Top 5 Performers
MARTYNAS Sajus (C, Lithuania, 26-Feb-1996, Gdansk)
Late bloomer who anchored that Lithuanian half court D: plays hard, talks, puts real work in. LTU were comfortable switching Sajus on guards. He’s mobile, moves feet well, trails, blocks. Pokes post feeds away, holds position, contests. Good screener on offense, improved finisher; 3rd in Helsinki in roll man PPG (3.3), according to Synergy Sports. Is an average, mostly strength-based post player, though footwork is improving. Has very good hands, completes difficult catches and finishes well with his left off-hand. Mixed result as a mid-roll passer and generally having problems making plays when crowded, but there’s a steep learning curve. Started playing basketball late. Focused, admits to own mistakes, mature performance.
Yankuba Sima (C/PF, Spain, 28-Jul-1996, St.John’s)
Not ultra-dominant but still fairly effective defensive performance; Spain finished 1st in Defensive Rating, Sima 6th in BLK% (7.6). Contested shots as a sit-back big and closed out hard on the perimeter when necessary. Mobile, long, covers a large area. Had a terrible tournament on offense. Unable to finish anything against length or contact; shot just 18/42 around the rim.
LAURYNAS Birutis (C, Lithuania, 27-Aug-1997, Vytautas)
Possibly the center with the highest ceiling. Got real work done in limited minutes.1 Still slender with skinny legs but getting wider and becoming a more aggressive finisher. Ambidextrous. Has progressed leaps and bounds as a passer; finds cutters and spot up shooters out of the post. Contributed to Lithuania’s strong team effort defending Markkanen. Occasionally has that 7-footer problem where the game is moving too fast for him, but he’s getting there.
Ömer Yürtseven (C/PF, Turkey, 17-Jun-1998, North Carolina State)
Tarnished a strong tournament with a no-show two point performance in the semifinal exit versus Lithuania. 2nd youngest player in Helsinki.2 1st in putback PPG (3.6), 3rd in ORB% (21.4), 4th in BLK% (8.2). Has tremendous touch/skill and precise timing as a shot blocker/rebounder; gets by by pure talent. But doesn’t bend his knees on D and doesn’t put a body on the offensive rebounder. The “Jogger” Yürtseven (h/t Sam) had just one transition FGA in seven games.
EGE Arar (PF/C, Turkey, 2-Sep-1996, Galatasaray)
Just plays harder than you do. Floor-running, bruising combo big with good core strength. Cuts, tip-ins, elbow slashes. Runs the floor for early post ups. Aggressive, strong finisher like a pro- not a junior player. Shows emotion. Glue guy. Jumpshot is poor; FT% bounces between 40 and 60. Galatasaray rotation player.
RAMON Vila (C, Spain, 11-Sep-1997, Arizona State)
Known as a bruiser and didn’t disappoint. Finished 7th in putback PPG (2.9). Undersized body with serious core/leg strength. A “knows his role” type of player but isn’t just all hustle & power; showed good touch on big man runners, drilled 4/6 jumpshots.
Jaume Sorolla (C, Spain, 18-FEB-1997, Valparaiso)
Spanish backup five. Strong body, strong arms. Showed a very smooth mid range touch but not a good interior finisher at this point.
- Jakub Jokl (C, Czech Republic, 21-May-1996, Utah)
- Ido Flaisher (C, Israel, 27-Jan-1998, Hawai’i)
- Rudy Stradnieks (C, Latvia, 22-Jun-1996, Southern Illinois)
- Tobias Sjöberg (C, Sweden, 5-Feb-1997, Marist)
Martynas Echodas (PF/C, Lithuania, 7-Jul-1997, Siauliai)
Doesn’t have a position but strengths trump weaknesses at this point. Serial finisher inside the paint. Attacks the rim, gets to the foul line (5.4 FTA/G in Helsinki), fearless, dunks whenever possible. Goes strong for offensive boards. Has a fair short mid range J but range doesn’t extend any further. Tends to have problems finishing against length; always goes for the power move. Much more power than finesse in his game. Played exceptionally hard on both ends.
SIMON BiRgander (C, Sweden, 23-Oct-1997, CB Clavijo)
Breakout tournament. Plays in LEB Gold. Finished 8th in BLK%, 9th in putback PPG, 10th in ORB% in limited minutes.3 Big near-7-foot body, decent frame, long, moves well for his size. Can elevate & finish, had a bunch of good slams in warm-up. Has sound touch around the hoop. Had a bunch of good, translatable defensive plays where he picked up the ballhandler coming off the ball screen, trailed and blocked the layup attempt. Was quiet, not talking much. Not playing physical ball yet, not banging, but has potential.
Amine Noua (C/PF, France, 7-Feb-1997, ASVEL)
Simple yet effective, floor-running ASVEL combo big who led all big men in transition PPG in Helsinki (3.5). Below-the-rim player with good mobility, an athletic upper body but skinny legs. 6th in scoring (15.8 PPG). Gets on the scoreboard no matter what; you don’t have to run plays for him. Strong off hand. Patient, smart passer. Fairly reliable from the short mid range but range doesn’t extend further. Pragmatic offensive player, average defensive player. Not a rim protector.
