This past Sunday the FIBA U19 tournament in Crete wrapped up with a US victory over a good Croatia team. Coming into the tournament I was most excited about getting to watch Croatia play the US due to the matchup between the US’s star-studded roster and Dragan Bender, a potential top-5 pick in next year’s draft. Unfortunately, due to a sneaker dispute between Bender and the Croatian team he didn’t play in the tournament. Nonetheless, there were still a fair amount of prospects I was interested in on the US, Greek, Croatian, Spanish, Chinese, and Turkish teams. For some of these guys I didn’t pay much attention to them while they were on the court, and others I watched every single minute of in this tournament attentively. Part 1 is on the non-team USA guys, part 2 will cover team USA and include rankings for the whole group.
Potential Future Second Rounders: Amongst the non-USA guys Yankuba Sima (Spain) is a really athletic big who can block shots and finish at the rim, but is a bit undersized for a center and lacks feel for the game. He only shot 57% from the line, but he’s got solid form and did make two threes so if he drastically improves his shooting he could be really intriguing. His athleticism is impressive enough that he’ll probably draw looks from NBA teams either way. Marc Garcia (Spain) has a good feel for attacking the basket and getting to the line, but he can’t score efficiently from anywhere on the floor and lacks the athleticism to be an impact defender. He’s got a reputation as a shooter that would give him a good offensive package, but until he starts actually making outside shots he’s not a very interesting prospect. He’s got good instincts and feel on both ends, but still profiles as a negative on each end of the floor for now. Yanhao Zhao (China) has a good combination of ball handling, shooting, and decent athleticism to be a good shot-creating wing at this level, and a potentially good offensive wing down the road at the highest level. He’ll need to bulk up his frame and get his outside shot more consistent if he wants to find a lasting role in the NBA, but he’s seemingly got the quicks and skill to fit in.
Potential First Round/Likely Second Rounders: Tyler Dorsey (Greece) was only ranked 38th in ESPN’s top-100 HS seniors, but he seemingly broke out playing for the Greek squad at this tournament. He’s not going to be an elite athlete at the NBA level, but he’s a very well-rounded one who has straight line speed, quickness, vertical explosion, and even some strength. He’s got a combo guard type game on the offensive end with a good pull-up J, the speed to get to the hoop frequently, and really good cutting instincts. During the tournament he garnered a reputation as a great defender; I didn’t think he was that impressive, but he was definitely solid on that end. He doesn’t play with enough poise and leadership to be a point guard, but he’s athletic enough that he could guard 2’s while providing some extra creating punch on the offensive end. He’ll step into Joseph Young’s role at Oregon nicely, and could be anywhere from a late second rounder to a mid first guy eventually. My quick evaluation would probably have him as an early/mid second rounder, but my opinion could easily change after watching more of him in the NCAA.
Despite losing Bender, Croatia’s team still had some interesting prospects, which allowed them to come in second and almost upset the US. Nik Slavica (Croatia) is a dynamic 6’7 wing who’s athleticism really pops off the screen. He puts that athleticism to good use on the defensive end where he has the strength and quickness to guard 1-4, and come up with some impressive takeaways. Offensively he’s not an advanced ball handler and he doesn’t really have range out to the three-point line, but he does a good job using his speed and power to get in the lane where he can either finish impressively or find teammates with some point forward skills. If he can develop a three-point shot Slavica could be a first round talent, but for now he’s essentially a poor man’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and probably a mid-second round type of player. His teammate Marko Arapovic (Croatia) isn’t quite as exciting to watch but is a similar level prospect. He’s not a dangerous threat from outside, but he’s a stretch 4 with some bulk, and though he’s got traditional power forward length, his bulk gives him a chance at guarding the center position well, even if he’s not a great rim protector. On offense, Arapovic has a well-rounded game, scoring on the perimeter, in the post, and doing a good job attacking closeouts in straight lines with good speed. While he has good straight line speed, his quickness on defense isn’t great, and he has more center mobility than stretch forward level. If he were a better shooter or slightly more creative playmaker his offense might outweigh his defense, but he’s probably a net negative player and a mid-second type of prospect.
