FC Barcelona

The Spanish dominance continues at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament. After Real Madrid took the first qualifier, it was Barcelona’s turn to come away victorious in Belgrade. Barcelona controlled the action right from the first game and took command of the final early, leaving Milan behind. The MVP was Kasparas Jakucionis, in his second appearance in a qualifier. Had his best game in the final, but was pretty consistent throughout the tournament with the way he made plays for himself and others. A point guard with great size that doesn’t commit many errors and can score inside and out while keeping his teammates involved is not easy to find at this age. And that is why Jakucionis is one of the most intriguing prospects in Europe right now. Playing just below 25 minutes a game, his stat line is even more impressive: 17.0 points per game (66.7% from two and 30.4% from three, plus 100% on almost 7 attempts from the free-throw line per game), 7-5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals. His rim finishing was elite in Belgrade, due to his great use of decelerations and ability to adjust his body in the air. Jakucionis is such a composed guard, never looking to force and selecting the timings of his penetrations well. The way he plays pick and rolls and finds teammates rolling or waiting on the perimeter for their opportunity can’t be overlooked as well and, although he didn’t shoot the ball as well as in other occasions, he didn’t hesitate. He took the shots he had to and those are great signs. His defense flew a bit under the radar, but he was as aggressive and difficult to leave behind as always. His reach outs in particular were great.

Dame Sarr continues to provide flashes of elite next-level scoring. He was basically unstoppable when attacking the rim, mainly because of his athleticism and quickness to get around defenders. His outside shot didn’t fall as he had hoped, but as it happened in Jakucionis’ case, theres no reason to panic. He shot with confidence, got to his spots and just the thought of him shooting the ball had defenses scrambling, which opened up avenues to the rim. With 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals, his work doing “the other things” has to be noted. Much more of a ball mover, he didn’t force as much as in other occasions and was a tough opponent for attackers with his length and mobility. Quicker reads, higher understanding of opposing offenses tendencies and a bigger participation in the defensive process. For 2008-born Sayon Keita, this was the perfect event to showcase his potential. A long, athletic big man who can jump out of the arena and create highlights out of nothing. 12.0 points and 10.5 (including 5.0 offensive) rebounds, acting as a great lob threat and glass cleaner. Provided some great rim and paint protection, by being able to move fluidly around the paint and bother any shot in his vicinity. Finished with 3.5 blocks and many other shots he altered with his presence at 6’11 and a plus wingspan. The other option at center for Bar莽a was 2009 Abdrahamane Kone. A strong body, very tough to stop inside the paint, with a big frame. Good rolling target who will absorb contact and finish anyway. Mathieu Grujicic was Barcelona’s third best scorer. A difficult player to stop in transition, he was always looking for opportunities to run out and make plays at the rim. Shot the ball really well from outside at three attempts per game, which is encouraging considering his difficulties finishing inside in the half court. Still with one year of ANGT ahead of him, Same thing can be said of 6’9 Arturas Butajevas. The Lithuanian wing provided shooting and the occasional transition bucket or easy layup when the defense closed out too hard. Shot 38.5% from three and also dished out 2.2 assists, which is impressive given that he’s not a ball handler. But his potential as a spot up shooter (and some movement and even pull up shooting) shined through in Belgrade.

EA7 Emporio Armani Milan

On my ANGT preview, I wrote that last year’s underwhelming performance shouldn’t translate to this season’s qualifier. Still, Milan exceeded all expectations by getting to the final, on the shoulders of Denis Badalau, the Romanian forward who’s one of the most athletic players of his generation in Europe. Capable of running out in transition for easy buckets or cut through the defense for inside finishes. Had 21.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals, adding a bit of outside shooting to his repertoire. At 6’8 and with his mobility and leaping ability, he’s a great option to have on the wing.

Despite his struggles against Barcelona, Samuele Miccoli was once again a big part of what Milan did. A patient playmaker that can get to the rim and make some tough shots inside, but also stop behind the three-point line and shoot with confidence. And don’t forget his 5.8 assists, always ready to share the ball, finding cutters and going for quick hit-aheads that resulted in some easy points for his colleagues. Tha all-around play of Diego Garavaglia propelled Milan to a different level in Belgrade. Good finisher inside, with some struggles shooting the ball. Really good reading plays on the short roll and around the free-throw area, plus a strong showing on the defensive end. Held his own on the wing, forced turnovers, altered shots and put pressure on and off the ball. Achille Lonati only started two games, but was a noticeable presence for Milan. With his calm demeanor, was always effective at setting the tempo of the game, getting inside to finish or finding teammates. Tight handle and great decision making with the ball in his hands. Andrija Josovic started and finished the tournament on a high note. Shot 37.5% from three on 4 attempts per game and was a constant presence on the boards. At 6’7, has the size and shooting to be a good floor spacer that goes after offensive rebounds and cuts behind the defense for easy finishes.


