2014 adidas EuroCamp Preview and Roster Breakdown
The day started with some stretching and light drills, giving the hundreds of members of the basketball industry assembled here a chance to re-connect and put faces to names before competitive action tipped off. This event has become so popular that the gym was full to the point that a number of people who didn't apply for credentials in advance had to be turned away at the door for lack of space. Many of the scouts in attendance here are making good use of their time in Europe, using Treviso's central location to their advantage by making the three hour drive to Zagreb to watch the Croatian League Finals, which features potential 2014 lottery picks Jusuf Nurkic and Dario Saric.
Unlike many years, no player on the list of names released originally who had declared for draft withdrew at the last minute, a testament to the hard work and planning of Maurizio Gherardini and his staff. The only two defections were Croatian shooter Dominik Mavra and young Montenegrin big man Zoran Nikolic, who wasn't old enough to declare for the draft this year.
Late additions to the EuroCamp roster included auto-eligible prospect Axel Toupane, 1993-born Italian small forward Eric Lombardi, and Kosovo-native Erjon Kastrati, a 1994-born swingman who has spent the majority of his career playing in Slovenia. While some scouts feel the group of campers assembled here may not be quite as deep from top to bottom as we've seen in some previous years, there's still plenty of interesting players to watch, and the strength of the adidas USA Select Team certainly definitely helps as well. It is worth noting that while Clint Capela and Jusuf Nurkic were solid here last year, they didn't see significant hype as a result of their play in Treviso, and it wouldn't be surprising if a few names we mention in the coming days wind up blossoming later rather than sooner.
Day One Activities
The first day of the adidas EuroCamp included drills and team practices to go along with a total of four games featuring all four teams of campers, the French U20 National Team, the adidas USA Select Team, and an all-star team of the day's top performers. CIS powerhouse Carleton college did not play today and will begin their playing schedule tomorrow at 1 PM.
When players aren't competing, they go through a gambit of athletic tests and measurements administered by BAM, the same company that runs the testing that NBA Combine, on a separate court. We'll analyze those numbers in detail when they're released in the coming days.
The media in attendance also went through the BAM tests. We'll be posting those results as well, obviously.
Serbian National Team Head Coach Aleksander Djordjevic made an appearance as a guest speaker as the event got off to the slow start that always comes on the first day of the camp as the attendees settle in and get comfortable with their teammates. A number of players complained about the All-Court basketballs used during the morning session, which may have contributed to the combined 0/19 the two teams in the first scrimmage shot from three.
Playing in a setting that separates them from the comfort zones they've settled into with their respective clubs, day one always offers an interesting frame of reference into how well a player can survive off their instincts and adapt to their surroundings.
Knocking down a number of jump shots over the course of today's game, Maker's unusually deft perimeter stroke for a player his size was obvious, as he was able to score from the midrange both off the dribble and when facing up and even connected on the lone three-pointer he attempted. Taking and making a number of difficult, off-balance shots, Maker's fluid mechanics are highlighted by terrific follow through which coupled with his size and footwork, help him overcome his sometimes questionable shot selection, making him a difficult matchup.
At this point in his career, Maker's main weaknesses are obvious on first glance. Lacking physical strength in a major way like most 17 year old 7-footers, he's not a refined scorer in the post, struggles to finish through contact, and has trouble defending more physically mature players on the block. Matching up with the 6'11, 249-pound Mouhammadou Jaiteh for stretches today, Maker, who weighed 195 pounds at the LeBron James Skills Academy last year, unsurprisingly had a difficult time keeping the far more experienced French center away from the rim. His 7'2 wingspan makes him a capable shot blocker at the high school level, but he's still in the early stages of his development on this end of the floor as his fundamentals remain a work in progress
Eligible to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft at the earliest right now, Thon Maker gave the dozens of NBA decision-makers in attendance a glimpse of things to come. One of the youngest players at this event, his special talent is unmistakable. Few players his age can step into a setting like this one and hold up against more mature, organized competition, and there's little doubt this will be the first of many times we write about the promising power forward in the coming years.
The 2nd leading scorer in the adidas Gauntlet averaging 23.4 points per-game for Georgia-based Game Elite, Brown uses his physical tools first and foremost to attack the rim. An aggressive slasher in the half court and a highlight waiting to happen in transition, Brown runs the floor, takes the ball strong to the rim, and seeks out contact, as evidenced by the 11 free throws he drew today. Possessing solid shooting mechanics and showing a willingness to make the extra pass, Brown has a tremendously promising skill set offensively.
Defensively, Brown's athleticism and motor, coupled with great timing on his rotations, make him a capable shot blocker and a solid rebounder. Swatting away 4 shots today, Brown is not shy about challenging scorers at the rim in a setting as competitive as this one. As he matures, Brown has tremendous potential on this side of the floor as well.
Holding offers from well over a dozen of the country's elite programs, Brown has his choice of suitors at the college level and has obvious one-and-done potential. A well-rounded, smart player, Brown is a player scouts will be watching very, very closely in the coming days.
- A player we profiled in detail a little over a week ago, Senegalese center Moussa Diagne struggled a bit here not looking quite as explosive as he did on film. Very raw offensively, Diange struggled to finish and made questionable decisions with the ball lacking much feel for what he needs to do on the offensive end. However, he pulled down 6 offensive rebounds in 40 minutes over two games and changed a number of shots with his length defensively. Still early in his development as a player overall, Diagne showed what he brings to the table long-term defensively, but also just how far away he is in other aspects of the game.
- Vasilije Micic started off slow, but got going as the day went on. Getting a little too fancy in the first game, he racked up 5 turnovers trying to do too much, which has been an issue for him at times this season for Mega Vizura where he's averaging 3.6 turnovers per-game to go along with 5.8 assists. Knocking down a pull-up jumper and throwing a number of impressive passes later in the day, including a perfect lob and a one-handed full-court bomb to a streaking teammate, Micic flashed the talent that makes him a potential first round pick. We'll likely revisit his play later in the week.
-Marcus Eriksson didn't appear to have any trouble with the All-Court balls being used today, going 4-5 from beyond the arc to score 12 points in 17 minutes of action. As he's done his entire career, the skinny, 6'5 Swede made defenders pay for giving him any space on the perimeter. One, if not the, top young shooter in Europe, Eriksson is averaging 11.2 points per-game playing a significant role in the ACB for Manresa. His value at the NBA level is obvious, but whether or not he stays in the draft or waits until he's automatically eligible next year remains to be seen.
- One of the most improved players in Europe over the last year, 1993-born Guillem Vives played well today. A creative ball-handler with great footwork and timing, Vives is a big point guard in the Grievis Vasquez mold. Playing with similar energy, the Spanish guard is a pest defensively, coming up with 4 steals in his first game today, and a capable distributer despite lacking great speed and quickness. His jump shot has been on the streaky side all year, but he's had a breakout year in what is essentially his rookie season in the ACB averaging 8.3 points and 4.4 assist per-game as the starting point guard of FIATC Joventut, the same team Ricky Rubio grew up playing for.