• Hello Hoop Ballers and welcome back to our offseason International Spotlight feature. The NBA offseason has been quiet the last couple weeks and I had the opportunity to visit my homeland and specifically the city of Volos in Greece where the U-18 European Championship took place. The mountainous area of Volos is famous from Greek mythology as it is the birthplace of the legendary Centaurs. The organizing committee capitalized on the opportunity to come up with a beautiful logo for the tournament:

    FIBA ran a couple of simultaneous tournaments for the U-18 teams as there is a Division A and a Division B competition due to the plethora of participating countries. Some of the best basketball prospects gathered in two different countries as Spain won the A Division in Volos, Greece and Israel won the B Division, which was played in Oradea, Romania.

    A few college coaches were present in their continuous effort to recruit the best available international talent, with Juwan Howard (Michigan), Dusty May (Florida Atlantic) and Tavaras Hardy (Loyola) all taking a seat courtside.

    The MVP

    Santiago Aldama, 18 years old, SF, Spain, Committed to Loyola Maryland

    18.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals, 2.3 triples and 2.3 blocks in 28.1 minutes

    Santi led his team to the gold medal and distinguished himself as the most complete prospect at his age. The Spaniard has good size and athleticism while his length allows him to play the power forward position at stretches. His versatility is special as he can shoot the three or dominate against bigger opponents in the paint while he is an above-average rebounder as well.

    Aldama has grown up idolizing Pau Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro and it’s clear that the kid has a great feel for the game. I’m looking forward to watching him develop next year in the collegiate level while he will be closely monitored by NBA teams.

    The All-Tournament Team

    Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos, 18 years old, SF, Greece, AEK B.C.

    11.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 triples in 30.4 minutes

    Rogkavopoulos is a lanky kid with the ability to create his own shot from anywhere on the floor and he led a Greek team that overachieved and finished fourth in the tournament. He was able to create separation against most defenders but settled for the outside shot when he got tired.

    A smart prospect who knows how to use screens to his advantage, he also showed flashes of passing skill. Rebounding needs to improve and defense is not where coaches want it to be but the combination of size, quickness and shooting versatility have put him on the NBA radar already. Rog is an integral part of one of the Greek powerhouses and he has gained far more experience playing at the highest level than many of the kids his age.

    Ziga Samar, 18 years old, PG, Slovenia, Real Madrid of Liga ACB

    11.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.3 triples in 31.6 minutes

    Samar was by far the best floor general of the tournament, leading Slovenia to the third place while averaging more assists by any other player. He is a modern playmaker who has been building his game on the footsteps of Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic but he doesn’t have the size to play off-ball. He recently got promoted to the main squad of Real Madrid and a lot is expected from the kid next year when he will compete for minutes in Europe’s best domestic league and in the EuroLeague.

    Usman Garuba, 17 years old, C, Spain, Real Madrid of Liga ACB

    15.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.1 blocks in 27.7 minutes

    Garuba dominated the interior and literally had no one that could guard him across the entire competition. He is not only a strong kid but a very smart individual who understood positioning and was able to read plays and make defensive contributions against top talent. He is also going to play for Real Madrid next year and it will be interesting to see if he is able to develop any kind of an outside shot.

    Alperen Sengun, 17 years old, PF, Turkey, Bandirma Kirmizi of Turkish League

    11.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.7 blocks in 23 minutes per game

    The Turkish guard was one of the highlights of the championship after scoring 28 points in his second game against the team of Germany. Sengun is a traditional power forward who took advantage of his quickness and was able to hit the mid-range shot consistently. He is not an elite athlete and might have to adjust playing as the small forward if he doesn’t grow more but the fundamentals are there and the future looks promising for him.

    Other Elite Talent

    Moussa Diabate, 17 years old, PF, France

    11.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.2 blocks in 26.5 minutes per game

    Diabate was the best player on a loaded French team that disappointed and ended up getting eliminated in the Semifinals. The 6’9” forward was very active on both sides of the floor, taking advantage of his quickness and athleticism and creating matchup problems as teams had to double-team him occasionally. He is currently being recruited by Florida State, Michigan and a few more programs and I can already see a clear path to the NBA for him.