The 6’4 guard Savo Drezgic came back for one last dance at the Adidas Next Generation and with fantastic results. Guided Partizan to a third place finish with 19.2 points and 5.2 assists, doing a little bit of everything on offense. Shot 66.7% from two and 35% from three on high volume, getting to the rim off pick and rolls and creating some shots off the post. Able to shoot off the catch or the dribble, his improvement in this area make him one of the highly-touted prospects his age. Keeps the ball on a string, low dribble and great reads, gifting rollers with passes that put them in great positions to score. Works well as an initiator who gets everyone in their place.

One of the most intriguing players in the tournament was big man Aleksa Dimitrijevic. The 7 footer had 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, shooting 58.1% from two and 40% from three on more than two attempts per game. More comfortable creating from the post and finishing plays as a roller or cutter, but someone who can step pout on the perimeter and shoot the ball and attack closeouts at times. Had some great moments as a rim protector. Good instincts and mobility, knows when to go and contest a shot and finished with 2 blocks per game. Positively surprised by 2007-born Aleksandar Goljovic and his off-ball activity. Constantly moving, understands where the open space is and gives ball handlers excellent passing options. Lacked in efficiency, but at 6’5 and the floor reading he showed without the ball, there’s clear potential in him. Uros Danilovic was impressive as a driver and cutter, getting straight to the rim after the catch and finishing with great body control around the basket. A 6’8 wing with great balance and the ability to twist his body and escape shot blockers.

Next Generation Team Belgrade

No one helped his stock in Belgrade quite like Aleksa Stanojevic. A versatile scorer at 6’8, he was efficient throughout the three days, shooting 53.3% from two and 44.4% from three. Got to the line at a good rate as well. He was a difficult man to stop because he can go to so many different options offensively, his size and mobility allow him to beat bigger guys, but he doesn’t fear contact and can finish through it. Patient with the ball in his hands, with intriguing footowork. Solid rebounder and an impressive rim protector, with great instincts and timing his jumps well.

Neoklis Avdalas arrived in Belgrade as the main guy for the select team, but the impressions he left were a bit mixed. His main virtues were there, finding teammates with advanced reads, getting shooters and rollers in great positions, while showing what he can do defensively. Put pressure on the ball, was a great helper and back side rotator and had some impressive athletic plays. But at the same time, he was way too eager on the scoring end. Forced drives against set defenses, took ill-advised threes and that ended up hurting his efficiency. It’s good that he’s looking more for his shot – and playing for a team with no routines isn’t easy – but he’s usually more selective and his eagerness to show improvement got the best of him in that regard. Still a huge talent with elite reading of the floor. Tymoteusz Sternicki, on the other hand, impressed with his shooting efficiency. A floor spacer who can hit shots off the catch and off movement, able to attack closeouts and find ways to get some easy baskets inside, Sternicki finished with 66.7% from two and 35% from three. Highly active on the defensive end, with a high IQ and good floor coverage, finished with 3.8 stocks per game, but his impact on that end went way beyond the numbers. Encouraging signs shooting the ball by Imran Suljanovic. The Austrian wing hit 35% from three on five attempts per game, with a quicker motion and more comfort to catch and go up in rhythm. Had some problems dealing with size as a finisher at the rim, but it’s good to see him improve outside the perimeter. Eurohoops Showcase alum Ivaylo Skrinski had an uneven performance, but with some good moments. Much like the select team. Good finisher inside, has great touch, avoids rim protectors by getting a shot up early. Struggled with efficiency as an outside shooter, playing more off the ball than he’s used to. Usually much more of a pull up shooter, but turned into a spot up one with the composition of the team. Still impressed with the way he can score at the basket.

Mega MIS

Abdramane Siby is the main name to remember for Mega. A dominant big man, able to create off the post and an excellent lob and rolling target at 7’0, Siby offers a lot of what teams are looking for from the center position. Scored 18.5 points on 75% (!) from two, a sign of clear dominance in the paint. His mobility and fluidity at his size was second to none in Belgrade, combined with a quick leaping ability that makes him so hard to guard inside. He also tried to step out in some possessions, hitting two of the six threes he tried, while getting to the free-throw line a lot. He’s not a knock down shooter, but has potential as a solid shooter from mid-range who can hit some threes, which would be huge. And I didn’t even get to his defense yet. Great floor coverage using his mobility, capable of defending in drop and switching some plays with rim protection prowess. Finished the qualifier with 2.8 blocks and 1.8 steals and a plethora of altered shots.

Siby’s frontcourt partner was Ognjen Nikolic, who provided some intriguing finishing and passing as a forward. Goes a bit under the radar, but he is a really effective player who does his job well and doesn’t need the ball in his hands a lot of the time to contribute. Finished with 12.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists, finishing well inside on cuts and rolls and stepping outside for a few threes (44.4% on more than two attempts a game). Liked the way he combined with Siby and his synergy with another inside player, how he can play with and off of him. An all-around scoring performance from Aleksandar Vojinovic, who finished the Belgrade qualifier with 18.0 points. Shot 48% from two and 38.5% from three, while getting to the line more than seven times per game. Great shooter off the catch who can handle the ball and play pick and rolls, where he’s able to get to the basket or pull up when the defense gives him space. Really good at shielding his shot on his way to the basket. Added 2.5 assists, keeping the ball moving and finding open teammates when the defense collapsed on him. Also in focus was Ognjen Srzentic, whose numbers don’t really capture his impact. A consistent driver at 6’8, gets to the rim off pick and rolls or off his own creation and finds open shooters and cutters. gets deep in the paint to force help before finding an open teammate and can finish through contact. Didn’t shoot well but has the potential to be a serviceable scorer off the catch as well. Puts pressure on and off the ball on defense, never stops working, forcing a ton of turnovers and bad decisions. Luka Solomun‘s name shouldn’t go unnoticed. Hit a third of his threes on more than five attempts per game and was efficient when he attacked closeouts, with 57.9% from two. Good ball mover as well who played within the flow of the offense and usually made the right decision, with and without the ball.

