ANGT Finals players to watch

May 09, 2016 by David Hein, Print
ANGT Finals players to watch

After his name appeared in this space one year ago, Luka Doncic went on to lead Real Madrid to the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT championship, earn tournament MVP honors and become a regular for Madrid’s senior squad this season. Doncic is just the latest example of how great a stepping stone this event can be, with such a high quality of talent on display every year at the ANGT Finals. Here’s a primer on which future stars to follow in Berlin.

U18 FC Barcelona Lassa: Sergi Martinez

Martinez is playing his first ANGT this season. He played a major role in getting Barcelona to the ANGT L’Hospitalet final by averaging 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The Barcelona native, who is a year younger than the rest of the competition, also helped Barcelona win this season’s Spanish U18 national championship by averaging 10.8 points and 10 rebounds in the finals. Martinez, whose older brother David also plays in the Barcelona system, played the last two summers for Spain at the FIBA U16 European Championship. He averaged 21.3 points, 11 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game last summer. Martinez has solid size and build for both forward positions, though he might be a small forward later. The 2.01-meter forward has good explosiveness with good lateral speed and is a good rebounder. Martinez can play one-on-one from the outside and also likes to get out in transition.

U18 INSEP Paris: Jaylen Hoard

Hoard is playing in his first ANGT season and averaged 13 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game for INSEP at the ANGT Kaunas. The 2.04-meter wing is considered one of Europe’s top talents in the 1999-born generation. He played for France at last summer’s FIBA U16 European Championship and collected 7.7 points, 4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. The Le Havre native helped France qualify for the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship. Hoard’s mother Katia Foucade played for France at the 1994 World Championship for Women and his godmother is 2001 European champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Edwige Lawson-Wade. Hoard is loaded with athleticism, explosiveness and leaping ability. He is excellent at driving to the rim and finishing. Hoard also likes to get out in transition and play in the open court. When in the half-court offense, he also can find the open player if he drives to the lane. Defensively, his biggest assets are his size and length, and his wingspan gets him a lot of rebounds.

U18 Mega Bemax Belgrade: Marko Pecarski

Pecarski is considered one of Europe’s top talents from the 2000-born generation and he is playing in his third ANGT season, despite still being two years younger than much of the competition. He played in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 editions for U18 Zemun Belgrade before moving to Mega. He shined with 12.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game as Mega won the ANGT Rome to reach its first ANGT Finals. Pecarski’s father, Miroslav Pecarski, starred for Yugoslavia’s juniors in late 80s and won the 1996 Euroleague with Panathinaikos. The younger Pecarski was born in Gijon, Spain, where his father was still playing in 2000. Pecarski, who helped Mega win the U17 Serbian club title this season, played for Serbia at last summer’s FIBA U16 European Championship and averaged 12 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. The 2.06-meter big man has lots of tools. Pecarski is not overly athletic, but is mobile and well-coordinated. He has an array of moves around the basket and can even step out beyond the three-point line successfully. Pecarski still is working on his defense, but he uses his smarts to get in good position.

U18 Zalgiris Kaunas: Arnas Velicka

Velicka is playing his second ANGT season and was named to the All-Tournament Team for Zalgiris in winning the 2015-16 ANGT Kaunas by averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The 1999-born point guard collected 18 points and 16 assists in the ANGT Kaunas title game. A 1.92-meter playmaker, he also helped Lithuania to second place at the 2015 FIBA U16 European Championship by averaging 10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The Kaunas native has good size for a playmaker as well as a strong upper body, which allows him to take contact in the lane. Velicka does not have great explosiveness, but he does have good speed. Velicka is a true floor general, who can slash to the rim and has good court vision. He doesn’t shy away from defense, but he still struggles with his shooting.

U18 ALBA Berlin: Philipp Herkenhoff

Herkenhoff is on loan to ALBA for the ANGT Finals and playing in his first ANGT season. He was ALBA’s second-leading scorer at the ANGT Belgrade with 12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.3 steals and 2 blocks per game. The 1999-born forward was one of Germany’s leaders at the 2015 FIBA U16 European Championship, where he averaged 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 1 blocked shot per game. The Mettingen native averaged 15.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks this season for the Artland Young Dragons in the U19 NBBL league. Herkenhoff has good length at 2.05 meters, but still needs to put more weight on his skinny frame. He is playing power forward now, but long term he may be destined for the small forward position, especially if he can improve his outside shooting. Herkenhoff runs the floor well and can finish on the break. He still needs to improve his aggressiveness and confidence, but there is a lot of potential there.

U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius: Aistis Pilauskas

This is the second ANGT campaign for Pilauskas, who also played at the 2013-14 ANGT Kaunas. The 1.88-meter point guard averaged 13 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game for Lietuvos Rytas at this season’s ANGT Kaunas. The Vilnius native played last summer for Lithuania at the FIBA U18 European Championship and averaged 5.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game despite being a year younger than much of the competition and helped Lithuania to a third-place finish. Pilauskas, who has signed a long-term contract with Lietuvos Rytas, is a pesky defender with quick feet on defense. He is a good rebounder from the guard position, aided by his quickness and solid build. Pilauskas has good speed to get to the basket and solid ball-handling skills. Pilauskas also has a good outside shot and he can hit some three-pointers, too.

U18 Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade: Stefan Dordevic

Dordevic is playing his first ANGT season and played a major role in Zvezda winning the ANGT Belgrade title by averaging 15.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 62.1 percent from the field and 85.7% from the free throw line. The 2.03-meter center had his first experience with the Serbian national team by averaging 5.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 13 minutes per game at the 2016 Albert Schweitzer Tournament. Dordevic has been playing basketball seriously for less than two years and moved to Zvezda after a season with second division club Zdravlje Leskovac. He is a couple centimeters shorter than most center prospects, but has a long wingspan. Dordevic is not flashy, but does not do things he cannot do – roaming too far from the basket or handling the ball. He is a great rebounder, especially on the offensive glass. Dordevic also has good shot-blocking instincts. He still gets down on himself when he makes mistakes, but his confidence level is building.

U18 Real Madrid: Samba Ndiaye

Ndiaye is playing in his fourth ANGT season after helping Real Madrid win the ANGT title last season, when he averaged 6.9 points and 10.4 rebounds, including 6 points and 11 rebounds in the Championship Game victory over U18 Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade. The 2.02-meter big man collected 5.6 points and 8.2 rebounds at the 2015-16 ANGT L’Hospitalet, including 7 points and 16 rebounds in the final over U18 Barcelona Lassa. The Senegalese native has also played this season with Madrid’s second team in the EBA and posted 3.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, including a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds against Estudiantes. Ndiaye lives off his defense and rebounding in the paint for the reigning ANGT champion. He is considered to be a tremendous rebounder with his good physique and positioning. He also does a good job on defense thanks to those same traits. Offensively he is still raw, getting most of his points on put-backs from offensive rebounds. Ndiaye does need to improve his shooting from the free throw line.