    Tibet Gorener, 17 years old, SF, Turkey, Montverde Academy (US)

    8.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.0 triples in 22.8 minutes per game

    Gorener was another integral piece of a Turkish team that, in my eyes, deserved to win the tournament due to its consistency across the entire event. The Turkish guard is a modern sharpshooter with great size who should develop into a nice prospect in the coming years. His has a beautiful stroke and a quick release while it’s obvious that he is trying to mimic Steph Curry’s shooting range, not hesitating to launch his shot from anywhere in the court. He is currently being recruited by Nebraska and UCSB.

    Franz Wagner, 17 years old, SG, Germany, University of Michigan

    13.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.5 triples in 20.8 minutes

    Franz Wagner, Mo Wagner’s little brother, was one of the kids most scouts had their eyes on in the tournament. A shooting guard with great size for his position, he had a slow start with a minor injury that caused him to miss a game in the preliminary round, but his performance improved and he showed great maturity and basketball IQ for his size. Wagner likes to create for his teammates but he is also able to take over the scoring burden when needed, and even though he didn’t shoot the ball well from behind the arc his stroke is solid.

    Tristan Enaruna, 18 years old, SF, Netherlands, Kansas

    19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks in 33.4 minutes per game

    Netherlands was never considered to be a favorite in the tournament but Enaruna was a bright spot, scoring more points than any player in the event with 134. He is another big versatile forward who already has the size to compete with bigger bodies and can score efficiently. His versatility is intriguing as he can score in a variety of ways and even possesses range while he doesn’t neglect to rebound and was a positive on the other side of the floor as well.

    Samson Ruzhentsev, 17 years old, SF, Russia,

    12.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.2 steals and 1.0 triple in 22.1 minutes per game

    Russia was pretty much a disappointment in the tournament and Ruzhentsev lacked the necessary consistency even though his scoring ability and potential was on display. He has great size at 6’7” and likes to attack the rim and shoot from deep, even though he struggled with his percentages in Volos. The Russian swingman is being recruited by Ole Miss, Florida, Illinois, TCU, Oregon, Georgia Tech and a bunch of other schools.

    Adem Bona, 16 years old, C, Turkey, Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir

    4.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 18.5 minutes per game

    One of the most sensational prospects of the tournament was clearly Nigerian-born Adem Bona who played limited minutes but showed tremendous defensive instincts. The kid is only 16 but has long arms and exceptional quickness for his size, making him a name that NBA scouts already have in their plans. Bona clearly lacks the awareness to play team basketball and only had a few highlights as a help defender so it will be interesting to see how he develops playing for one of the second-tier basketball clubs of Turkey.

    The Second Tier

    Princeton-bound Tosan Evbuomwan from Great Britain impressed with his size, length and versatility, while Drexel commit Mate Okros is a long-range shooter with size.

    Slovenian Maj Dusanic, a versatile and hard-playing forward who can guard multiple positions proved to be a capable shot blocker and an efficient scorer in the paint.

    Jamie Bergens from Netherlands played a lot with the ball in his hands mixing scoring and facilitating.

    Pelle Larsson of Sweden helped his stock as much as anyone in the B Division, averaging 15.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists and he is currently being recruited by Stanford, BYU, San Diego, UCSB, Western Kentucky, UC Davis, Florida Atlantic, LMU and Cincinnati. He is a big combo guard with a strong frame and a high basketball IQ that allows him to play off ball often while he can score or create for his teammates.

    Rati Andronikashvili of Georgia is a natural point guard with impressive vision and the necessary length to compensate for the lack of a strong frame. His jumper is still questionable but he showed an ability to finish through contact adoring the basket.

    Some other names to keep an eye on were Matej Rudan of Croatia, France’s Malcolm Cazalon and Juhann Begarin, Ariel Hukporti and Len Schoormann of Germany, Lithuania’s Augustas Marciulionis, Bojan Tomasevic of Montenegro, Djordje Pazin of Serbia and Turkey’s Mustafa Kurtuldum.

