More EuroCamp Content
-adidas EuroCamp Preview and Roster Breakdown
-adidas Eurocamp: Day One
Things started off at 915 AM with a very spirited workout including plenty of five of five action, setting the tone for what was an extremely competitive and well played day of basketball.
The camp was bolstered significantly by the additions of potential first round picks Petr Cornelie and Paul Zipser, who both competed in the five on five games and added quite a bit of intrigue from a scouting perspective. Ante Zizic sat on the sidelines today, as did highly touted 1998-born German prospect Kostja Mushidi, who is reportedly still recovering from an injury and was forced to sit out.
Paul Zipser Takes Care of Business
Zipser is one of the most experienced players in this group, having seen significant minutes in the Euroleague, EuroCup, German BBL and with his national team last summer alongside Dirk Nowitzki. That was immediately evident with the confidence, poise and aggressiveness he showed in the five on five games he participated in.
Zipser attacked the paint relentlessly off the dribble both off closeouts and isolation situations, showing an excellent first step and the ability to finish explosively above the rim. On the perimeter, he knocked down numerous open 3-point shots, mainly of the catch and shoot variety, but also showed the ability to hit a pull-up jumper in the mid-range area, which isn't normally a major strength of his game. Defensively, he guarded multiple positions in his no-nonense fashion, mostly operating at the power forward position, using his strong frame, but showing nice versatility switching onto players big and small all over the floor.
Zipser made a strong case for himself to be considered the best prospect at this camp, and is at the very least the most "ready" to play the role he would be asked to in the NBA, as a 3'n'D combo forward. He looked excellent from a physical perspective, with good size, long arms, big hands and a strong body, which should allow him to play the power forward position without any real issues. His stroke is reliable when given time and space, and he is a versatile defender who is attentive and fundamentally sound.
Young prospects on the deepest and most ambitious clubs in Europe can get "out of sight, out of mind" quickly sometimes in the NBA Draft process, as scouts aren't always able to see exactly what they can offer in limited minutes.
For that reason, Zipser couldn't have done much more to help himself in Treviso, in a five on five setting no less, which is why the Camp Directors quickly elected to cancel the afternoon one on zero workout he had scheduled. He should be a very popular candidate to get workouts in the late first and early second round portion of the draft, and should certainly get strong consideration in that range if he's able to deliver there in similar fashion to what he did in Treviso. After a strong showing in Italy, Zipser now moves on to the US, where he has a number of private workouts already lined up.
Guest Speaker David Blatt
One of the highlights of the Camp so far was the lecture given by former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, who was just hired by Turkish Euroleague squad Darussafaka. The timing of the lecture could not have been any better, with his former club now down 3-1 in the NBA Finals after surprisingly deciding to fire him mid-season, and now on the brink of elimination, showing that he was far from the problem they needed to solve to return to championship contention. You could sense the vindication he was feeling after the unjust way he was treated just a few months ago, and he did not shy away from the topic, discussing how much it helped him to have so many NBA coaches reach out immediately after to offer their support.
Coming extremely prepared with detailed notes on numerous flash cards, Blatt gave the campers a long list of advice on what they need to do to reach their full potential as basketball players and human beings. That included advice for what not to ask their coaches (what is my role?), how to spend their free time ("stay off snapchat, and also instagram"), the importance of respecting every person they encounter ("from your coach, to the water boy"), what he learned from spending time with the San Antonio Spurs ("the importance they place on character"), and plenty of examples of players he's worked with and against that they can use as examples to strive for. That included Andre Iguodala ("will do whatever it takes to help his team win"), Matthew Dellavedova ("beloved by teammates, kind of guy you love to play with and hate to play against"), LeBron James ("always early for every practice, always engaged in every video session and practice), Tristan Thompson, and J.R. Holden.
Blatt had a captivated audience from the many campers in attendance, as well as members of the entire basketball industry, and the gym was buzzing afterwards in excitement about how much he was willing to share.
Watch part of the session here, thanks to our friends at Sportando.
Adidas Next Generation Scrimmage
Adidas has also assembled a Next Generation for this year's EuroCamp. Continuing the tradition started in 2013, this group is composed of many of the top prospects in Europe under the age of 16. Showcasing their skills in a two hour session that included a full court game, the players invited offered NBA and European scouts a glimpse of what the future holds. This year, the rosters for this portion of the Eurocamp were expanded so the players in attendance will form two teams instead of competing against the Benetton juniors as they did a year ago. We got to attend two of their practices the last few days, as well as the lengthy scrimmage, which gave us a decent picture of what appeared to be an extremely talented group of young prospects.
