By Artau Pascual

BYU’s new staff started their international recruitment on a high note. The Russian 6’9 Wing Egor Demin, a Real Madrid product, will be a part of the Cougars for the 2024-25 season. Demin, a 2006-born player who has often been included in the 2006-born Eurohopes ranking, is considered a major pickup with NBA upside. His frame and skillset are appealing, and he has grown in one of Europe's most competitive and challenging environments. 

Egor Demin fits in perfectly with an attractive offensive idea. The new BYU staff, led by a Coach with NBA experience like Kevin Young, who will be surrounded by assistant coaches with experience in different situations, will get in the Russian player somebody who can operate both on and off the ball. He has enough creativity to help build a dynamic offense. He already has experience at dealing with sharing ball-handling duties with other perimeter creators such as Hugo González this season, or the same Hugo González plus Jan Vide in the previous one.

Demin’s go-to strength on the offensive end is his mid-range shot. This is a little tricky still: at this stage of his development, it should still take some time for him to get to the spots he has at the highest level, and that’s strictly related to how a player operates in the mid-range, but his pull-up from that area is great. He’s difficult to block because of his release point, the stroke is clean, and the mechanics are translatable to every level. This part of his game will keep improving and rising in terms of usage as he figures out how to slow down the game, polishes the way he slows down and uses the pick once he enters it and, finally, turns into a more unpredictable player at getting to the rim and involving teammates in as a pick&roll ball handler. If he’s able to reach the next stages in key areas such as learning how to change the pace, playing through contact and all those unpredictability things already cited, we will be talking about a high-floor, high-ceiling ball handler. As a passer in pick&roll schemes, Demin can sometimes trust too much his pass to the open shooter and ignore the risk of feeding the roller, even though good things happen when he does so. Once he finds out how to put the defender in jail by getting in his hips, and he starts going deeper in his drives, he will be able to assist the roll threat more often. Good things use to happen every time he’s aggressive, as we saw in Berlin in his games against INSEP -one of the most challenging teams he has faced in terms of physicality and contact- and Ratiopharm Ulm.

As well as Egor Demin has potential at creating from a standstill, the best of him at playmaking comes when he can create plays for himself and his teammates in motion, coming off screens and creating an initial advantage through movement.  Demin is a really smart player with outstanding qualities related to how he understands where his space is. He’s also proactive in relocating himself on the court and doesn’t slow down the ball when he operates off the catch. In this sense, his excellent game perfection makes him an easy cog to fit in a dynamic offense engine. Madrid has used him in multiple sets such as flare screens, Spain pick&roll, staggers, pindowns and shuffles, and he has been useful either to finish the play, to put the ball on the floor benefiting from the advantage his movement created or to be a simple decoy. Demin’s off-ball game carries some offensive gravity that looks tangible for the upcoming levels. 

The rest of the off-the-ball game is also good to go, even if results sometimes can still look inconsistent. His spot-up shot has gone through some ups and downs and his recent outings are a mixed bag of hot and cold games, but there are no mechanical issues, and he should be able to end up finding the consistency. He does not invade the wrong spaces, and he acts smartly as a floor-spacer. As a spot-up driver, he’s good too: Demin plays with great timing and, even though he’s not the most explosive guy, he’s sensitive to when he can create the advantage, and he understands pretty well where the weakness of the closeout is. Demin can drive in either direction, finishes well with both hands and has remarkable coordination. He still has some ways to go in terms of craftiness and finishing through contact, as well as the amount of rim pressure he puts, still needs to increase, but he meets the requirements to provide a decent floor also in this area. He can drive and dish, his extensions are solid and his reads on the defensive helps use to be accurate, so it all should come together easily.

We shouldn’t overlook Egor Demin’s potential on the defensive end. He’s an impressive weakside defender with a fascinating knack for jumping passing lanes and, even though he’s not a vertical leaper or a shot-blocking threat, his positioning and anticipation skills, added to his size, are tremendous. Demin, when off the ball, is active and under tension, so he’s able to prevent offensive advantages and his disruptive skills make an impact on collecting steals and deflections. Demin, like every 6’9 perimeter defender, would struggle at guarding the shiftiest and more explosive Guards at every level, but he brings an off-the-ball value that could be almost a plug-and-play skill for him. It’s still early to know which types of positional matchups he will have to face, and obviously, the offense purpose is constantly trying to put the opponents in discomforting situations, but there’s a viable path for Demin to make an impact on this end while providing some switchability and not being a clear liability or target. NCAA will also be a great place for him to keep working and getting ready his frame and physical attributes for the next stages.

There is an expansive window of possible outcomes for Egor Demin. The Real Madrid product does have NBA ceiling, and it’s impossible to pass on a talent of this kind, and he could trend towards multiple archetypes. While undeniably the jumbo primary initiator stands as the best-case scenario, probably a fair one would be turning in a secondary initiator with on and off-the-ball impact depending on how the lineup shapes whose defensive impact can be net positive. BYU has a chance to play a key role in defining what Egor Demin, who has felt comfortable playing in diverse roles over the last years, will be for the years to come, and the Big 12 looks like a cool conference for him.