Crvena Zvezda

It was a learning experience for a young Crvena Zvezda team, that had in a 6’6 wing their main man. Andrej Kostic was impressive in Belgrade, with 24.2 points per game on the back of 61.1% inside the arc. An incredible inside finisher, tough to stop when he has some balance going inside, with great body control and overall athleticism when finishing at the rim. His 30.6% on high volume (nine attempts a game) from three are more encouraging than worrisome. The usage he had, the attention he received was high and he was still able to get his shot off, both after the catch or the dribble. Having a player who can shoot like that while also being a great driver is not normal and that makes Kostic such a special prospect. Also really good at drawing fouls with the way he can contort his body and protect his shot at the basket. His job was to score and play passing lanes on the defensive side and that was exactly what he did.

6’11 Stefan Marjanovic had some pretty interesting moments. Still growing into his body, he showed great touch in the post and at the basket and forced opposing defenses to send him to the line a ton. Showed some range when he stepped out, with no hesitation. High IQ player, knew how to get out of traps. Andrej Lucic had 10.2 points and 2.5 assists. Looked to get everyone involved and was really hard to stop on drives. Strong frame to keep defenders on his side and great ability to get his shot up before a shot blocker could get to it. High pressure on the defensive end with a lower center of gravity. Another interesting ball handler for Crvena Zvezda was Petar Radovic, who finished with 11.5 points and 3.0 assists. Quick driver, tried to be more of a distributor by getting inside, but had insane efficieny numbers when finishing: 75% on twos, despite the low volume. Patient, only got to the basket when he found opening he could explore. Good defensive reads to come away with 2 steals per game.

Hapoel Yehuda Tel Aviv

Hapoel beat Maccabi in the last game in the Israeli duel. 6’0, 2008-born guard Ari Amiel was probably the most consistent performer on the team, finishing with 11.8 points, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals. Quick with the ball in his hands, can change ends quickly and doesn’t commit too many turnovers. Can get inside and finish amongst rim protectors but it’s outside where he provides the best part of his game. Shot 45.5% on almost three attempts per game, mostly off the catch. Finds teammates in transition and is a pesky defender, always looking for ways to create turnovers.

Some problems finishing plays for Joul Karram, who was still a plus for Hapoel. Great leaper, he’s at his best as a roller. Shows good spatial awareness inside, knows when to cut or when to stay in position. Had some interesting reads as a passer and protected the rim using his size (6’10) and verticality. Alon Rachlin provided scoring versatility, able to switch up between going inside or shooting from three. Wasn’t particularly efficient, but shot with confidence and an interesting form. Struggled more due to the high pace of the game, but can be a great weapon shooting the ball, both off the catch or off movement. Had some instances as a ball handler playing the pick and roll, with some great reads passing the ball or using his shooting gravity to get to the basket.

Maccabi Tel Aviv

A lot of on-ball repetitions for Omer Mayer, who dictated everything Maccabi did and finished with 19.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.2 steals. Showed he’s a level or two above most guys he faced already, finishing at a 58.8% clip inside the three-point line. Started the tournament shooting well from three, but fatigue caught up to him. Still, he’s always a weapon off the dribble or off the catch. But getting back to his inside finishing, he was really hard to stop 1-on-1 or on pick and rolls due to his low stance when dribbling, use of hesitations and decelarations and his acrobatic finishing inside. Gets his defender on his back and from there, he’s so hard to stop. Great playmaker, created for others as well, finding rollers, cutters or shooters. Was a bit more decisive with the ball in his hands than on some previous tournaments. Playing already above the U18 level, it was clear he had an advantage on the defensive end in terms of quickness and body.

Yaron Goldman had the highest-scoring game of the Belgrade qualifier with a 42-point explosion against the Next Generation select team. But that was the only game where he hit threes. And it’s clear he can hit them, just got caught up with tired legs. Alongside Mayer, he used the attention given to his teammate to attack pockets of space off the catch and was a good ball distributor. Quick guard, that got to the paint or the area around the FT line well to find opportunities for himself and others. Should be more of an outside shooting threat and showed glimpses of that. ~The mobility of 6’9 Tamir Gold cannot be forgotten. Hit 57.1% of his shots inside the arc, with excellent movement off the ball and some moments as a driver. Always put himself in great position to collect offensive boards, with 1.8 of his 4.2 rebounds coming on the offensive end. Born in 2007, he’s still a player in development, but had really great flashes.