• 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

  • Mikal Bridges
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Mikal Bridges led all Suns reserves in minutes (36) on Thursday and put up 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting, to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

    He's simply outplaying Dario Saric (five points, five rebounds, one trey, one steal, 16 minutes) right now and the extra run on the floor is paying off dividends for managers who held onto Bridges during those lean games. Pick him up if he's been dropped in your league.

  • Devin Booker
    SG, Phoenix Suns

    Devin Booker was relatively quiet on Thursday, recording 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five rebounds, seven assists, two treys and six turnovers in 37 minutes.

    The turnovers were a stinger for his owners in 9-cat leagues and you can credit the Pelicans' feisty defense for more than a few of those. Count it as an off-night for Booker and move on. He should bounce-back to his top-30 form in no time.

  • Tyler Johnson
    PG-SG, Phoenix Suns

    Tyler Johnson started for Ricky Rubio (back) on Thursday and chipped in across the board with six points, five rebounds, four dimes, one trey, two steals and two blocks.

    It was a DFS gem coming from the low-end veteran guard. He is worth streaming while Rubio remains out, but that's the ceiling of his upside in fantasy at this stage of his career.

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. produced a team-high 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-of-9 shooting from the line with six boards, two 3s and four assists in Thursday's loss to the Pelicans.

    Oubre is holding steady as a top-70 play in 9-cat so far this season. His ceiling is somewhere within top-50 value, but as a hot commodity, may cost you an arm and a foot for his services.

  • Jrue Holiday
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Jrue Holiday was one assist shy of a double-double on Thursday as he tallied 23 points (10-of-19 shooting), four rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer, three steals and one block.

    His ability to stuff the stat sheet is at the core of Holiday's fantasy appeal. It appears he's turned the corner from a slow start. Both he and Brandon Ingram are playing well right now, but Zion Williamson could throw a wrench into the vibe once he's back on the court. Now would be an ideal time to sell-high on Holiday if you want to exit your position.

  • E'Twaun Moore
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    E'Twaun Moore chipped in 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five rebounds, three 3s and two assists in 26 minutes in Thursday's win over the Suns.

    Moore has been on the radar in 14-team leagues or deeper for his scoring and 3-point shooting as of late. He will fade as the Pelicans get healthier, but feel free to ride out his run while it lasts.

  • JJ Redick
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    J.J. Redick caught fire in Thursday's win over the Suns, knocking down 5-of-8 shots from deep en route to his 26 points (10-of-14 shooting) with five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

    Redick definitely has some gas left in his tank, scoring 20 points or more in four of his last five games. He's been a top-120 play in 9-cat over the season, so consider selling high now.

  • Brandon Ingram
    SF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Brandon Ingram shook off a slow start in Thursday's 124-121 win over the Suns to finish with 28 points (9-of-19 shooting), eight rebounds, five assists, three 3s, one steal and two blocks in 33 minutes.

    Ingram is back to his early-season form and delivering across the board in impressive fashion. He appears on track to sustain his production, as is, but a returning Zion Williamson could muddle things for sure.

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Lonzo Ball (right adductor strain) played 19 minutes off the bench in his return to action on Thursday, posting eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with two 3s, one rebound and five assists.

    Considering it was Ball's first game back in over two weeks, it was not a bad showing. He should eventually return to the starting lineup and see his minutes restriction eased and then later lifted as he gets his legs back. For now, you can bench him until he's back at full strength. Good news is the wait might not be too long.

  • Skal Labissiere
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Skal Labissiere had a huge night on Thursday with a season-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and five blocks as the Blazers lost 137-129 against the Bucks.

    Labissiere was huge partially due to Hassan Whiteside's absence, but we have to give him a lot of credit. Not only was it a season high in points for Skal, but also in rebounds and blocks. Additionally, he hit his first two 3-pointers of the season. It was an all-around gem from him and he should really be on radars going forward because of the lack of depth up front for the Blazers even when Whiteside is healthy.