    Here is the top-10 of the tournament in Volos:

    Thank you for reading this week’s article and please make sure to check us again in the next couple weeks where we will be previewing the FIBA World Cup which is set to take place in China at the end of the month. Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.

Fantasy News

  • Dragan Bender
    PF, Golden State Warriors

    Dragan Bender is available to make his Warriors debut on Sunday vs. the Pelicans.

    Bender officially signed with the Warriors and he's looking to suit up tonight against the Pelicans. He's still not worth owning anywhere and this whole Warriors team is a dumpster-fire this year.

    Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter

  • Markelle Fultz
    PG, Orlando Magic

    Markelle Fultz (cramp in left calf) has been fully cleared for Monday's game vs. the Nets.

    Fultz dropped one of his best games of the season on the Nets back in early January when he had 25 points. He's been a top-110 guy over the past month and is well worth owning everywhere.

    Source: John Denton on Twitter

  • Elfrid Payton
    PG, New York Knicks

    Elfrid Payton (sore right ankle) is being listed as questionable vs. the Rockets on Monday.

    This ankle has been bothering him for the past couple of games and it caused him to completely miss Friday's matchup vs. the Pacers. Stay tuned for updates closer to tip-off.

    Source: NY Knicks PR on Twitter

  • Frank Ntilikina
    PG, New York Knicks

    Frank Ntilikina (sore groin) is being listed as questionable for Monday's game vs. the Rockets.

    Payton was dealing with a sore right ankle which caused him to miss practice on Saturday and now his groin is also bothering him. Stay tuned for updates closer to tip-off but if he does suit up he'll be worth playing seeing as he's been an upper mid-round guy as of late.

    Source: NY Knicks PR on Twitter

  • Mitchell Robinson
    C, New York Knicks

    Mitchell Robinson (sprained left ankle) is being considered probable coming into Monday's game vs. the Rockets.

    He didn't practice on Saturday so it's good to see that he's made enough progress to play just two days later. Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis will take the biggest dip in minutes with Robinson returning.

    Source: NY Knicks PR on Twitter

  • Ben Simmons
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Ben Simmons is scheduled for an MRI on his back after leaving Saturday's game.

    Simmons lasted just five minutes in Saturday's game after missing Thursday's contest, and was reportedly emotional after leaving the X-ray room in Milwaukee. The Sixers have some level of concern over this problem, but fantasy GMs will just have to sit tight and hope for the best. Alec Burks, Furkan Korkmaz and Raul Neto are the most likely beneficiaries if Simmons has to miss time but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

    Source: ESPN

  • Robin Lopez
    C, Milwaukee Bucks

    Robin Lopez made a splash off the bench for the Bucks on Saturday, chipping in 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including two 3s, plus one assist and one block.

    Lopez has not made any significant impact in fantasy prior to this solid outing, so he can be left on the worse for now.

  • Eric Bledsoe
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Eric Bledsoe had a productive outing in Saturday’s win over the Sixers with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, adding eight assists, two treys and four rebounds.

    Bledsoe has been looking good as of late, having stabilized with reliable value. The Bucks are in cruise control right now and Bledsoe owners can confidently keep him slotted into their active lineups in all formats.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo went HAM on the Sixers on Saturday to lead the Bucks to a 119-98 victory over the Sixers with 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting, adding 17 rebounds, eight assists, two 3s and one block.

    For whatever reason, Giannis loves stomping on the Sixers and gaudy lines like this have been the norm. This a top-end line from him, but we’re sure no one’s gonna complain outside of Sixers fans.

  • Shake Milton
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Shake Milton saw some extra run on Saturday with Ben Simmons going down, erupting for 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including five triples and two assists.

    It was a one-dimensional game from Milton but it was good enough for boost in points, threes and FG tonight. Keep an eye on him as a potential add if Simmons misses multiple games.