We take a look back at the U-18 European Championships celebrated in July in Rhodes to individually check on the best players seen in the competition, continuing with the wing players.
ROBIN BENZING, SF (PF), 610, Germany, 1989
22.2 PPG; 5.0 RPG; 2.0 APG
Hes quite agile and has good mobility, even if he lacks strength and better athleticism to be a more effective finisher inside, especially with his left hand. Although an okay passer with good court vision, his mind is mostly set on scoring himself, which, to his credit, he did very effectively throughout the tournament. He has the ability to make very quick decisions once he receives the ball. Whether it is to make use of his quick first step to drive or shoot a three. He attempted more than seven 3-point shots per game, more than his 2-point attempts for that matter, but made them at a sizzling 40% rate. Benzing doesnt have the nicest looking stroke and doesnt show the highest release point either, but his size and quick release enable him to get it off anyway. He was fairly successful with his slashing as, getting to the free throw line 8 times per game.
Overall he understands the game pretty well, showing good awareness on both offense and defense, giving a confident impression and providing instructions to teammates. He seems to be pretty consistent with his play as well, which is not always the case at this age group.
Defensively hes not much of a force at all, as hes not a very tough or intense player, and thus has many difficulties staying in front of his man. He gets beaten too easily both defending on the interior and against perimeter oriented matchups. In four of his five games he actually ended up with four plus fouls. Its possible that he will need to move to the power forward at the professional level for this reason,
SEAD SEHOVIC, SF, 67, Montenegro, 1989
17.6 PPG; 4.9 RPG; 4.0 APG
Sehovic is able to handle the ball, even taking it up court on several occasions. Hes quite effective slashing decisively to the basket, while still keeping an eye out for open teammates to dish the ball too. He forced a fair share of fouls thanks to his aggressiveness. He can finish with both hands near the rim, but he does show a strong preference to initiate penetration towards his better right side. Hes a player with a good basketball IQ and awareness on the court, as hes confident and creative playing the game.
Sehovics outside shooting on the other hand still needs a lot of work. He shot the ball more from long range with worse shot selection, and thus his percentages went down from 36% to 26% in 3 point field goals compared to last year in Riga. He is quite a good passer, though, both from his drives or from static positions. Hes also an excellent rebounder, possessing great positioning and timing. He makes sure to box out his matchup and often goes for offensive boards too.
Sehovic plays with intensity and is a pretty reliable defensive presence. Hes a good hustler, shows decent lateral speed and always gives a consistent effort. As a player to lead a team on offense he will most probably not be the best choice. Nonetheless as a versatile glue guy, hell have a nice career in Europe. If he can become more reliable as a shooter, he can probably play at a very high level there.
PERE TOMAS, SF, 67, Spain, 1989
14.9 PPG; 8.3 RPG; 0.8 APG
It says a lot about the tournament he played, being able to reach such a high scoring average when hes not really a dominant scoring-type of player, being much more an intelligent hard working team player, showing good toughness and confidence. You wont see him forcing many shots, as hes actually not a very good shooter, being very irregular from 3-point distance (27%), and not possessing a very quick release, which makes it difficult for him to shoot off dribble. He did convert 92% of his free throws however. Tomas is not a reliable enough ball handler to bring the ball up half court. Hes good enough for some dribbles to slash to the rim though, but only occasionally.
Truth be told, Tomas is a player whos able to do many things on the court without excelling in any of them. Hes an OK passer on the perimeter, but is relatively limited when driving further. He did take his match-ups into the post several times, from where he can use his superior strength, turn around jumpers and even jump hooks to score. He also has good awareness and positions himself excellently, whether it is to catch and shoot an open three or to grab an offensive rebound.
Tomas shows a very good effort overall, running up and down the floor consistently, while giving good intensity on both the defensive end and on the glass. He boxes out for rebounds, usually also pursuing offensive rebounds out of his area.
On defense hes certainly a solid part of the team, aware when on help side, contesting shots, and giving it all in order not to get beat on the perimeter or in the post. His average quickness and lateral speed nonetheless limit his possible success against some quicker opponents.
Tomas is a blue collar type of player who may not have great upside but can regardless emerge as a very effective player in the ACB league.
KONSTANTINOS PAPANIKOLAOU, SF, 67, Greece, 1990
11.8 PPG; 6.4 RPG; 1.8 APG
Papanikolaou is a tough and intense player, always showing a lot of passion and emotion on the court, including constantly complaining to the referees. He has a very nice and strong frame to go along with decent athleticism and agility. Hes a solid passer, both on the perimeter and when slashing to the basket. He handles the ball well with his strong left hand, however with his right hes noticeably weaker. His penetrations mostly go left as well, but he is pretty successful there, finishing with high percentages around the rim, always with confidence and aggressiveness. On the downside he did turn the ball over a decent amount, which was often caused by sloppy decision-making.
