David Pick | Nr. 43

It's been a long while since we've seen elite NBA prospects thrown into the waters on top Euro-clubs. While it didn’t lead them to many accolades as a group, Ratiopharm Ulm’s ballsy move to hand the keys of a well-respected club to then NBA prospect PG Killian Hayes proved to be a successful decision for the 2001-born Frenchman. Ricky Rubio and Luka Doncic dominating the ACB at 15 and 16 years of age is something that's hard to predict will happen in the near future.

Israeli point-forward Deni Avdija became a gem on an already star-loaded Maccabi Tel Aviv roster, but he was in his late teens and had already won MVP and a Gold medal at the European U20 Championship in Israel.

While there are many prospects bound to make a splash in the Euroleague down the road, as the generations wheels continue to spin forward, I've noticed less of a growth in players from clubs such as Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade, and rather focus this blog on players 2000-born or younger, that are logging bold minutes in European competition (!), rather their domestic leagues. I also chose to focus less on the lower seeded clubs, and give more attention to young ballers that must have an immediate impact and fill in some major shoes while performing under high pressure before their credit instantly runs out. Also, worth noting, big men tend to develop later in their careers, considered "late bloomers", while guards are more recognized earlier because of their tendencies to be more polished with the ball.

For example, Boston Celtics recent 2nd-Round NBA Draft Pick Yam Madar is in the middle of a legal battle against his club Hapoel Tel Aviv over the amount of his buyout to free him from Israel to the United States in the upcoming offseason. Madar, winner of the Euro U20 with the Israeli National Team, leads his entire Hapoel roster in MPG (32.5) PPG (17.2) APG (5.2) and TO (3.2) -- borderline baby Luka stats -- but Hapoel were booted out the FIBA Europe Cup Qualifiers 1st-Round vs Danish club Bakken Bears; and in the domestic competition are the 3rd-worst ranked club in Israel, battling relegation after changing multiple imports and the head coach.

Here are some of the more interesting players logging real game time minutes in the Euroleague or EuroCup.

Carlos Alocen (2000, 1.94)

Passport: Spain

Club: Real Madrid (ACB)

Comp: Euroleague

Quick Stats: 11MPG, 3.6PPG, 27% 3P, 50% FT (2-4), 1.1RPG, 1.9APG, 1TO

Outlook: While Carlos isn't necessarily a stat-filler, his job is more to control the offense, avoid making mistakes, and get his teammates the ball in the right places. Madrid are loaded with fire-power and have the most dominant big man in Europe in Edy Tavares. Alocen, in over 175 Euroleague minutes, averaged barely one turnover per game, and finished six contests with ZERO turnovers. Alocen, minus Facundo Campazzo, who bolted midseason to the NBA, and sometimes without Sergio Llull - has without a doubt the biggest shoes to fill, giant shoes, monstrous if you choose. He’s done so with a lot of poise and calmness to his game. Alocen made his ACB debut when he was 15-years-old for CB Zaragoza. I watched him lose to Avdija, Madar and Israel in the 2019, U20 Finals in Tel Aviv; and I recently watched him start as floor general for Pablo Laso and Real Madrid in the Euroleague vs Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was a nice closer for me, but less for Carlos - who hasn't beaten an Israeli team in Israel in his career yet. While his stats at large aren't sexy - again, it's not what his job description requires. He did record big showings vs Panathinaikos (13PTS & 4AST) and ALBA Berlin (12PTS & 4AST). It's clear to me that he will follow in the footsteps of many before him en route to the NBA, but he needs to get his 3PT% up, way up, and attack the basket more- playing more physical to get to the free-throw line, before that can happen.

Davide Casarin (2003, 1.97)

Passport: Italy

Club: Reyer Venezia (SerieA)

Comp: EuroCup

Quick Stats: 16MPG, 5.7PPG, 1.9RPG, 2APG, 2.8TO

Outlook: Casarin is the closest thing from an age-perspective to Doncic-Rubio. Casarin is just 17-years-old and made his debut for Vecnice's senior club during the 2018-19 season - you can do the math. Important to note, and not to take away anything from Davide's performances and accomplishments on the court - his father Federico Casarin, is the President of the club. Only after dropping out of the EuroCup and failing to Qualify for the Top-16, Venice acquired Wes Clark, perhaps to add more experience and veteranship to Walter De Raffaele's roster. Casarin played 20+ minutes vs JL Bourg en Bresse (twice), Joventut Badalona and Bahcesehir Koleji İstanbul, scoring in double-figures against the French and Spanish clubs, and dished out three-or-more dimes four times this season. The glass half full shows he turned over the ball 4, 6 and 7 times on four or more occasions, and committed 4 or more fouls in four games as well. Nonetheless, with a dying breed of Italian floor generals, Casarin can surely be the one to fill that void in the future. He has the heart, the grit and the grind to excel.

