazil, Joventut Badalona)
Brazilian center improved basically every major aspect of basketball craft, starting from strength, through touch, all the way to the tactical knowledge. Standing at 7 feet with 7’2 wingspan and rather light feet, Vinicius shows promising mobility especially in hedging on defensive end. Offensively he is still raw and mostly tries to maximize his presence by taking rim protector, rebounder & finisher role on the court. However best thing about Da Silva may be his attitude. He looks extremely determined, plays with blue collar mentality and is very valuable teammate. Always focused, committed to work, very coachable and without much ego. He is still lanky, can’t really produce his own offense or shot but has rather good hands and seems teachable overall. Badalona’s center still has ways to go but with his motivation and development pace he is not out of chances to even become one day the next Brazilian big in the NBA. Even if it doesn’t happen he can clearly find himself a niche on high ACB level for years. But it all starts from maintaining his grinder approach, filling out the frame and being given solid minutes for Prat in Leb Gold since next season the latest.
TOM DIGBEU (Guard, 6’5, 2001, France/Spain, Barcelona)
It was the worst performance from Barcelona U18 team most of the scouts could remember. Tom was having a lot of responsibility as far as creating the offense for himself and others. He was trying hard and I think he presented much better & mature attitude than previous years. However despite doing the best to impact winning on both ends (he really did cover a lot of ground on D and was very engaged), he could not carry Barca to medal zone which is somewhat disappointing regarding underwhelming overall level of competition. Tom is extremely exciting backcourt prospect who great slashing game given his first step, considerable shiftiness on the fly and huge bounce either off one or two feet, standing & max. He still gets very streaky shooting wise and form is rather slow but on this level at least he doesn’t have a trouble while creating separation with short clock thanks to rangy step back. Despite that go to move his handles are rather loose and must be tighten moving forward. He showed a lot of promise of becoming secondary ball handler by facilitating really well in drive & kick situations. However some decisions are still too slow which is predictable for defenses and leads to too easy turnovers. Also operating in pick and roll is not sound yet. Anyway as an high flying, open court killer with solid length and projectable well proportioned frame which will surely bear additional bulk he remains Top 3 NBA prospects from the tournament in my eyes. Improvements mentioned above as far as polishing offensive contribution and becoming at least adequate spot up shooter are must do to think about SG career in future on the highest level possible. As of now Digbeu often dominates weak opponents and fails in important tests. His surname definitely helps to get a lot of buzz but at the end only his progress and proving himself vs strong competition next seasons can make the dream work.
KYMANY HOINSOU (Guard, 6’4, 2004, France, Asvel)
The youngest participant of the tournament had a lot of playing time and promising moments in Valencia. Kymany is super talented guard who reminds a bit more athletic version of Joel Ayayi. He stands around 6’4 and may have 1 or 2 inches left, displays very good length and bounce. His attitude was fearless and few times he impressed with wilingness to play through contact, confidence to attack the basket and defensive capability. He didn’t convert any from 4 threes but shots rather easy ball which gives hope he can be good from behind the arc. Bigger improvement he needs may be left hand and pace shifting but it’s too early to state if he can become a legitimate PG down the road or just slasher / scorer. Hoinsou still has a room to develop physically but turns 15 in few days and strength wise is on the level of at least 2003 born kids. Anyway he is clearly really big project and possibly can become in mid term future next big thing from ASVEL after Theo Maledon. From now on will definitely be followed closely by all European based international scouts.
Gael Bonilla (Barcelona)
Matthew Marsh (Barca), Pau Tendero (Barca), Gora Camara (Virtus), Zsombor Maronka (Badalona), Adria Domenech (Badalona), Hector Alderete (Estudiantes), Gilad Levy (Estudiantes), Kristian Kocab (USK), David Bohm (USK), Kriss Helmanis (Badalona), Gabriele Procida (Virtus)