Abdoulaye N’Doye – SG – 6’7” – 1998 – Cholet Basket, FRA
The most intriguing talent of the French team, Abdoulaye N’Doye is a 6’7” off-guard with quite some promise. While he is not much of a scorer at this point, he excels in different aspects of the game. Already an elite level defender N’Doye excels both as an on and off the ball defender. He usually makes the right play, while also keeping pressure on his opponent, as he anticipates brilliantly on the defensive end. Displaying a great feel for the game paired with good vision, he is a good passer. Though he won’t blow you away with his passing ability, he tends to make the right pass at the right time. At 2-to-1 his assist to turnover rate is okay, as blunders such as passing the ball to where a teammate was standing occurred a couple times. His jump shot is non-existent at this point and may need a makeover, as he shoots from the very far left side of his face. Also, he has no rhythm on his free throws often already extending his legs before he gets into his set point. Shooting a mere 13.3% from three point range and an abysmal 38.5% from the free throw line, his shooting numbers leave a lot to be desired. On a positive note, N’Doye seems very coachable, often giving positive feedback and body language.
Killian Tillie – PF – 6‘10“ – 1998 – Gonzaga University, USA
The Frenchman, Killian Tillie, really came on late in the tournament after struggling quite a bit early on. Possessing great size and decent athleticism Tillie is quite intriguing. He displays a sound shooting form, although he struggled quite a bit shooting from the perimeter. Improving his percentages will be paramount, as he will have to space the floor effectively in order allow his strengths to come to fruition. Tillie is excellent attacking off of the catch in both pick and pop situations, as well as when receiving a swing pass. Also, he is a good passer, as he finds cutting teammates pretty well and is also a proficient passer in hi-lo situations. Mainly operating without the ball, Tillie cuts into open spaces, creating scoring opportunities for himself and teammates out of thin air. He reacts well to drives and often cuts for dump offs, allowing him to get easy opportunities around the rim. Similarly he creates opportunities for himself by running the floor very hard. On the other end of the floor he is fairly good in PNR situations, showing the ability to move his feet and stay in front of his man. Additionally he fights hard on the glass on both ends, leading to a respectable 8.7 per game mark on the boards.
Enzo Goudou-Sinha – PG – 6‘0” – 1998 – Sluc Nancy Basket, FRA
A complete unknown before the tournament, Enzo Goudou-Sinha turned quite some heads at the tournament. While the French Point Guard has a slender frame with below average size at 6’0, he anticipates well on the defensive end and is able to put an immense amount of pressure ballhandlers at all times due to his excellent lateral speed and constant movement and activity on the ball. On the offensive end Goudou-Sinha is a superb ballhandler, who has a great feel for the game and knows how to change pace effectively. Thereby, allowing him to drive in to the paint consistently. Once he gets in the teeth of the defense he loses his handle far too often, when he picks up his dribble for finishes and passes though. Overall, he is a tough driver though, who uses his vision to create scoring opportunities for his teammates quite often, as he finds cutters and spot up shooters equally well. His shooting stroke is exquisite, as he was able to knock down 44.8% from the three point line on 4.1 attempts per game. His jump shots are all of the spot up variety, as he didn’t take any jumpers of the bounce. Overall Goudou-Sinha is quite interesting and seemingly came out of nowhere.
Isaac Bonga – PG – 6’8” – FRAPORT Skyliners, GER
Isaac Bonga is still extremely intriguing due to his physical tools; however his play has been a mixed bag. The German point guard gives flashes of his capabilities followed by plays that suggest he still has a very long way to go. There were instances he drove the ball very hard with the mindset of scoring the ball, which lead to converting on finishes with a high degree of difficulty, such as a right handed floater going left as he falls out of bounce. Other times he was still not attacking the basket too hard, as he was still searching for passes. This often led to turnovers or missed shots around the rim. His conversion rate of 41.5% is hardly an improvement from previous tournaments. His jump shot is his most urgent deficiency, as he merely made one three pointer in twelve attempts. Bonga did display his above average vision consistently though and showed the ability to cut on an elite level when he does not have the ball in his hands, which is a major improvement. He especially found open spots to cut to against zone defenses. Also, he displayed his superior athleticism with an incredible chase down block, one area of his game he hasn’t unlocked just yet. Very vocal Bonga continuously spoke to his teammates, pointing out what he wants to see on the floor.