Yohan Choupas (2000, 1.93)

Passport: French

Club: AS Monaco (ProA)

Comp: EuroCup, Top-16

Quick Stats: 11MPG, 3.1PPG, 37.5% 3P, 1.3RPG, 0.1APG

Outlook: While Choupas' stats aren't as impressive as they should be, he is widely considered one of the top guards coming out of France. He climbed the Tricolor ladder after playing in the NM1 third-division with Centre Federal du Basket-Ball (2015-18). Last season he was teammates with my client Tyrus McGee at Pau Orthez in the FIBA Champions League. Although he wasn't dominant on the hardwood, he did show flashes of potential. The fact that he recorded career-highs against a tough, well-coached MoraBanc Andorra (12PTS, 5-6 FG); and against Lokomotiv Kuban and Lietkabelis Panevezys - while playing for France's top club with a deep guard rotation, shows a lot of promise and improvement.

Usman Garuba (2002, 2.03)

Passport: Spain

Club: Real Madrid (ACB)

Comp: Euroleague

Quick Stats: 13MPG, 2.7PPG, 3.3RPG, 0.7BPG

Outlook: With a frontcourt that includes Anthony Randolph, Felipe Reyes, Gabriel Deck, Trey Thompkins, and Edy Tavares it's only fair to assume the only time Garuba will get to run with Real Madrid is during the pregame warmups. But basketball is probably the most unpredictable and dynamic sport and things change at rapid speed. It also helps to have a coach like Pablo Laso who isn't worried about job security or scared over losing a few games at the expense of growing the next generation. Garuba was already getting some burn in the Euroleague but his numbers didn't take a dramatic hit when Randolph went down with a season-ending injury and Alex Tyus arrived from Galatasaray. Surly Madrid have enough weapons on deck (get it, Gabriel Deck?! Lol), but Garuba - both in the ACB and Euroleague, has shown real promise, great mobility, and a lot of athleticism.

Garuba is another successful product of Madrid's junior academy and won the 2019 Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament, and was named to the All 1st-Team. He's been a pro for three years already and has previously won the 2020 Spanish National Cup and Spanish Super Cup, in addition to the Gold medal at the 2016 European U16 Championship, where he led the tournament in field goal percentage (71.6%). In 2019 he won the European Gold medal for U18 and led the Championship with 12.9RPG.

Unlike Alocen, the front-court load doesn't fall on Garuba's (massive) shoulders, although he's had some real encouraging games in the likes of 11 rebounds vs Armani Milano, 8PTS & 5REB vs Barcelona, plus a 15PTS & 6REB showcase against ALBA Berlin in 28MIN.

Joel Parra (2000, 2.02)

Passport: Spain

Club: Joventut Badalona (ACB)

Comp: EuroCup Top-16

Quick Stats: 14MPG, 3.1PPG, 63% 2P, 77% FT, 2.7RPG

Outlook: Unlike Doncic, Avdija, Madar and Choupas ... who transferred TO their latest Euro clubs and/or countries before their breakout on the big stages, Parra - like Rubio, is a product on the Badalona Juniors Academy all the way to the Senior's roster. A member of the Spanish U16, U17, U18 and U20 National Teams; Parra has collected 1 Gold and 2 Silver medals. He is logged over 200 minutes in the EuroCup this season and has doubled his scoring numbers from 2.4PPG during the regular season (his best game came vs Unics Kazan with 8PTS on 4-4 FG in 15MIN) to 5PPG, 100% FT (6-6), and grabbed nearly a third of his total amount of rebounds in the Top-16 alone, including an eye-opening showcase with 14PTS (5-7 FG, 4-4 FT) against AS Monaco on the road.

My honorable mention goes to ALBA Berlin's Jonas Mattisseck (2000, 1.94)- who logged more minutes in the Euro competition than any player mentioned above. Mattisseck isn't averaging big numbers, but he is fairly dependable shooting 7-8 FT and almost 35% from beyond the arc. His minutes aren't spotty at all, rather 15MPG with a 26-to-11 assist to turnover ratio. ALBA is a solid program for player development as we've seen in recent years and I'm sure Jonas has the basketball abilities and mental toughness to continue to blossom into a legitimate Euroleague guard for many years to come.


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