Joining Arapovic in the front court for Croatia is Ivica Zubac (Croatia), a hulking 7’0 center. Zubac put up impressive numbers during the tournament mostly by bullying 18 and 19-year-olds with his strength and finishing with soft touch. Zubac has a lot of good signs for a young prospect as he kills the offensive glass, has good instincts on D, and is a good passer who rarely turns the ball over despite playing in the post often. Unfortunately, Zubac is a less than impressive athlete laterally and vertically with very little shooting range who relies mostly on his strength at this stage. It’s hard to see his game translating so I would grade him as a late second rounder, but his impressive feel for the game gives some hope he could figure things out and be effective in the league. In addition to Zubac, there were two other intriguing European big man prospects in Georgios Papagiannis (Greece) and Egemen Guven (Turkey).
Papagiannis recently turned down the opportunity to play in the NCAA and is opting for what will be a marginal role on Panathinaikos’s talented team, so this might be the last I really watch him before he enters the draft. He’s got a heavy frame that would suggest he is pretty ground bound, but he is actually a very impressive leaper with the ability to block shots at the rim and finish lobs on the other end. Unlike his jumping, his mobility does fall in line with his frame and Papagiannis will struggle guarding in pick and roll at whatever level he ends up at. On offense, Papagiannis has soft hands and soft touch to go along with a quality jumper that extends to 18 feet. His feel for the game is far behind Zubac, but his much better rim protection and better shooting give him a little more upside, and I’d have him as an early second round talent right now. Guven is much skinnier than the other two, and while his mobility is more impressive than either of them, it would still be below average for an NBA center. He’s a solid leaper, not as impressive as Papagiannis, but he can protect the rim some and finish above it on offense. The thing that stood out to me watching Guven is his impressive touch around the basket, as he used a variety of floaters and push shots to score when he caught the ball near but not at the basket. Overall, Guven is a pretty solid big man prospect with the mobility and length to be a decent defender and good enough feel and touch to be a good player in pick and roll. His skillset isn’t as exciting as Papagiannis, but he looks like an early second or mid second rounder to me.
Potential Lottery Picks: Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey) was the best prospect at this tournament who could go in next year’s draft, and the one I was most intent on watching after Bender was ruled out. Korkmaz doesn’t jump out as a true top-5 level guy, but I could absolutely see him going in the 8-15 range whenever he does declare for the draft. He lacks the type of advanced handle to be a primary scorer as a shooting guard, but he could be a second/third option and has the skill set to be a really positive offensive threat. He doesn’t have the quick, beautiful release of a Korver or Thompson, but he’s right on that next level as a shooter and has shot well at every level of his career. He isn’t just limited to catch and shoot either, he can pull up from three if the defender goes under on pick and roll, and he can pull up in the midrange if he gets his defender backpedalling. Despite lacking a great handle, he is a dangerous player in pick and roll because he’s got a phenomenal first step and point guard level passing vision to go with his shooting. Other than his handle, Korkmaz has a couple slight weaknesses on the offensive end. He has fantastic vision, but the passes he throws are often erratic and sometimes overly ambitious. He is a very good above the rim athlete, but he also struggles a bit finishing around the rim as he lacks the strength to go into defenders and gets too fancy trying to avoid defenders in the air.
The defensive side of the ball is where Furkan’s biggest questions lie. He’s got great instincts and length that he uses to make plays in the passing lanes, but guarding on the ball he can get exposed. His lateral quickness isn’t as good as his first step, and a hunched over stance definitely hurts his ability to guard. When he does stay in front of his man Korkmaz still struggles because defenders can often just power through him, and he really needs to add to his frame. After having only watched highlights leading up to the tournament I’m now officially in on Korkmaz as a late lottery talent in the future. He’s going to be a dangerous enough player spotting up off the ball due to his shooting, first step, and passing that he can survive poor defense, and if he can figure out how to leverage his athleticism and instincts into better on ball defense the late lottery could easily be too low for him.
Part 2 is now live: https://wingspanaddicts.com/2015/07/13/scouting-the-fiba-u19s-part-2-team-usa/