Break caused by FIBA World Cup Qualifiers was perfect opportunity to make a summary of the 2017/2018 season beginning. It is normal that young talents struggle to be consistent night in night out. Often they have a good start and then their form keeps going down. That is why the names and numbers in April/May might be totally different. However we focused on current situation this time and made a run-down on prospects who are standing out with their performance.
GOGA BITADZE (MEGA LEKS) ABA LIGA
- Georgian big man had extremely hot start to the season including stunning performance vs Euroleague bound Crvena Zvezda (19 points + 4 blocks). Recently he slowed down a little with offensive contribution but keeps averaging ridiculously good +4 blocks per 36 minutes.
LUKA DONCIC (REAL MADRID) LIGA ENDESA & EUROLEAGUE
- Slovenian pearl keeps proving himself against the best possible competition in Europe. He finishes through contact, vs length, creates shots at will and really become nightmare match up for any kind of defense. MVP of Euroleague in October and current best scorer.
ISAAC BONGA (FRAPORT SKYLINERS) BEKO BBL
- German/Congo freak is playing much bigger role in Fraport than last season. He shows flashes of improved spot up 3pt shooting (5/12 so far) and recorded amazing 20/21 from the free throw line. Moreover passed the test vs Germany’s top team – Bayern Munchen and played as well as in other games.
NIK SLAVICA (6’7, 1997, CEDEVITA ZAGREB) PREMIJER LIGA
- Nik moved to the local rival. He doesn’t have much playing time neither in European competitions nor in ABA Liga so far but made up for the lost time in Croatian league. He scored breathtaking 47 points on just 30 shots in big win vs Zagreb in high scoring game (129-87). Moreover he grabbed 16 boards and finished with 53 index.
AMINE NOUA (6’8, 1997, ASVEL LYON) PRO-A
- Possibly the biggest positive surprise of the season beggining so far. He averages nearly 20 points per 36 minutes on 51.2 2FG and 45.0% 3FG. Currently contributes more than Alpha Kaba who was expected to be a bit more impactful.
ELIE FRANCK OKOBO (6’2, 1997, PAU-ORTHEZ) PRO-A
- Crafty guard Okobo continues building up his reputation in France as a proficient scoring first point guard. Averaging nearly 25 per game while scoring 10.8 in French ProA, Okobo has been considered in the draft pool.
ARNOLDAS KULBOKA (6’10, 1998, CAPO D’ORLANDO) BCL
- Even though only 19 years old, Kulboka is now playing in his 3 league and recently he is lighting up the scoring sheets. Sharpshooter averaging 40.5% from 3pt line in all competitions and has a vital role in the team. Still has to develop his game inside the arc though.
MARTYNAS ECHODAS (6’9, 1997, LIETUVOS RYTAS) LITHUANIA LKL
- Rytas has found a lot of energy and competitiveness in the youngster Echodas this season. Started the Lithuanian league with a clear statement of his capabilities, he averaged 17 points in the first 4 games. Very agressive on offensive glass and his mobility causing lots of trouble to the opposition.
- Lithuanian tower had a number of great performances last year as well but now he is in a better team with a better role having a much better output. So far he is comfortable finishing with both hands, positioning himself well and not letting easy rebounds fall to the opposing team. Consistency is the key for him to realize his potential.
DZANAN MUSA (6’8, 1999, CEDEVITA ZAGREB) ABA LIGA/EUROCUP
- Dzanan is quietly having the great season with Cedevita. He is equally efficient in every competition he plays in. Starting from not so strong Croatian Premijer Liga all the way to Eurocup. He utilizes his tremendous scoring instincts and averages 23.9 PTS, 50% FG, 7.3 REBS and only 2.4 TO per 40 minutes.
VANJA MARINKOVIC (6’6, 1997, PARTIZAN) ABA LEAGUE
- As an amazing outside threat, he is quietly following Bogdan Bogdanovic’s footsteps this year. In last summer we have seen that he can play the P&R with high efficiency, now at the senior level he is taking care of the ball so well. Natural freak when it comes to shooting the three ball.
BLAZ MESICEK (6’6, 1997, ENEL BRINDISI) SERIE A
- Blaz has been a solid contributor for Italian League side Enel Brindisi basket as a starter. He is more comfortable now playing in Italy it seems, currently shooting 42.9% from 3s and rarely turns to ball over. As he gets more mature, he can only do better in the future.
