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2014 Belgrade NIJT: Players to Watch
by: David Hein, Euroleague.net
February 20, 2014
Mega Vizura Belgrade: Radovan Djokovic
Djokovic is a tall point guard, whose 2.00 meters is a blessing for his playing style. He played for Mega Vizura at the 2013 NIJT tournament in Belgrade, where he averaged 2.4 points 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. The 17-year-old is a very creative player who can create for himself and for his teammates. The Belgrade native has great court vision, is a solid three-point shooter and is very dangerous when he penetrates to the basket. He handles the ball well and does a good job making decisions with the ball. Defensively, his quick hands help him come up with a lot of steals. Djokovic was named the MVP of the Serbian U17 championship last season and has played in two Adriatic League games this season.
Cedevita Zagreb: Lovro Mazalin
Mazalin played at the Under-16 and U18 European Championships last summer. The latest young Croatian star following Dario Saric and Mario Hezonja, Mazalin was the U16 team’s leading scorer with 18.6 points per game – including a 44-point explosion against Turkey – to go with 7.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.8 steals. That came after helping the U18 team to a silver medal. Mazalin averaged 10.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists against older players. The 16-year-old left-handed point forward played last season in the NIJT for Cibona and averaged 24.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals in the Siauliai tournament. The Sisak native is extremely mature for his age. Mazalin stands 2.04 meters tall and is a natural scorer with a variety of offensive skills and a knack of getting to the basket and the foul line. Considered one of the top players of the 1997 class, he has long arms and while he is not über-athletic, he is a great passer with a good understanding of the game.
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade: Vojislav Stojanovic
Stojanovic played for Serbia at the U16 European Championship last summer and helped the team get to the final, where they lost to Spain. The 1.97m shooting guard averaged 10.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 block per game at the event in Ukraine. The Belgrade native is a very aggressive player with high intensity. He plays with confidence and is ultra-competitive. Stojanovic, 16, possesses great size for a shooting guard and often sets the tone for the offense with his good ball-handling, though he also can play as a point guard. Stojanovic is tremendous rebounder from the backcourt. He still lacks consistency with his shooting, but is a very promising post-up player. The 1997-born player uses his good size, length and strength to make plays defensively.
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica: Milos Popovic
Popovic turned into one of the leaders for Montenegro at the U16 European Championship last summer, where he led his team in scoring (12.8 ppg.) and rebounds (7.8 rpg.) while also grabbing 1.6 steals despite being just 15-years-old. The 1.97-meter center was given more time in the relegation round and responded with 19.2 points 9.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2.4 steals in the final five games, including 34 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals in the last game against Sweden. The Podgorica native, who turns 16 years old just days before the tournament tips off, is extremely effective in the post with the ability to shoot over 60% from the field, including range beyond the three-point stripe. He also does a good job drawing fouls, and then converting from the foul line.
Zemun: Slobodan Jovanovic
Jovanovic has played the last two summers for Serbia at U16 European Championship, winning bronze in 2012 and then silver in 2013, losing in the final against Spain. The 1.93m shooting guard averaged 6.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals. Jovanovic, who is a native of Belgrade, turns 17 just before the tournament starts. He is a strong all-around player, an excellent shooter and a good dribbler, who will make the right play thanks to his basketball intelligence. His technique is impeccable and he is very good in one-on-one situations, making good decisions when he gets into the lane. Jovanovic does not shy away from contact, but he could use more strength to better absorb the physicality of the game.
Canarias Basketball Academy: Norbert Janicek
Janicek played last summer for Slovakia at the U18 European Championship Division B, where he led the team in scoring (12.4 ppg.) and rebounding (8.0 rpg.) while shooting an incredible 77% from the field. The 2.10-meter center, who moved from the German youth development team Urspring to Canarias, can shoot with both hands, including a hook shot with his right or left. He’s not über-athletic, but he uses his body well on offense and when positioning for rebounds. He has a face-up game with some solid range on the jumper. The Martin native is not much of a leaper and doesn’t block a lot of shots, but he has good instincts on defense. He still has a skinny frame and could use some bulk to become even more effective in the paint.
INSEP Paris: Stephane Gombauld
Gombauld played at the U16 European Championships in 2012 and 2013, taking a silver two summers ago and then a fifth-place showing last year to earn France a spot at the 2014 U17 World Championship. Last summer, the 2.02-meter forward led his team in scoring (16.0 ppg.), rebounding (8.8 rpg.), steals (2.0 spg.) and blocks (1.0 bpg.). Gombauld played last season in the NIJT and averaged 11.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in the Belgrade qualifying tournament and then 5.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals at the NIJT Finals in London. The Saint-Claude native, who will turn 17 in March, has long arms, which makes his an ever-present danger on defense. He has good instincts on the offensive glass and is very mobile with a quick first step. He position is still unclear and he still needs to work on his ball-handling and adding strength to his frame. He is still raw in many regards, but also still young.
Partizan NIS Belgrade: Milos Glisic
Glisic played for Serbia at the U16 European Championships in 2012 and 2013, winning bronze two summers ago and then taking silver last summer. The 2.05-meter center was selected for the All-Tournament Team after he averaged team highs with 14.0 points and 7.6 rebounds. The Banja Luka, Bosnia native will be playing in his second NIJT tournament after collecting 5.8 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 63% as a 14-year-old. Glisic, who won’t turn 16 until April, is considered one of the best players in the 1998 class. He still has room to grow and fill out his solid frame, which is a bit lanky. Glisic lacks elite athleticism and leaping ability, but he is smooth and fluid and has a great feel for the game with a good sense of positioning. His shooting mechanics are solid and he continues to work on his ball-handling and footwork to be able to play on the wing. Glisic is still amazingly young with loads of upside.