Last weekend we attended #ABAFutureStars in Slavonski Brod on Croatian and Bosnian border which was 2nd edition of U19 ABA Liga Final Four. The crown went to Zagreb as Cibona beat Crvena Zvezda. Dalibor Ilic and Roko Prkacin were undoubtedly two the best prospects from the tournament and our main focus during the event. Here’s our evaluation on both of them:
DALIBOR ILIC joined Mega Bemax on loan few weeks ago but committed to finish U19 season with his former team. He played different role than he is projected to but given low level and huge usage it was a good setting to see if he shows enough promise of making transition to playing SF spot in future.
He is basically inside outside 4 man with elite physical profile, elite rebounding ability who thrives through contact. Ilic has the best body you can find. He stands at 6’9, possess very good wingspan, big palms and wide frame. He is long and well proportioned overall but what intrigues the most may be his strength. His muscles are simply tuned to their optimal characteristic for basketball player. He is lean, has room to grow even more while being already as strong as a regular bulked up guy who doesn’t leave the weight room at all.
Igokea’s product feels the most natural close to the basket or mid post area. He is great in early offense deep sealing (if any of his teammates was capable of throwing entry or lob passes he could probably score 10 points per game more here). His post moves or footwork are nothing special but he can go reverse and has a reach to finish from difficult angle. Moreover generates force which pushes defenders away & allow him to collect his own misses. Also his step is quick and long enough to turn it face up and go around or drive through with his body.
Another big asset is rebounding ability. Ilic has a nose for the ball, quick jump off on foot and his length helps to snatch the ball. He can initiate the offense after that but is far from being coast to coast threat. Speaking of that let’s try to explore how big of a missmatch guy he is outside of the paint.
Dalibor’s ball handling is unfortunately very mechanical. It’s loose, he avoids left hand and simple telegraphed in & out is the only move he presented. He is also still not there as a passer (shows some glimpses but imprecise in general). His catch and go is not coordinated yet as he often starts with travelling. He is not a quick decision maker after catch but never hesitates to make a big tomahawk jam if lane is opened. Also will punish defenses at times by straight line drive but mostly thanks to ability to withstand the contact.
However biggest problem at the moment may be his shot. It is extremely slow and don’t let small ABA Liga sample (9/20 3pt) confuse you. He needs HUGE work in this regard and maybe even partial reconstruction of the mechanics.
Defensively it was very easy for him on that level. He contains everything with his body and is just extremely rangy to recover with minimum effort. From what it looks like he is maybe more suited for switching onto small ball 5s than athletic slashers or quick guards. While Ilic moves up & down well and fluidly he is not that exceptionally light on his fit or quick laterally. Anyway he is intriguing on that end given how he maintains position, challenges a lot at the rim and makes his opponent need a lot of space to get the shot off.
Seems like Ilic didn’t make a big jump past two years in Igokea. Mega can work well for him and it would probably be good option for his further development to stay there for next season as well. He needs a shooting coach and increasing on ball skills to be much more intriguing option for NBA executives. For now there is not enough flashes but if he improves and produces in ABA Liga then may be drafted in 2nd round as you can’t find many guys with his profile and decent athleticism who knows how to use the tools.
ROKO PRKACIN is a true prodigy. He is son of former Euroleague player and displays same big energy ball like his dad. However he is way more multi faceted weapon.
Roko is arguably once in a generation level of talent and basically possess legitimate wing skillset. He handles the ball very well for 6’9 guy (maybe left hand could still be better) and even has some wiggle. Shaking defender out of the balance 7 meters away from the hoop is definitely not something you expect or can see often from 206cm tall player. He is either coast to coast and drive and kick threat. Moreover rebounding, post game and sharing the ball from that area are possibly another (at least close to) elite assets of 16 year old hoop phenom from Croatia.
At the same time Roko posses decent physical tools in upper & lower body, above average length & athleticism plus high motor as he is almost hyperactive in his seeking to get the ball and make plays.
You can’t notice any kind of star behaviour, he looks like he enjoys the game and is fully aware of how damn good he is in basketball. Also as far as skillset is concerned it is hard to find any flaws in his overall well roundedness besides one crucial thing which is shooting. He made just 14 from 96 threes combined in last two ABA Liga U19 seasons, Croatian 2nd tier + FIBA U16s & U17s. He breaks the motion a little bit just before the follow through but seems developable in this regard despite horrible numbers. His touch on runners which he likes to use when defenders move back on purpose could be better as well.
It seems like improving his stroke can fully unlock Prkacin’s genius. If he hits open 3 consistently, gets better stop & pop or stop on a dime on perimeter then can really become complete player.
Defensively he shows good instincts as well. Has quick hands and excellent anticipation & fundamentals. While he is not projected to intrigue scouts by his potential on this end he simply doesn’t allow any player to outplay him thanks to know how, positioning, ok size & physicality or substantial degree of competitiveness.
Young Prkacin shows tremedous maturity and keeps achieving next steps smoothly in his career and already sees playing time in domestic top tier which can open ABA Liga doors as soon as next season. In some ways he may be better in some worse than young Dario Saric (not exact playing style or tools but probably won’t avoid comparisons given incredible talent, same nationality, position on the court and being raised in Cibona which Timberwolves PF joined after he turned 18). He is on pace to follow his footsteps and become someone who can see regular minutes in Euroleague as a teenager. However in today’s basketball he simply must make more shots in order to be REALLY high draft pick next years.
Honorable mention: Rok Radovic – Interesting sleeper who seems to doesn’t have enough attention. Possess team mentality and multi dimensional game which reminds some of Nikola Kalinic vibe.