Countdown to 2017/2018 NCAA start is about to be over. As we are approaching the college season, our team decided to take a look at the most memorable European freshmen entering the league.
OSCAR DA SILVA (Germany, Stanford)
It ain’t easy to find a genius who can play basketball on high level or great prospect who is also standout in the classroom. In Oscar da Silva case it’s hard to say if he is better player than student even though he is serious NBA candidate. Well-spoken (by the way in multiple languages) German Forward increased his stock incredibly over the years. After previously playing complementary role in loaded youth teams of his country he surpassed in the rankings almost all the teammates. He is kind of glue guy with surprisingly big offensive impact. Can be rarely tough while still playing fair. Beside intangibles, Oscar brings to the table amazing level of versitality. He is very athletic, can score from various spots & situations and check all position on defensive end including go-to players from opposite teams. His career at Stanford probably won’t be very long.
OLIVIER SARR (France, Wake Forest)
Cal seemed to be a frontrunner to land French NBA prospect but after departure of the coach Cuonzo Martin to Missouri, Olivier eventually committed and sent National Letter of Intent to join the Deamon Deacon program. The graduate of highly touted INSEP Academy possess tremendous combination of size, length and mobility. He made a late significant grow and that’s why his stroke and even handles are really developable as he used to be more of a guard/forward back in the day. He is still adapting to play more in the paint and his frame has a ways to go in terms of filling out. However rim protection and overall defensive potential is something that easily puts Sarr name into draft consideration. After John Collins was picked with 19th by Atlanta Hawks and since Dinos Mitoglou unexpectedly left to the Greece, there is a lot of minutes in frontcourt lineup but also plenty of responsibility for Olivier. Things will most likely get much easier for him during sophomore year when his former teammate and close friend Jaylen Hoard will join WF.
YVES PONS (France, Tennessee)
French physical specimen came up with somewhat late decision about continuing his career on college route. Haiti born player didn’t even speak good English not so long ago. Anyway he is an elite athlete regarding the standards of all power conferences and also considering NBA level. His terrific strength and wingspan allow him to easily check all power forwards standing at just 6’7 in shoes. He takes pride in stopping his man and can lockdown go-to options from 1-4 positions. At the same time he has enough energy to excel in transition and be a target for highlight reel alley-oop dunks. His offensive abilities in half-court are definitely work in progress. He gets tunnel vision and basketball IQ is just average in best case scenario. Same with three point shooting. Nevertheless his tools will allow him to make major immediate impact and if his skills and awareness significantly improves over the collegiate years, He can continue doing his thing in NBA.
JOEL AYAYI (France, Gonzaga)
Joel choose Zags scholarship offer over Georgia Tech after narrowing the list. However he drew interest also from Top educational programs like Stanford or Cal Berkeley. Underaged Joel may not be ready to play much this season but he is incredible pick up thinking long term. He can become next great European player coming out of Gonzaga but finally from the backcourt position. Joel can play both guard spots. He lacks experience as a full time playmaker because he always had to share this responsibility with talented Sofiane Briki or Theo Maledon in INSEP but still can fit and adapt into Mark Few continuity offense. He has room for improvement in terms of shot creation of the dribble and filling out his body. Ayayi is likely to achieve even more than his sister who is long time French NT member and played for San Antonio in WNBA.
LUKA VASIC (Serbia, Charlotte 49ers)
Many fans can still not be aware how great of prospect Luka is. He hasn’t had international showing with Serbian youth team even though he was the MVP of U18 League. Many could say he achieved that thanks to playing in small team (Pirot) where he basically was the Point God. However he quickly pick up in USA where he left off in his homeland and was named to second-team All-New England where he played last season for Avon High School altogether with Filip Petrusev. Previously committed to Hartford which turned out to be more of a commitment to coach Ivo Simovic as both of them will represent Charlotte 49ers now even though Luka drew interest from SMU, Providence and West Virginia among others. Before departure to States Vasic had also episode with Mega Leks in junior Euroleague and many offers from all over the continent to continue his career. Basketball wise he is tremendous athlete for Euro standards and possess all around skillset standing at 6’7. What is even more attractive about him is his eduaction capability which could make him eligible for the most stringent schools in this regard.
