By Davide Bortoluzzi
Alessandro Gentile has been considered as an NBA prospect since he was 16, while he was dominating Italian youth championships with Benetton Treviso junior teams. But there have been several concerns regarding his temper and attitude, since he had the tendency to lose control in high pressure situations arguing with referees and opponents. Plus, at that time his conditioning wasn’t excellent with some baby fat limiting his explosiveness and quickness.
At the beginning of 2011/2012 season he showed himself at Benetton Treviso training camp in perfect physical conditions, ready to compete with an important role under coach Sasha Djordjevic, before being sold to Armani Jeans Milan at the middle of the year due to the financial issues of his former team. This season he struggled at the beginning with a shoulder injury who forced him to stay sidelined for a period, but in the last part of the Italian league he elevated his performances, becoming one of the team leaders (a season high of 25 points against Lenovo Cantù). With this premises he started his first experience in an official senior competition with Italian national team, when he was expected to give a concrete contribution starting from the bench. The result was far away from the most optimistic previsions, in fact Gentile played a key role in a team that reached quarterfinals, closing the tournament as Italian scoring leader with 14.2 points, to which he added 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
In a list of potential NBA prospects that included Dario Saric, Bogdan Bogdanovic and many others, Gentile has been without any doubt the best performer, both from the statistical and technical standpoint.
During this Eurobasket we could have been spectators of a crucial turning point of Gentile’s career, since he showed the capability to put his talent at the service of the team, limiting the excesses that have been flawed the initial part of his professional career. His self-confidence and his poise in clutch situations were part of the success of Italian team during the first part of the tournament, where he was the most consistent offensive weapon.
With his 6’7” big frame he attacks the rim with great aggressiveness, showing a remarkable ability to withstand contacts and to conclude even in situations of limited balance. This aspects combined with a complete offensive repertoire, based on pull up jumpers, fakes, use of pivot foot and the effectiveness in exploiting his body even in post position make him potentially one of the most dominant players in Europe for at least the next 10 years . Plus he has a superior game comprehension, which is only partially limited by his bad temper, in fact he was nurtured in an elite context from this standpoint, having a model like his father Ferdinando, one of the best Italian players ever, and including his father’s teammates and coaches, like Bogdan Tanjevic.
There are still some doubts about his potential as an NBA prospect, first of all his shot mechanics, which limits the consistency and the confidence in his shot, especially from midrange. Plus his lack of athleticism and explosiveness would limit his potential impact overseas, since most of his game is currently based on overpowering smaller or slower defenders. The other two aspects are the same as always, his shot selection and his attitude, since his overconfidence leads to bad choices and discussions with referees and opponents, but during this Eurobasket these are the issues where he showed the biggest improvements.
Alessandro Gentile is certainly one of the best European prospects facing next NBA draft, with his stock having significantly risen after the breakout performance in Slovenia.
Twitter of the author: @theref140386
Photo: FIBA Europe / Castoria - Ceretti