DIEGO FLACCADORI (6’5, 1996, DOLOMITI TRENTO) EUROCUP
- After a sloppy start to the league, Flaccadori get back on track posting similar numbers to last year. His best game so far came in Eurocup competition against ULM, having 20 points, 6 assists in 32 minutes to give Trento a victory. Needs to be more consistent but Diego doesn’t seem afraid of high level competition.
ALEKSA RADANOV (6’8, 1998, FMP) ABA LEAGUE
- All around player with plenty of tools to be polished in the future. Still, Radanov started to show his aggressive rim attacking and basketball IQ in ABA League. He is selecting his shot well and making contributions on other aspects of the game as well.
HENDRIK DRESCHER (6’9, 2000, ALBA BERLIN) BEKO BBL
- Drescher stepped on the court vs Walter Tigers and even hit a three pointer (it’s becoming his asset as he is developing more of PF skillset). Become the youngest Albatros ever next to Moritz Wagner
JOEL PARRA (6’7, 2000, JOVENTUT BADALONA) BASKETBALL CL
- Parra is improving his face up and shooting skills and has been totally dominant so far in Spanish U18 and EBA liga. He still didn’t play in ACB but appeared in three Basketball CL Qualifiers and even started some of them.
SEBASTIAN WALDA (6’4, 2000, TREFL SOPOT) POLISH LEAGUE
- Walda played small minutes in blowout win vs Mosir Krosno. Doesn’t have a big chance to play regularly for now but he is a freak athlete for European standards and somewhat slept on prospect.
THEO MALEDON (6’4, 2001, ASVEL LYON) PRO-A
- Theo is as mature as it gets at his age. He is the leader of Espoirs U21 team and will probably make more appearances during the season. His teammate and backcourt partner Sofiane Briki also already played in Pro A.
MARTYNAS ARLAUSKAS (6’6, 2000, ZALGIRIS KAUNAS) EUROLEAGUE
- First he made somewhat surprising but only 6 seconds long debut. Next appearance was a bit longer and he maybe had the youngest Euroleague match up ever competing against Luka Doncic.
OMER KUCUK (6’3, 2001, TED ANKARA KOLEJLILER) TBL
- Getting remarkable minutes as a 16 year old in Turkish Second Division. What is amazing about this guy is that he is controlling the game so well and making most of his minutes count in a pretty tough competition.
LEN SCHOORMANN (6’5, 2002 FRAPORT SKYLINERS) JBBL/NBBL
- JBBL level is a bit average this year and clearly not good enough for Schoormann. He literally crashed the opponents and even backboard last month. Scored 80 points and collected 36 rebounds in last two games.
MICHAEL BESSELINK (6’6, 1999 PORVOON TARMO) FINLAND 1st. Div.
- Marist commit is highly intriguing late bloomer who averages more than 20 points per contest in Finnish 2nd tier. Last week he scored 23 points on HBA Marsky which is loaded with notable college prospects which was gaining much more attention so far.
ERXHAN OSMANI (6’10, 1998, BANDIRMA KIRMIZI) TBL
- Albanian player presents incredible versatility and all around game for Banvit B team. Very active on the court, does not struggle against much more experienced US origins players in second division basketball.
SEHMUS HAZER (6’4, 1999, BANDIRMA KIRMIZI) TBL
- One of the pleasant surprises of last U18 European Championship, continues to add on what he has in him; perimeter shooting. Hustles for all the loose balls and has an aggressive scoring mentality. Much better shooter compared to earlier seasons.
MARCEL PONITKA (6’4, 1997, ASSECO GDYNIA) POLISH LEAGUE
- Another season Asseco has in the roster only Polish players. Marcel benefits from that and looks more and more comfortable on point guard position even during the crunch time. Jumper is still not sound but he proves himself as an elite rebounder for backcourt player (almost 8.4 boards per 36).
MARKO PECARSKI (6’9, 2000, PARTIZAN BELGRADE) EUROCUP
- Marko proves that his golden hands and instincts can overcome lack of athleticism. He is already translating his scoring ability to the strong Eurocup level where he scored 8pts vs Alba Berlin and 9 against Lietuvos Rytas.
OLLE LUNDQVIST (6’7, 1999, JAMTLAND)
- Swedish league is far even from medium European level but not much worse from some of the second tiers where other prospects play or are loaned to. Olle proves his versitality which basically allow him to play 1-4 positions. He is averaging +13.5 points, +7.5 rebs, + 5 assts and nearly 3 steals per 36 minutes.
SERGI GARCIA (6’4, 1997, ZARAGOZA) ACB
- Lefty point guard continues where he left off last year. Seems more efficient than ever, he is totally on fire in November.