Here are notes on three of the biggest standouts, even though we easily could have written about a dozen or more.
2000-born French point guard Joel Ayayi turned in arguably the most impressive performance in the Next Generation game both in terms of production (25 efficiency) and long-term potential. At 6'4 with an excellent frame and long arms, Ayayi sliced and diced through the defense at will on his way to 13 points on only seven shots in 19 minutes of play. Ayayi, a French native whose parents hail from Benin, a French-speaking West African nation, has an extremely impressive blend of physical tools, ball skills, feel for the game, and competitiveness that you don't often see from a 16-year-old.
He controlled tempo from the opening tip, putting pressure on the rim in transition and finding teammates with drive and kicks, drop offs, and hook passes out of pick and roll, oftentimes using both sides of the floor. He's a very unselfish player who has the ball on a string, possesses above average court vision, and can stride his way to the rim changing speeds and directions along the way. Ayayi has room to grow as a shooter, likely his biggest flaw at the moment, but he's very capable at this stage of his development (2-fo-2 from 3 on Saturday with one bank from straightaway) and has fairly sound mechanics that are certainly workable.
In addition to his feel and offensive talent, Ayayi is a big-time competitor on the defensive end as he makes an effort to sit down in a stance and pressure the ball, get skinny and fight over screens, and finish possessions by crashing the glass (eight rebounds on Saturday). Ayayi, whose sister plays basketball for the French National Team and will be participating in the upcoming Olympics, showed some leadership skills as he was very vocal in on-court huddles and spoke articulately about his game in an interview with DraftExpress. The INSEP product may very well still be growing and is most certainly a high-level prospect worth tracking as he continues to develop.
One of the most highly touted prospects in his generation (2000), Luka Samanic did not disappoint with what he showed at the adidas Next Generation portion of the EuroCamp. Only 15 years old, Samanic already stands a towering 6'8 if not 6'9 in shoes, but is clearly a wing player at this point in his development. The son of a former basketball player who played in Germany and Slovenia and is now the GM of a team in the Croatian league, Samanic grew up breakdancing, but decided to focus solely on basketball not too long ago.
He's a fluid athlete with some impressive explosiveness for a player his age, and a frame that should fill out extremely well in the not too distant future. He can handle the ball creatively, including to push the ball in the open court, play pick and roll, create in one on one situations, or find the open man. He also demonstrates nice potential as a shooter with smooth and consistent mechanics, even if he's not what you could call a knockdown guy just yet, particularly off the bounce.
Samanic is still figuring out how good he can be at this stage, and doesn't always bring a high level of intensity or the most consistent approach to the game, which is not a shock considering how young he is and how little experience he has. That is particularly noticable on the defensive end, where he seemingly just goes through the motions and doesn't really show great toughness, physically or mentally, which might not cut it down the road considering his average length. His body langage is not the best at the moment, as he can get a bit aloof at times, but that might be a byproduct of the amount of hype he's already generating for himself at such a young age.
Samanic recently signed a two year amateur contract with Barcelona, which gives him the flexibility to decide what his next move might be at the conclusion of his high school career. That may include the possibility of attending a US college depending on how things play out.
Serbian big man Filip Petrusev proved to be one of the most polished and offensively talented players on either roster, as he scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting in only 19.5 minutes of action. Petrusev, who signed with Spanish club Laboral Kutxa as a 14-year old, has impressive natural size at 6' 9 to go along with long arms and a strong, proportionate frame that still has plenty of room to develop.
The Belgrade native is mobile, although not fast-twitch or overly vertically explosive, with an impressive offensive skill set for his age. Petrusev scored with his back to the basket on multiple occasions, using his body well versus contact and employing quick spins to beat his defender before finishing with soft touch around the rim. His touch also translates to mid-range spots, where he has very sound mechanics and is quite reliable. Petrusev does step out and shoot threes at times (1-of-3 on Saturday) and that will likely be a weapon in time, but he's at his best inside the arc at this stage of his development. He uses his frame to carve out space on the offensive glass and possesses sharp instincts and good timing going after boards. In addition to his scoring touch, crisp footwork in the post, and work on the offensive glass, Petrusev, who DraftExpress evaluated at the 2016 Jordan Brand Classic, possesses a solid feel for the game for a 16-year-old big as he plays with poise and keeps the ball moving.
