Baris Hersek, who enjoyed his first real taste of Euroleague competition against Winterthur F.C.Barcelona after going scoreless in two previous games, playing a combined 6 minutes. This time he could stay on the court for 21 minutes, having 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist and 1 block.
He was a solid piece for Efes Pilsen, despite the difficult task that coach Oktay Mahmuti gave him: Hersek, a forward, had to guard Juan Carlos Navarro whenever both shared the floor; a 6-9 guy like the Turkish going against the best scoring guard in Europe, a very quick player, a master of fakes, hesitation moves, jab steps and basically any trick you can think of. The idea was probably to use Herseks nice wingspan on the Spanish player. Still, Navarro pretty much burned Baris whenever he wanted in the first half. However, the Turkish forward showed a very good defensive attitude, and some nice capabilities, materialized later matching up against bigger guys, like Rodrigo de la Fuente. He has good enough lateral quickness to face other small forwards, shows a good level of activity, and his length becomes pretty annoying for the rival. He had a terrific block on de la Fuente behind the three-point line after a quick recovery off a defensive rotation.
On the offensive end, he stayed pretty quiet in the first half, just hanging around the three-point line in case the ball came to him. In the second half, he scored consecutive field goals, the first one with a turnaround jumper in the low post taking advantage of a defensive mismatch (as he was guarded by point guard Jaka Lakovic); in the following possession he netted a spot-up three-pointer with solid mechanics. He tried from the arc a bit later, but wasnt lucky despite looking good on the release. Towards the end of the game he gained activity, cutting and looking for positions near the basket, and ultimately converting some clutch free-throws.
After his performance in the U-18 European Championships last summer, we doubted Herseks ability to play on the wings, but he seems to be proving us wrong. Chances are were dealing with yet another super-sized small forward (he could very well stand 6-10 in shoes) coming from Turkey after the likes of Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova. Hes a big player, yes, and perhaps not a freakish athlete, but he shows good enough mobility on both ends of the court, as well as some intriguing skills. Physically, he can become a very powerful small forward, as he enjoys a terrific frame with broad shoulders and already excellent strength for his age. Besides what he showed against F.C.Barcelona, he can also put the ball on the floor with decent ball-handling skills, particularly with his right hand, and shoot in off-the-dribble fashion from the mid-range area, while he should be able to take more advantage of his length and strength in the low post, even if his footwork is nothing to drool over. He shows a solid basketball IQ and passing ability.
Not an elite prospect, as he probably lacks that extra degree of athleticism that would do wonders helping him to translate his abilities to the next level, hes still a guy to carefully follow, and certainly an intriguing player for the international scene.