It was a long first day at Treviso. After waking up at 4.45 am at home we arrived to the italian city at 11.30 am to follow the Adidas Eurocamp, held in the Veneto location from yesterday to tomorrow Monday. The first image once we arrived to La Ghirada (the sports center of Benetton) impressed us. Larry Bird wathing the first game of the day and the gym packed. Really packed. Many NBA franchises represented (all of them) and also many scouts and GM's from Europe, basiclly countries like Italy -of course- and Spain, and also a huge group of agents and some journalists. Very attractive organization (seems a little better than past years with Reebok), and also NBA players like french Nicolas Batum (Portland) and slovenian Goran Dragic (Phoenix) between the attendance. Not bad. Great effort from Pete Philo and Jelena Soce again to make a step forward in the life of an "european pre-draft camp" that is growing every edition a bit more.
But the level in the court is worst than past last edition. For sure. Eurohopes published a couple of days ago that maybe next NBA Draft will be the first in 15 years without european prospects in the first round (article). With Vesely and Motiejunas waiting for better chances, only french Kevin Seraphin ('89), from Cholet, is in the mock drafts. He got injured some days ago in a play-offs game at french league and he could retire his name. The 1988 generation is not good, and this is affecting the camp. The group of best serbians borned in that year are still playing domestic competition and -even some of those names are in the players list in Treviso- maybe they won't appear. Miroslav Raduljica, from FMP Zeleznik, and Nemanja Bjelica, from Red Star -some rumors yesterday in La Ghirada put him in FC Barcelona next year- can have options to been choosen in second round (maybe last positions of first), but is really tough. We must wait for some surprise to break these stats. Maybe brit Ryan Richards ('91), who shined in the Chicago Combine, is the man. He was supposed to come to Treviso but their agents decided to keep him making private work-outs in the States. The forward has been represented by three different agencies in less than one year, and has played with three different teams in less than one year also. But his name is in the air and many NBA teams have called spanish Gran Canaria (ACB) asking for him. Richards is under contract with spainards to seasons more. Good bussiness for them.
Not many players showed great things in the opener, in the game played at the morning. Argentinian guard Matias Nocedal ('90), who is under contract with Caja Laboral (ACB) and has been loaned this year to Ourense (LEB Gold), scored easy from downtown (15 points with 5/6). He has a very strong body, but he missed many games during the year due to an injury, struggling many months. He shined last summer with his NT in the U-19 WC in New Zealand, also with great percentages behind the arc. Interesting to follow. Early-entry serbian Uros Lukovic ('89), from Radnicki, was the other only player to score double figures (11 with 5/7 FG). The 2.12 center has a huge body but how he moves on the court don't help us to think in a good project. He has been practicing in Los Angeles last days before landing to Treviso trying to find his best way. Other names of this first contest? Hard job. Lithuanian Mindaugas Kuzminskas ('89), from Siauliai, played great in last edition. Not today. We'll wait. Dijon guard Abdoulaye M'Baye ('88), playing in the point (not his position), poured 8 points due to his effort. He can make a good career in France, but not in the top-level. Spanish Josep Franch ('91), greek Vladimir Jankovic ('90), german Luca Staiger ('88) and polish Jakub Wojciechowski ('90) send us good sparks. But only a few.
It was time to eat a pizza in the dowtown and a couple of "cafes doppio" to keep our minds clear to prepare the afternoon. Early-entry Edwin Jackson ('89) -with 15 points and 3/4 threes-, younster serbian Bogdan Bogdanovic ('92) -10 with 2/4 FG- and also serbian Dejan Musli ('91) -10 and 4 boards- the ones with double-figures in the second game. French Jackson, if he cotinues in the same line, will be one of the big names of the camp. He is scoring capacity and his legs helped him this season to improve after being loaned to Rouen. Now he has gone back to ASVEL. Must keep an eye on him. Bogdanovic, one of the younger players of the event, has played all the season with Zitko Basket, but also defending FMP jersey in the Euroleague's NIJT final round in Paris after being invited. What he will do next season? He is one of the pearls of serbian market. At the moment he is showing good shooting range, with a very interesting body. Musli is Musli. Great moves in the paint. Great hands (both) to finish. Huge. Long arms and athletic running the floor. Best of the best? Other names to follow were german Robin Benzing ('89), greek Linos Chrysikopoulos ('92), french Thomas Heurtel ('89) and brazilian Cesar Lima ('91).
In the third game of the day appeared bosnian Nihad Djedovic ('90) -11 with 4 steals- and russian Semen Shashkov ('89) -with 14 and 6/7 FG- to led their team to the win. Djedovic, under contract with FC Barcelona, has been played loaned to Xacobeo (ACB), but he missed many games due to an injury. He is one of the bet european prospects in his age, and showed his scoring skills, being smart with the steals. Shashkov, from CSKA and loaned to second division, also sent us good sensations. Brit Daniel Clark ('88), also interesting after a season with a couple of great games in ACB with Asefa Estudiantes. Unknown early-entry Tomasz Nowakowski ('90), from Poland, worked well for his chances (11+5).
Tied contest the one played at the end. Croatian U-20 NT, with Toni Prostran ('91) pouring 26 (11/19 FG) and dishing 6 assists, lost against the Eurocamp All Star (84-91). Edwin Jackson and Dejan Musli, helped by Thomas Heurtel, made a good job. Former Iowa State Luca Staiger scored easy behind the arc, and Robin Benzing showed good sparks.
Game All Star vs Croatia U-20
Photo: Eurohopes (Larry Bird attending the camp)