Klavs Cavars (C, Latvia, 11-Feb-1996, Pertevniyal)
Old-school center, one of the biggest bodies at the U20s. Strong core/legs, has mass, which he really throws around. Goes right at the defender’s chest and creates separation that way. Finished 1st in ORB%, 3rd in post PPG (at 0.886 team PPP),4 3rd in putback PPG, 14th in BLK%. Wants to charge through defenders and forces shots, very right hand dominant, produces turnovers when they absorb his hits and crowd him. Below par footspeed.
Mahir Agva (C, Germany, 26-Jun-1996, Frankfurt)
Led Helsinki in post- (own finish & kickout) and pick and pop possessions; popped on 80% of his ball screen finishes. Has a smooth jumper from elbow- and long range. Post possessions are usually of the catch & score variety (a lot of high-lows). Uses body, knocks opponent off balance, catch, jump hook. Ineffective when he has to dribble in the post; generally not a dribbler. Below-par defender.
Simon Pursl (C/PF, Czech Republic, 29-Jan-1997, ZARAGOZA)
Efficient, versatile, team-player. Strong, mature, pro body. Combo big who mostly came off the bench and was their 2nd best player after Svoboda. Causes confusion with his 50/50 roll/pop ratio on ball screens. Drilled 3/6 PnP jumpers and successfully drove past the close out on another pop. Jumper is streaky though, and he’s a poor foul shooter. Defense: Strong, physical, rebounds well. Executes. Occasionally got into foul trouble. Just average as a rim protector.
Tim Lambrecht (PF/C, Belgium, 15-Jan-1998, Oostende)
Left-handed mid range big with outstanding shooting touch. 8th youngest player in the tournament. Still slender, narrow frame, not much of an athlete. Has a low ceiling as an athlete, but skills & motor are real. Tremendous touch from long & short mid range; drills difficult, contested iso twos and big man runners. Pick and pop threat; pops on 70% of his ball screen finishes. Ran the floor (occasionally as ballhandler), crashed the offensive glass hard, went after it. High activity level was very encouraging.
Egemen Güven (C, Turkey, 25-Sep-1996, Pinar Karsiyaka)
Finesse big who is thrown off by physicality. Has super touch around the rim and is automatic on the Printezis-type big man floater, especially from the dunker spot. Good passer. High ball IQ, patient, lets game come to him. Has weak base/legs and cannot finish when bumped. Struggles with physicality. Was a high-level prospect a couple years ago but as the competition is getting bigger & stronger, he isn’t.
Daniel Koperberg (C, Israel, 8-Dec-1997, Maccabi Haifa)
Best Israeli big man prospect in a while from a pure talent perspective. Real force on the roll, big body and OK touch on rim finishes, baby hooks & big man runners. Led the U20s in roll man PPG (5.4), 6th in putback PPG (2.9); 8th in scoring overall (15.1 PPG). Focus isn’t always there.
Dmytro Skapintsev (C, Ukraine, 12-May-1998, Cherkasy Monkey)
Ukrainian C who came to Helsinki as a just-turned-18 big man prospect, finished the tournament, then played Ukraine’s opener at the U18 B Euros in Skopje five days later. 4th youngest player at the U20s. Was thrown off by big bodies and didn’t move his feet in PnR D, but has two years to fill out and become a better athlete vs U20 competition. Showed hints of an elbow J.
Defense & Intangibles
Leon Kratzer (C, Germany, 4-Feb-1997, Bamberg)
Mountain. Real paint presence who absorbed rebound after rebound5 and finished 2nd in BLK%. Grinds super hard for position, seals defenders, thus creating catch & score plays for himself and driving lanes for Obst & co. Selfless. Doesn’t possess breathtaking footspeed but generally a plus defender. Is let down by his shockingly poor touch around the hoop and on foul shots. Sometimes needs that own 2nd tip to finish an initially simple layup. Surprisingly good passer.
Denzel Andersson (C/PF, Sweden, 21-Sep-1996, Lulea)
Another personal favourite. Undersized C who led the U20s in BLK% (11.5), was 5th & 6th respectively in ORB% & DRB%. Did a lot of damage on the roll. Pragmatic & hard-working. Seals people, goes after loose balls, Mr. Intangibles. Always ready to execute a flare screen. Catch & score player inside. Showed a smooth elbow- and long range J in warm-up but not in-game. Defends, moves, blocks shots. Positive teammate.
- Lithuania’s Sajus/Miniotas/Echodas/Birutis front court rotation had serious quality/depth.
- Behind Thomas Murphy
- Other Swedish big Denzel Andersson also played very well; hence limited minutes.
- That’s both his own post finishes and team finishes that resulted from his post kick outs
- 18.5 ORB% (4th) & 36.8! DRB% (1st)