Experience matters in this class of 2016, where the top four of Maodo Lo, Nic Moore, Trey Lewis and Anthony Gill all exceed the age of 24 and, in Lo’s and Moore’s case, had prior international experience: both Lo and Moore played at the 2015 World University Games, and the German additionally played backup guard for Germany at Eurobasket the same year. Rosco Allen played the 2013 U20 B Euros with Hungary, Shavon Shields helped Denmark to the 2013 Nordic Championship. AJ English is another impact rookie over 24.
Top 10 Rookie Seasons
1 Maodo Lo (1.5, Brose Baskets, 24.3 years, Germany)
The 4-year Columbia stud had a rough transition from Ivy league combo guard to Euroleague & BBL PG under demanding head coach Andrea Trinchieri, but has had a strong return half in both competitions, beginning to initiate half court offense more reliably and patiently picking his spots on offense. Efficient individual PnR scorer and looking increasingly comfortable turning the corner coming off the ball screen and making plays (scoring/passing) in the paint. 9th in pull up PPP in the Synergy Sports “all Euro competitions” leaderboards (of 327 players with 100 possessions or more), nailing 46.6% of his pull up shots. Is bursting past defenders one on one on BBL level when overplayed on the perimeter. Steep learning curve. He’s arrived.
2 Nic Moore (1.0, Enel Brindisi, 24.8 years)
175cm/5-9ft warrior, floor general and pull up assassin. Another player in the line of small grinder guards under 6 feet, possibly taking cues from his older counterpart in Southern Italy, Marques Green. Has devastating range on his 3pt-shot, splashing in shots Steph Curry would be proud of. Shooting 48% from 3pt on 6.0 3FGA/G altogether and an outstanding 43.4% (54.8 eFG%) on mostly difficult pull up jumpers (from 2 & 3). Floor general who commands the offense; always under control, plays smart passes, finds angles. Doesn’t always find the path to the rim but you can’t rattle him, keeps dribble alive effortlessly in tight spaces and patiently finds solutions. High-level feel for the game and basketball IQ.
3 Trey Lewis (1.5, Medi Bayreuth, 24.5 years)
6-2/188cm combo guard who transferred from Cleveland State to get a final shot at the NCAA tournament but had his senior year devastated by the Louisville postseason ban. 6th in BBL in PPG. Takes over PG duties when Kyan Anderson is sitting. Good character/teammate, communicative guy. Very good intangibles. Focused, motivated, sees himself in the NBA, very unlikely to accept an offer before NBA Summer League unless it is one they cannot refuse. Super 3pt- (45.9% on 5.5 FGA/G) and FT (94.2%) shooter. Makes difficult shots. Range goes way past the NBA 3pt line. Plays on- and off-ball. Constantly attacking, making plays with zero hesitation. Nr.1 late game option. Decent scoring/passing balance. Explosive, attacks the hoop in half court & transition. Tends to charge right at interior defenders but just an average finisher against length at the rim. Channeling that energy & fearlessness and picking his attacks more carefully is next on the to-do list. In-between/runner game is also merely average. Defensively: quick, focused, plays hard. Executes very well. Committed defender. First to loose balls. Size disadvantage when playing the two.
4 Anthony Gill (4.3, Yesilgiresun, 24.5 years)
Inside/outside big. Composed; Everything Gill does has a degree of composure to it. When he catches in the mid-range or in the dunker spot, when he decides to shoot or attack, when he finds an open passing target. He’s strong and smart. Shooting 70%(!) from 2pt range this season, Gill only takes good shots. Even when he has an open mid-range shot (which is his money shot), he often looks to attack, trying to improve his scoring chances. Now out of college, he’s been given more freedom to shoot threes, which he does at a 44% clip on 34 attempts for the season. Coming from University of Virginia, a college defensive staple program, Gill was expected to be a top notch defender like he showed possibility of at school. But with the mess of a team Yesilgiresun has been this season, he also has been a mixed bag on that end so far.
5 Rob Carter (4.7, Enel Brindisi, 23.0 years)
Carter left Maryland a year early with NBA hopes but ended up not being drafted. Given a big opportunity on Brindisi, Carter has turned into one of the better inside-out offensive big man prospects in Europe. He’s very good at creating scoring opportunities one on one, can face-up from 3, mid-range, or the post. Really moves well, has power, speed, and touch. Considering he’s a 4/5 Big, his 3pt shot is fairly solid. Even though averaging a full steal and rebound a game, Carter needs to grow defensively. Will volt up as a player when he uses energy equally on both sides of the ball.
6 Shavon Shields (3.7, Fraport Skyliners/Trento, 22.8 years, USA/Denmark)
Arguably the best BBL player on a non-playoff team. Mother is Danish, father NFL Hall of Famer. Versatile, extremely high-character combo forward who just moved to Trento on loan (Frankfurt exercised their option to bring him back next season). Produced as well against BBL +.500 teams as he did against bad teams. Smart, opportunistic scorer who is productive in transition and operates well in post/iso , and as ballhandler or screener in PnR situations. Doesn’t have great speed but is crafty in finding holes in the defense and attacking. Gets to the rim and crashes the glass when the opportunity is there. Very good at pushing the ball and making plays out of the own defensive rebound. Brings the ball up vs pressure. Game as PnR ballhandler needs work. Defensively, he’s battling, fighting, playing physical D; not dominant but executes. Still young for a rookie.
