by Marco Fracasso
The Reebok Eurocamp was held for the fifth year in Treviso, at La Ghirada, the practice facility of Benetton Treviso's basketball team. The camp has quickly become an important pre-draft event, a great opportunity to see some of the best prospects from all over Europe and above, with the oldest being Damir Rancik (22) and youngest Danilo Gallinari
(will be 17 in August). The camp was held between June 12th to 14th, and it will be followed by the Big Men Camp also organized by Reebok.
As in previous editions, it was organized with teaching stations held by NBA international coaches like Donnie Nelson, Jack Sikma
and Dennis Lindsey in the mornings, with the afternoons reserved for games between the prospects. The third day was dedicated to some competitions like the slam dunk and 3 point contests before the All Star Game in the afternoon.
The innovation of this year were the two exhibition games, played on the 2nd and 3rd days, between a selection of All Stars of the camp and the Under 20 Italian and Israeli National teams. Those exhibition games came at the expense of the All Star Game on the third day, but they were more interesting because you could see those guys playing against true teams, teams who put forth a lot of energy to win the games.
Finally, on the first day there were measurements and the vertical jump tests. At first glance the players' heights, taken with their shoes on, seemed inflated by a good inch, and that was indeed confirmed speaking to the players themselves. Drago Pasalic
for example measured in at 6-11 earlier in the week in Chicago, and came out at 7 feet in Treviso. In this article we'll report the official measurements released at the camp. The players: (year of birth, height, weight, wingspan) Ivan Chiriaev (Shiryaev the correct spelling according to Reebok, 1984, 7-1, 220 pounds, 6-11)
We'll start with the story that tells a lot about draft hype and the effect it can have on a young man's career. You may have already heard about Ivan, he's the guy who played basketball at a small high school in Canada and who was hyped to the point he was projected by one site as a high lottery pick. Others in the media bought this story without seeing play at all, while everything around the young kid made him lose touch with reality. But at the end, once his game was scouted properly, his talent level was finally exposed, building a very bad perception and reputation for him. Ivan was probably the least guilty person in the process, who's only fault was listening to the wrong people and believing his own hype. What we saw here was a pretty good player; tall, coordinated, with very good ball-handling and court vision, and probably just an average outside shot , but who's lacking the athleticism and energy to be a interesting NBA prospect, much less a top pick. Ivan was working hard at the camp, trying to follow the coaches instructions, but how long is he going to be remembered as the joke someone projected as a top pick? And how is this going to affect his future career in Europe?Roko-Leni Ukic (December 1984, 6-6, 189 pounds, 6-7):
Viktor Keirou (1984, 6-7, 200 pounds, 6-9):
Last year he was the best player in the camp, above top prospects like Nemanja Aleksandrov
or Martynas Andriuskevicius
. After a great season playing for KK Split, he came back to Treviso. Roko has great size and the athleticism, along with the quickness and the skills for the point guard position, as you already know from our ongoing coverage of him all season long. He's at his best in the open court, while in the half court game he sometimes dominates the ball too much and his shot is decent but not deadly. He can drive and dish, even if his ability of beating his man off the dribble still needs to be tested at a higher level, just like his ability to finish around the basket considering the fact that his body still needs to fill out. He proved last year that he can defend smaller PGs, while being a threat in the passing lanes. This year he didn't look as focused as he was last year on defense, but his talent was there to see even though he was apparently fighting the flue. He's projected as a mid-first rounder if he stays in the draft.
Keirou is an athletic guard who impressed the scouts with a complete game and hard-nosed defense. He can hit the jump shot from outside and can go aggressively to the basket, not shying away from contact and finishing with both hands or finding the open man. He can effectively move off the ball and shoot a mid-range shot off a screen. He is a little skinny at this point, and could definitely improve his ball-handling. He declared for the draft this year, as could go as high as at the top of the second round, if he stays in.Pawel Mroz (1984, 7-2, 220 pounds, 7-0):
Mroz is tall and has a good frame, with the possibility to add some meat to his body to handle the center position. He has some ability to play while facing the basket; being a great shooter with unlimited range and the ability to put the ball on the floor, something that has improved since last year. Mroz is athletic and coordinated, but not very explosive, surprising everyone here by winning the dunk contest. In the games his shot wasn't always falling, but he proved in other circumstances that this was just a bad run, He also showed good defensive ability and a nose for blocking shots. What he really lacks is a back to the basket game at this point. Could be a potential draft pick next year when he'll be automatically eligible, maybe even a first rounder if he can do something interesting during the season.Souarata Cissé (1986, 6-6, 195 pounds, 6-7):
His game looks very similar to Keirou's, just at a rawer stage. The Frenchman is smaller than the Russian, but seems to be a better athlete and more of an energy player, with some interesting hustle plays you like to see in such a young player. The best part of his game seems to be his mid-range game right now, making some heavily contested shots from this area to back that up. His three point shot wasn't always falling, but he's mechanics looked ok and he looked confident and not tentative at all while taking it.Andrea Bargnani (1985, 7-0, not measured at the camp):
Young prospects with potential:
Bargnani was only seen at the exhibition game between the RBK All Stars and the Italian U20 NT. Andrea would have been a lottery pick this year, and scouts guarantee that he's set to become a high pick in the 2006 draft. You can learn much more about his game from his scouting report
. Bargnani played in the exhibition game far from the basket, showing his ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, but was limited by foul trouble. He finished the season really strong in the Italian League playoffs, something which we'll discuss in more depth in the next few weeks on DraftExpress.