Like most bigs, Petrusev has room to grow as a defender and defensive rebounder. He's not the most explosive leaper and doesn't protect the rim with natural instincts, nor does he step away from the rim and defend all that comfortably at this stage. With that said, Petrusev figures to improve in those areas as he continues to gain more experience and grow into his body. Overall Petrusev is an intriguing prospect with a nice blend of physical tools, offensive skills, and feel for the game, even though his upside might not be off the charts.
Uneven Day for Petr Cornelie
His outside shot, however, betrayed him a bit early in the day, a trend that carried into the evening game as well. Showing stretch potential all season long in Le Mans by way of 40% from three on 103 attempts, Cornelie struggled to command his three ball as he didn't get consistent rotation and regularly finished with a follow through bending to his left rather than toward the rim. The 20-year-old Le Mans big man was, however, able to show some natural touch around the rim, a projectable stroke, and the ability to attack a closeout on occasion, which is impressive for his size even if he wasn't always able to convert.
While Cornelie's combination of height, fluidity and offensive upside stood out, he had some struggles in the evening game against the USA Select Team. Sporting a narrow frame at 216 pounds, Cornelie tended to shy away from the physicality of a much younger USA team full of mostly 1998 and 1999 born players. With his jump shot not falling, Cornelie didn't quite do enough else as an interior defender and rebounder to bring a ton of value to the floor. He did move the ball effectively in the half court with a few nice high low passes, and made his presence felt late by flying in from the perimeter for put backs. But all in all his lack of strength and grit on the interior, along with his average length, limited his effectiveness. Cornelie did make an effort to step out and switch ball screens as he sat down in a stance and proved fairly light on his feet. Cornelie still has room to improve his lateral foot speed, however, as he's more mobile in a straight line and relies more on recovering to alter shots than keeping the ball contained.
Despite some of Cornelie's struggles on Saturday he's still an intriguing prospect because of his blend of tools and skills. The Calais, France native most certainly isn't the first NBA prospect to turn in a mediocre day at Eurocamp, and it's important for scouts and talent evaluators not to put too much stock in a few hours of competition with players he's never played with before. Corenlie most certainly still has some serious intrigue in the early second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, but on Saturday he showed his warts.
EuroCamp All-Star Team vs US Select Team
In one of the most competiive and memorable EuroCamp games we can recall in our decade of attending this event, a EuroCamp All-Star team took down a very fiesty and determined US group compsed of far younger and inexperienced prospects. Both teams trash-talked each other all game long, delivered hard fouls, and celebrated their made baskets from the bench in a highly animated and entertaining fashion.
Jordan Usher was extremely effective for the Americans, making shots from all over the court en route to 19 points in just 23 minutes of action. Ultra-talented Jaylen Hands had a much more consistent day pushing the ball up the court with his blazing speed and getting to the free throw line 12 times in just 21 minutes.
The Europeans were led by their trio of talented guards, Diego Flaccadori, Kenan Sipahi and Dario Brizuela, with their flashy ball-handling skills, excellent creativity, extreme swagger and welth of experience playing at the highest levels of basketball outside of the NBA. They spoonfed their big men Adam Pechacek and Roland Smits with open looks in the half-court and transition pushes, helping the two combine for 34 points in 42 minutes.
Oriol Pauli also demonstrated his talent once again, handling the ball impressively, finishing with athleticism, showing his streaky jumper, and competing non-stop defensively. The big Spanish guard has helped himself as much as any prospect in Treviso so far.
We'll have a lot more about the US team and the EuroCamp participants tomorrow after the conclusion of the camp.
U20 Ukraine - U20 France
The two national teams continued their preparation for the U20 European Championship in Treviso with what turned out to be a disappointing blowout, with the Ukrainians easily beating the French by a fitting 20 points. Rising Kansas Jayhawk junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had a better showing today with 14 points in 29 minutes, knocking down 4/10 shots from beyond the arc, and again playing solid defense. We'll have a complete wrap-up on the talented Ukranian wing after his final game tomorrow against the US squad. Prolific scorer Oleksandr Kobets had a strong game as well with 17 points in 27 minutes, creating almost all of his offensive exclusively.