Part One: U-18 European Championships Prospects: Point Guards
Part Two: U-18 European Championships Prospects: The Wings
Continuing with our player-by-player recap of the European Junior Championships, the power forwards demand our attention. Vladimir Dasic leads this crop, perhaps not utterly intriguing, nor too much prolific in outstanding players, but featuring some interesting potential that might pay off in the long run.
Serbia and Montenegro, PF, 6-9, 13/05/1988; 19.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.6 apg
Last year we wondered about the eventual position on the court of this forward, but after a complete season in Buducnost and this tournament playing power forward, and actually looking like one, he seems headed there.
Anyway, Dasic still displays the same impressive physical and athletic set. Hes long, strong, fluid, quick, coordinated and a good leaper. His body is extremely well built, with excellent shoulders, a strong and balanced upper and lower body, but keeping a certainly slender figure and his flexibility. All in all, an excellent basketball weapon that, standing somewhere between 6-9 and 6-10, has nice but not great size.
Skill-wise, Dasic is a versatile threat in the ways he puts the ball in the net. Hes more of a face-up forward, a guy who likes to attack the basket from the perimeter, although he can also evolve effectively near the basket. He enjoys remarkable ball-handling skills for a guy his size, which allows him to create advantages from the perimeter, as hes capable of regularly beating his power forward matchups. Showing nice footwork, he can do fairly complicated stuff for a big such as change directions, or eventually even with a reverse move off penetrations. He can attack his rival, as well as finish around the basket, using either hand, while he is quite physical with the way he slashes, using his body pretty well to create space.
A solid shooter, he enjoys three-point range and has the ability to release mid-range jumpers off the dribble or coming off a screen, always delivering very good mechanics. Hes quite a fluid guy playing the game. Not really a virtuous of the low post, he has quickness, some length and especially strength to be effective. With some turnaround jumpers or semi-hook shots, he regularly cashed in on that superior strength. His physical set is as good for defense as it is for offense, if not better. He shows excellent lateral quickness, never got outmuscled in this tournament and he can be a pretty intense guy.
Dasic is a very interesting prospect, perhaps not top-class NBA-wise, especially if he sticks to the power forward spot (which seems likely but not 100% certain), but a guy with the tools to play in any kind of league he wants, providing he continues to improve.
Russia, PF, 7-0, 15/01/1988; 4.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Whats so intriguing about Zabelin then? Well, hes a seven footer with very good athleticism and coordination. Still his body is very raw, showing a skinny frame that will cause him problems if he eventually decides to fill it out to play center.
Its a bit of the same story skill-wise. You can see he could develop some intriguing abilities, but they are at a very preliminary stage at this point. His shooting has looked extremely inconsistent, regularly trying 18-20 footers with little success. His ball handling is below average, getting poor results whenever he decided to attack his rival. In the low post, his moves are very unpolished, while he gets regularly outmuscled, although at least he doesnt back off from contact. However, he seems to understand the game and could be the kind of guy who learns fast.
The outcome is a very intriguing player, with excellent potential, but still a ways away from contributing anything in the near future. For the moment, he faces a positional problem, as hes very far from being skilled enough to play on the perimeter, but just isnt strong enough to play in the paint. Well have to wait and see how he develops.
France, PF/C, 6-9, 21/11/1988; 7.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg
His skill set is not on par with his physical exuberance. Hes an inside player who gets production basically only in the low post or shooting from the mid-range area. In general, hes not a guy who you feel the game comes naturally to. He rarely puts the ball on the floor, his footwork is average and he doesnt have too much of a soft touch around the basket. He establishes position easily down low using his body, and then likes to shoot turnaround jumpers or try to outmuscle his rival to get an easy basket near the rim, although he often suffers to get the job done (meaning, to finally put the ball inside the rim) despite having everything in his favor. Also, whenever he tries any complicated moves, he usually gets into trouble, exposing his poor footwork and handles, while showing average coordination.
On defense, his size and strength help him a lot, but his lateral movement is nothing out of this world. He helps in the rebounding and shot-blocking departments, but hes not great at any of them, probably because he isnt a super-active guy and his timing is average.
Disappointing might be the best way to describe his performance. Its more a matter of expectations than bad play. After all, he was an important inside player for the championship team. Anyway, he will need to work hard on his game for the future, particularly on the basic fundamentals.
Keep an eye on:
Hersek outmuscled many of his rivals by delivering nice aggressiveness the on court, but he also has some valuable skills, such as an effective jumper out to the three-point line and the capacity to score from mid-range off the dribble. He also has the ability to put the ball on the floor to attack his rivals, and a resemblance of a (limited) post game. Hes a bit of a more bulky but less refined (both skill-wise and athletically) version of Dasic.
Surrounded by terrific players, Kim Tillie was one of the garbage men for the French team. An excellent rebounder, hes a very athletic 6-9 power forward, a guy with a very good frame, terrific legs and a decent mid-range jumper. The problem is that his skills dont really go much further. At least hes hard-working and intense, but hes just a nice physical profile who might evolve into something interesting. Tillie will be playing with the Utah Utes in the NCAA.
Pablo Aguilar was a bit of similar player in Spain, in the sense that hes another 6-9 athletic power forward (although he was forced to play full-time center) who delivers intensity, restless defense and uses a jumper as his best scoring weapon. Still, Aguilar is a noticeably more polished and smart guy. His shot is a lot more solid, with range out to the 3-point line. He can score in the low post with simple moves and semi-hooks. He understands the game very well, and seems to always be in the right place. He needs to improve his ball skills to take his game to a new level, otherwise, he would probably end up as a complementary player who is very limited skill-wise and not that physically gifted.
Yevgeniy Larin is the power forward version of his Ukrainian small forward teammate Polyezhayev, meaning that hes another long and extremely raw physical specimen, although he shows less polished skills. Probably due to his skinny body, he appears to be more of face-up guy, being able to put the ball on the floor and showing an improvable mid-range stroke. Hes listed at 6-10, but could be taller.