Here we'll list a group of very young players, who showed the potential to become impact players down the stretch. These guys showed some glimpses of their talent, but still have a long way to go to fulfill their potential, after letting both their body and their games mature. Vasily Zavoruev (1987, 6-7, 195 pounds, 6-7):
We'll start with a guy who is at this point a little more than just a promising kid. A member of the junior level juggernaut CSKA Moscow, who were European champions many times over, he even had a little experience with the senior team this past season. We included him on this list because this guy really has all the tools to become really a special player. Since last year, he dramatically improved in every facet of the game, especially since he's playing much more under control. He struggled sometimes with his outside shot, but he has the right mechanics and was hitting it regularly in practice. He has great handles with both hands and is explosive enough to be a threat off the dribble to drive to the basket, going left or right, knowing how to use screens in the process. He can slash inside finishing with both hands, find the open man or stop and pull up for the midrange jumpshot. He even played some point guard with decent results, showing what kind of a complete game he has at such a young age. What's more impressive is that he didn't look like one of the youngest players at this camp. He is already a star at this level, something you can't say of the other guys in this list. Nikola Dragovic (December 1987, 6-9, 215 pounds, 6-11):
An athletic small forward with a good frame, coordinated finishing near the basket and with range out of 3pt line. Like Zavourev, it wasn't obvious that he was one of the youngest players on the court. Didn't have as much of a complete game as the Russian kid, and some might question his wild decision making, but this guy showed a strong personality and will, having an impact even on defense thanks to his energy. He needs to refine his handles and his midrange game, but if he keeps working on his game you might find him in the first round in a few years. Danilo Gallinari (August 1988, 6-9, 210 pounds, 7-0):
Just like in the last's years camp, he's the youngest player in the camp. Looks like he's grown to 6-9 while letting his body mature in the past year. The son of a former Italian league first division player, Danilo has perfect fundamentals that players from basketball families often develop. He can play any position from point guard to small forward, and shows a perfect stroke while doing so. He's a fluid, but not explosive athlete, still looking like the kid he actually is. Gallinari was often matched up against smaller and quicker players, and didn't look to have quick enough feet to guard them at this point. He looked a bit too timid in game situations, having some bad turnovers and rarely trying to create something for the team or for himself, but the talent is there to see. Plays in the 3rd division in Italy, rumors say he could be headed in the first division to Milan. Roman Gumenyuk (September 1987, 7-4, 235 pounds, 7-3):
This guy raised some eyebrows in the 2004 edition of the camp, even if both his body and his game were very raw, because of his size, quickness and coordination. He has vastly improved in all aspects during the last year. And while still being very skinny, he has added some meat to his body, and improved his shot and his post moves. He was supposed to be still growing, but looks just as tall as he was a year ago. At this point he's still a player who could be impressive in practice and have some good short stretches in games, but he has a long way to go in his understanding of the game, on both sides of the floor to be effective. A player to follow in the future, he could become a lottery pick in 2-3 years because of his physical attributes, but he has his work cut out for him until then. Good for Europe:
This is a list of players who've been dominating the camp during some stretches, but who seem more fit for a great career in Europe rather than to find a place in the NBA at a young age. It doesn't mean that these guys don't have the talent to cross the ocean, but we expect them first to develop in Europe and then, once in or near their primes, if they will succeed, might find a chance to play in the NBA. These are guys who might lack size, athleticism or who simply are solid in everything, but brilliant in nothing. Steve Markovic (1985, 6-4, 220 pounds, 6-5):
Played just the first day, and sidelined the next one by a groin injury. Very mature and strong physically, and it helped him a lot, as he was maybe the most dominating player at the camp. He has the shooting, the passing ability, the vision and the ability to drive and finish. He just knows how to play the game. He has to translate all this at a higher level, but could have a great career in Europe. He's Australian born, but his father comes from the former Yugoslavia. He's supposed to get a double passport and it will help him in the European career he's looking for. Drago Pasalic (1984, 7-0, 245 pounds, 6-11):
A player who is well known to NBA scouts, having played both in the Eurocamp and in the Chicago Pre-draft Camp twice in the last two seasons. Pasalic is a very solid player who knows how to use his body inside, but can also hit shots from the outside too, being one of the smartest players in the camp. He doesn't look very athletic, which makes you wonder how well he could translate his game in the NBA, considering that he seems to be one of those guys who does nothing exceptionally well.Mirza Teletovic (September 1985, 6-9, 255 pounds, 6-10):
Teletovic is a really big and strong kid. Last year he impressed with his toughness and mean streak under the basket. While he is athletic and explosive for a PF, he might lack the height to make it in the NBA from the four spot, and therefore needs to move down a position most likely. For long stretches he played small forward at the camp. He has the shot, but not the quickness, which is why he might get exposed at a higher level at that position. Has the potential to become a dominating power player in Europe, but his lack of height makes it unlikely that a NBA team will try to play him at his true position, at least at this point. Someone could try to convert him into a small forward, but the risk is to make him a tweener. The guy is already trying to show he can play far from the basket, but he needs to be careful and not lose his inside game, because it would be a waste to see such a strong guy hanging out on the perimeter jacking up threes. Costas Vassiliadis (1984, 6-7, 215 pounds, 6-6):
Got some attention because of the great game he had against the Italian U20 national team (26 points, 7/10 FG, 8/9 FT). Has a strong body, knows how to play off the ball, but as a pure shooting guard he's not explosive enough to be considered a NBA prospect at such a young age. Top of the camp:
Height: Roman Gumenyuk
Standing Reach: Obi Kenechukwu, 9-7
Weight: Volodymir Orlenko, 260 pounds
Wingspan: Obi Kenechukwu, 7-6
Vertical jump (standing): Olivier Iilung, 32 inches
Vertical jump (w/approach): Rudy Mbemba
, 36 inches
Special thanks go out to Pete Philo, the Director of the Reebok Eurocamp.