MILOS APIC (Serbia, Long Beach State)
Serbian colony is the the biggest among European countries in NCAA Div. I and keeps growing. It’s easy to find a sleeper with extremely high potential in this basketball country as the difference between let’s say 10th and 30th player in given class is barely existing. That’s why there still remain very talented players with lack of any international exposure. This can explain why Milos is more known in USA than in Europe. 6’10 kind of do-it-all Forward arrived in States two years ago after playing for the Sport’s World Academy in Novi Sad which previously raised maybe the worst 2nd NBA Draft pick of all time – Darko Milicic. He checks almost all possible boxes on both ends of the floor and fits perfectly modern basketball. Next year he will headline strong Long Beach State 49ers Euro Freshmen class altogether with Finnish Edon Maxhuni who may very well become the successor of Petteri Koponen.
DAVIDE MORETTI (Italy, Texas Tech)
Davide is the son of Paolo Moretti who played on high domestic level and won many trophies picked Texaas Tech over Uconn, Indiana and Utah. He remained unbothered by not very succesful NCAA carrers of Top Italian players last seasons. Federico Mussini stock was going down in St. John’s and he decided to go back to Reggio Emilia. Few years ago Amadeo Della Valle was not as impactful as expected in Ohio State and also returned to Italy. During 2016/2017 season Moretti was a starter and one of the best players of De Longhi Treviso Basket 2012 (Italian 2nd tier) which was a serious contender to gain Serie A promotion. He faced many American players after not bad colleges and there wasn’t any significant signs of the difference neither in experience nor in skill level. He could already easily play substantial minutes in Italian Top league and it’s interesting if he stays 4 years in college.
SANDRO MAMUKELASHVILI (Georgia, Seton Hall)
Smooth lefty Forward has interesting history. Born in New York city, grew up in Georgia which is the country of his parents. Wasn’t widely recognized before he made a significant growth in High School and arrived in Italy where he played for Angelico Biella. Later he went back to States to prepare for college in Montverde Academy and committed to Seton Hall. Sandro has exceptional skillset for 6’10 player as he produces a lot with the ball in his hands and can kick the ball out to open teammates like legitimate full time playmaker. He also posses nice body control which helps him a lot regarding his slashing ability. Also at his best shooting from the baseline. Seems like he still doesn’t get enough recognition as befits high level prospect.
ROBERTS BLUMBERGS (Latvia, Grand Canyon)
Grand Canyon is recently making really strong push towards European recruits. Blumbergs is the most interesting but not the only frontcourt prospect from 2017 class from Europe, as there is Allessandro Lever in Antelopes roster as well. Blumbergs should already have ability to adapt since he’s been playing outside of Latvia for a long time. He is very dangerous far away from the rim which is a big advantage for a 6’10 player. He is really skilled and his offensive repertoire and scoring abilities are easy to picture being translatable for college level. Roberts is also quite good athlete for Euro standards and it is not out of question if he gets into NBA Draft consideration.
MAREK DOLEZAJ (Slovakia, Syracuse)
Marek may be the biggest talent coming from Slovakia since a while. He possess guard skillset combined with forward size. He was a big part altogether with Mario Ihring of historic promotion to U18 European A Division which Slovak Republic was unfortunately unable to keep on their homeland past summer. Marek didn’t have overly successful time in Zaragoza, Spain but last season he gained noticeable pro experience in Bratislava which shows now in his confidence level. However his body is still not ready from physical standpoint. This imperfection and lack of defensive toughness can be hidden a bit in Syracuse remarkable 2-3 zone defense which could ease his transition to college basketball.