Papanikolaou displays a good looking stroke that was not consistent at all during this tournament, shooting just 28% during the tournament. His free throw percentage must improve significantly as well, at just 61%. Although he did play minutes on the 4 position, his future with the pros is definitely as a small forward. Hes able to post up against other 3s, but hes undersized to do so against real power forwards on the elite level.
As a rebounder he did a very good job here, showing good awareness for offensive boards and being very effective defensively as well en route to his team-leading 6.4 rebounds per game. Overall hes a pretty good defensive player, both in man to man (possibly lacking better lateral quickness on the perimeter), as well as getting in the passing lanes and coming from the weak side. To emphasize that, he averaged 2 steals and 1.4 blocked shots per game here.
Konstantinos Papanikolaou is a 1990 born player with a good potential, something that Olympiacos likely agrees with since they just paid a 1 million Euro buyout fee to Aris to secure his rights. His NBA potential is still up in the air, but hes bound to become a valuable player in high-level Europe at the very least.
ELIAS HARRIS, SF, 66, Germany, 1989
14 PPG; 6.4 RPG; 0.4 APG
As far as his shooting is concerned, his stroke itself looks decent, but he needs plenty of improvement in this aspect, as his terrible 41% free throw percentage would indicate. He does seem to be aware of his limitations regarding as a 3-point shooter, though, and thus hesitates to attempt perimeter jumpers. Slashing to the basket however hes very hard to stop, being able to go right or left. He doesnt have the greatest touch right now, but his strength, explosiveness and good balance compensate to be a reliable inside finisher nonetheless, helping him rank first in overall field goal percentage at 60%. Even being undersized, he can do quite a bit of damage in the low post too, using his body well and even showing off some spin moves.
As a rebounder hes not a fierce pursuer of offensive boards, but is very strong going after defensive rebounds. And if he would do a better job boxing out, it can only get better. He contributes in other aspects such as stealing and shotblocking too, collecting one of each per game here on the Greek Island. On the other hand the 3.2 turnovers were the clear negative part of his performance. In 25 minutes this is really too high.
Generally still a quite raw player with an interesting progress margin, Harris will be interesting to keep track of at Gonzaga.
MINDAUGAS KUZMINSKAS, SF, 68, Lithuania, 1989
9.9 PPG; 5.2 RPG; 0.3 APG
His shooting stroke is really very nice, showing a quick release and a pretty high release point, however his percentage from beyond the arc surely doesnt credit him as a good outside shooter (13%!). He was not what you would call streaky, he was simply completely off target. The 79% in which he converted his free throws gives hope that he can improve as well from long range though.
He also handles the ball decently, and has the potential to work on pull-up jumper. In his best version hes also a powerful slasher, obtaining decent percentages finishing inside. Hes a pretty good perimeter passer, but not so solid on drives or on the fast-break, only coming up with 0.3 assists per game. Overall hes too irregular on offense, unable to provide scoring on a consistent base.
He also gave a good rebounding effort with 5.2 per game, of which quite a lot were on offense. Defensively we return to his mentality. He has good lateral speed, and when his intensity level and effort are as required, hes certainly reliable, coming up with both steals (1.6) and blocks (1.2). Generally his presence on the court during this championship was noticed positively, but in some of the scrimmages disputed at the recent Reebok Eurocamp he gave another impression at times.
Kuzminskas looks like he can become a valuable asset for teams even at the highest European club level, with further development for a couple of years. His NBA potential may be limited, though.
TOMMASO RASPINO, SF, 65, Italy, 1989
10.4 PPG; 4.2 RPG; 0.9 APG
Raspino runs the floor well, showing a good up and down effort. Hes an okay passer and ball-handler with both hands, and able to bring the ball up the court himself at times. He enjoys good court vision and awareness to position himself at the right spot at the right moment, also reading the defense to exploit mismatches and setting strong picks. Hes also pretty good driving to the basket, and he finds better positioned teammates when that occurs. He seems to lack better touch and athleticism to improve his finishing inside, though. He appears to have a post up game, of which he logically cant take advantage very often with his average size. As a shooter he doesnt appear to be very a huge weapon from downtown, but thanks to his shot-selection, managed to register a solid 39% anyway. Although he can hit runners occasionally, hes not good at creating shots off the dribble.
As a rebounder we have to give him credit, doing a good job both on defense as well as following up to grab some on offense. On defense he plays with intensity, but his lack of lateral quickness combined with his limited size will create trouble for him in many match-ups, and probably more so with the pros.
SEMEN SHASHKOV, SF, 67, Russia, 1989
2.1 PPG, 1.3 RPG; 0.5 APG