Oscar da Silva – SF – 6‘9“ – 1998 – Stanford, USA
The Stanford Cardinal played a decent tournament, showing great promise in quite a few areas again. Very proficient in post ups, especially against smaller defenders, Oscar da Silva was able find back door cutters, as he operated from the block. Also, hitting teammates in stride when having the ball on the perimeter, he displayed he’s quite adept at finding cutters and sees the floor pretty well. Equipped with a high basketball IQ da Silva displayed the ability to cut for easy shot opportunities himself. Also, running the floor hard, he was able to get a pair of dunks in transition. In the half-court offense he mainly played within himself and was able to find numerous opportunities by attacking the closeout, although his shot was hardly a threat throughout the course of the tournament. Though his shooting stroke looks effortless, his shooting numbers were rather low in Egypt. Very encouraging was his willingness to force the issue late in a few close games.
Louis Olinde – SF – 6‘9“ – 1998 – Brose Bamberg, GER
When his role is clearly defined, Louis Olinde is one of the most intriguing prospects, as he finds numerous ways to impact the game. Already an elite cutter, he found opportunities to score around the rim consistently. He converted on 66.7% of his attempts inside the arch, as he was able to continuously get great position near the rim. Olinde is quite adept at cutting in the back of weak side defenders in both the zone and against his man-to-man defender. Active on the glass Olinde often had his hand in plays and forced second opportunities. Defensively his wide reach and long strides allow him to cover a lot of ground, although he is not overly quick. His jump shot and his ballhandling still needs to improve though, as he is not yet very comfortable operating with the ball in his hands.
David Okeke – PF – 6’8” – 1998 – Auxilium Torino, ITA
The Italian/Nigerian forward was the most pleasing news in the Italian roster, a team which was able to end up in second place despite missing a bunch of key players in this generation. At his first ever experience with Italian youth national teams, Okeke ended up as the second best scorer and rebounder for Italy. Okeke is a smooth and explosive athlete with extremely quick feet, and was a key defensive centerpiece for Italy on defense thanks to his length, lateral quickness and recovering ability. On offense he has a physical and athletic profile which would allow him to play at the small forward spot, but was playing power forward and even center for his team all the time: he still lacks properly consistent perimeter skills, and despite being able to hit shots from outside he’s still an inconsistent shooter who’ll need to fix his shooting mechanics. His scoring came mainly in the paint, where he showed solid touch around the rim, high level motor and the ability to knock down mid and short range jumpers at a decent rate.
Tommaso Oxilia – SF – 6’6” – 1998 – Assigeco Piacenza, ITA
Oxilia was the best scorer for the second-placed Italian team, and earned a spot in the All-Tournament Team. A strong small forward who played a good amount of minutes at the power forward spot in small lineups for his team, Oxilia has a strong frame and the ability to play off the dribble to attack the basket. He showed good instincts as a cutter and offensive rebounder, with great timing attacking the rim without the ball, and ended up as Italy’s best scorer and rebounder. Oxilia still lacks a reliable outside shot, as he’s capable to hit some jumper from time to time but has inconsistent mechanics and slow release; he showed to be more comfortable hitting mid and short range jumpers, even creating his own shot.
Lorenzo Bucarelli – SF – 6’5” – 1998 – Cagliari Dinamo Academy, ITA
A strong and mature wing with impressive assertiveness, Bucarelli was the emotional leader for Italy and ended up in the All-Tournament Team. A very vocal player with high level motor, he was everywhere on defense and showed willingness to play physical and throw his body into the competition, providing also countless intangible plays for his team. Bucarelli showed to be comfortable with the ball in his hands, driving hard to the rim, playing some P&R set and finding his teammates with ease in the halfcourt, but he lacks high level scoring talent. He still lacks a reliable outside shot in his game, something that he’ll need to add to maximize his chances as a pro player.
Arnolds Kulboka – SF – 6’9” – 1998 – Capo d’Orlando, ITA
Lithuanian wing Arnoldas Kulboka didn’t have his best tournament in Egypt: he started hot with an impressive shooting performance against Germany (25 points, 5/8 from three), but then went on hitting just 8 of the next 43 triples he took in the tournament, shooting just 25.5% overall and having his worse performance in the key quarterfinal game against Italy. He’s one of the most beautiful shooters to watch, with a clean and consistent form, a quick release and an impressive footwork working off the ball before catching it. But his inability to perform under physical contact is concerning, and he struggles to create off the dribble with consistency. On defense he has quick feet, but he’ll need to be more physical in throwing his body around.