7 Rosco Allen (3.7, Obradoiro, 23.9 years, Hungary)
A 3/4 combo forward, Allen is a bit of a wild, freelancing player but is a really nice wing athlete. He can disrupt another team’s defense with his relentless slashing ability and feel with the ball. At 6’10”, Allen has always been fairly perimeter oriented but looked more bulked up since his college days, able to take on contact better. Still would be considered light weight for a PF. Allen has a reliable 3pt-shot, mainly used as a spot-up threat. He’s very dangerous when attacking the rim, has the leaping ability to jam a finish home over most rim protectors. But he’s a quick attacker, not a multiple dribble prober. Battling in the ACB all year, Allen has shown the ability to move up in the league. A leg fracture ended his season in mid-February.
8 Zach Auguste (5.0, USAK Sportif, 23.7 years)
Up-and-down but overall positive rookie year on a difficult team for the slender Notre Dame product, where abysmal team perimeter D is putting a lot of pressure on him to execute. Is neither a dominant rim protector nor a big interior body, but moves feet well and is cutting off drives away from the screen, et cetera. Decent switch defender. On offense, mobility and super footwork make Auguste a real PnR threat. Often attacks on the short roll with one or two quick extra dribbles, pivots well to escape the D. Tentative finishes ruin some quality moves. Is killing on the offensive glass; 2nd in BSL in ORB% (20.3). Has zero range: just 1/12 on jump shots and 0/3 on runners for the season, limiting his options as a scorer and leading to too many forced low percentage shots in the paint.
9 Dyshawn Pierre (3.5, Baskets Löwen Braunschweig, 23.4 Years)
Powerful Canadian combo forward who was a beast in the last month of the regular season. Real effective one-on-one player who is killing defenders in post/wing iso situations in Pete Mickeal fashion. Overpowers smaller/lighter players, attacks bigger guys with speed. Hit an exceptional 32/54 FGA in post situations. Super aggressive going to the hoop and a good, tough finisher at the rim. Pushes the ball hard and makes plays in transition. Plays with a lot of energy. Jumper is below par but not broken. Hit 34.1% of his shots in catch and shoot situations. Will be on a winning team in a top six league next season. Could well end up as one of this class’ top rookies in the long run.
10 David Walker (2.7, MoraBanc Andorra, 23.4 years)
Playing on a currently playoff ACB team, Walker has transitioned well as a key role player for Andorra in the best domestic league in Europe. Walker was used primarily on-ball at Northeastern and asked to be a main playmaker but has moved to more of a wing off-ball role in Andorra and thrived. He’s a 3pt shooter (45%) and leaper, playing efficient wing basketball. Walker’s cutting game has significantly improved and he looks to be an ACB mainstay for a while to come. Recently had a highlight game, scoring 17 points and adding in 3 assists and 2 steals as Andorra upset #1 Tenerife.
Didn’t quite make the cut
AJ English (1.5, Fraport Skyliners, 24.8 Years)
2016 Portsmouth MVP who was let go from Brindisi (where he shot 30.5% from the field/38.0 eFG%) and moved to Frankfurt mid-season. Was a one-man-offense in Iona. Talented on-ball player who needs to be “The Guy” to be effective. 2nd in BBL in FGA per game (13.0) behind Marcos Knight, 3rd in PPG at 17.6. Was relied on to provide offense for a young, fairly limited Frankfurt team, and delivered good volume numbers. English gets assists but isn’t a quick ball-mover; tends to slow the game down. Was very good making shots off the catch (41.1FG%/61.1eFG% in catch and shoot situations) but wants the ball in his hands and tends to launch a lot of jumpers when he does. Combined for just 29/90 FGA in iso/PnR ballhandler situations (read: when he creates his own shot).
Armani Moore (3.3, Stelmet Zielona Gora, 23.0 years)
Undersized but strong combo forward who’s one of the better wing defenders in the 2016-17 Euro rookie class. Was a wild horse in Tennessee’s quasi-positionless offense where he technically played the 4 but made a lot of plays on the ball, especially in transition. Has had a fairly smooth transition to Europe so far. Is making open spot up shots, layups off cuts, putbacks & transition offense, plus the occasional post up (not much of a post skillset though; and just 0.588PPP). Limited on-ball player in half court; defenders tend to go under the ball screen. Multipositional defender who executes both on- and off-ball on D and anticipates extremely well. Strong, athletic, blocks shots, takes charges.
Honorable Mentions Nathan Boothe, Gavin Ware, John Brown, Adam Smith, Tre Demps, Josh Scott, Justin Sears, Terry Allen, Ryan Anderson, Isaiah Miles