Tadas Sedekerskis – F – 6‘9“ – 1998 – Baskonia, ESP
Sedekerskis was the best performer and the emotional leader for Lithuania in Cairo. He averaged 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 21.9 efficiency, shooting 77.3% in his twos. He looked at times unstoppable when grabbing the defensive rebound and quickly leading the transition off the dribble, and made lot of athletic plays in the paint on offense. In the halfcourt he’s mainly a straight line driver, attacks very hard the closeout and is able to easily make his way to the basket and handle contacts thanks to his strong frame. He’s an explosive finisher who always attacks the basket very hard, and finds good angle to score inside the arc. His main issue was again his outside shot, he looked inconsistent and shot just 5/19 from beyond the arc through seven games. Overall he was a key player for Lithuania also thanks to his court vision and passing skills in the halfcourt, being able to easily find his teammates when the defense was reacting to him.
Gytis Masiulis – PF/C – 6‘9 – 1998 – Zalgiris Kaunas, LTU
The main interior presence for Lithuania was Gytis Masiulis, who ended up averaging 10.9 points, 8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game. Sometimes he struggled to finish in the paint against physical teams, because his frame is promising but still needs to fill up properly, but he’s a fighter who is not afraid to use his body to compete inside the paint. He’s also a terrific rebounder thanks to his positioning, and an above average passer for his position both from the low post and facing the basket. His outside shot is improved but still looked streaky in Cairo, hitting only 4 of his total 20 three point attempts. To try to complete the transition to the power forward spot he’ll need to work on his perimeter defense and his ability to put the ball on the floor.
Rokas Jokubaitis – SG/PG – 6‘2“ – 2000 – Zalgiris Kaunas, LTU
One of the most pleasing surprises at this level of competition was Jokubaitis, a guard who was two years younger than the competition in Egypt. A lefty shooter and deceptive ball-handler, he showed impressive confidence for a player his age and looked like he wasn’t feeling the pressure of the event. Jokubaitis has impressive shooting skills and confidence both off the catch and off the dribble, showing deep range and never losing his mind even after consecutive misses. He finished the tournament shooting 39.4% from three point range and averaging 5.3 assists while playing lot of minutes as a point guard.
Eric Vila – F – 6‘11“ – 1998 – Texas A&M, USA
After a subpar freshman season at Texas A&M Eric Vila played fairly well at the World Cup in Egypt. While his shooting numbers were below average overall, he was able to find other ways to impact the game. Vila shot at a horrendous 17.4% clip from the three point line, although he has a decent looking jump shot. Only converting 45.3% from inside the arch, he only fared fairly better in the two-point range. However, he showed the ability to make timely cuts when teammates drive, as well as when he is not directly involved in PNR situations, as he moved well around the basket. Not always looking for his own shot he often made the extra pass and the pass that led to an assist. His vision from the post is also superb, as he was able to find open teammates consistently without turning the ball over on these passes. Tough around the glass, Vila has good hands and displayed an ability to not only hold off opponents on the defensive board, but also use his length to force second chance opportunities (2.6 or).
Pol Molins – G – 6‘6“ – 1999 – Club Joventud Badalona, ESP
On first glance Pol Molins will not seem impressive due to him being a rather slow footed and heavier set point guard. However, he will quickly change the first impression, as he has a tremendously high basketball IQ with a certain calmness to his game that is well beyond his years. His ability to control the speed of the game, as well as calm his teammates down, will go ways, as he displays an innately high level of leadership. Though he is not overly quick, Molins has the ability to get his feet in the paint consistently He is very persistent when he drives, using his strong body well to get where he wants and then finds ways to create for himself with his soft floaters and others with his passing. Equipped with great vision he makes the right play more often than not, as he plays very heady. Though, he merely averages 1.6 three point attempts per game, he converts them at a very high rate (54.5%) always making him a threat when he’s on the court.
Aleix Font – SG/SF – 6’5” - 1998 – Barcelona, ESP
Font was the second best scorer for Spain with 11.6 points per game, playing both wing spots while acting strictly off the ball. His frame looked still undeveloped but promising, he has good size for his position but at the same time he’s a quick player with very good offensive footwork on offense. His offensive production came mainly as a shooter off the catch, both off spot up sets or coming off screens, and he showed excellent ability in squaring his feet to the basket, as well as quick and consistent shooting mechanics. He lacks explosiveness off the dribble and wasn’t much effective as a ball-handler in Cairo, but showed nice instincts as a cutter.
Photo by fiba.com
By Enrico Kufuor, Francesco Cavalli