2017 Baltic Sea Basketball Cup Scouting Reports
|by: Mike Schmitz
|January 19, 2017
|Scouting reports on 13 of the more notable prospects seen at the 2017 Baltic Sea Basketball Cup (BSBC) in Tallinn, Estonia.
Sander Raiste, 6-7, SF, Estonia U18, 1999
-Nice physical profile for a wing prospect at around 6' 7 with decent length and a strong frame that still has room to fill out.
-Fluid athlete who can play above the rim in transition and the half court
-Long strides as a straight line slasher. Solid first step. Makes an effort to change speeds. Likes to put it down going left, despite being right-handed
-Can play out of a ball screen. Good vision as a passer for a wing. Plays a very unselfish brand of basketball. Role player potential. Active cutter. 66.7 2P%.
-Capable spot shooter with time and space. On balance. Can make a one dribble pull up.
-Has defensive potential given his size and fluidity. Good feet on the ball. Can sit down and slide. Competitive kid. Fairly rangy off the ball. Will rotate from the weakside for blocks. 2.2 steals and 2.2 blocks per 40 minutes.
-High character player who speaks perfect English. Checks a lot of boxes. Plays a fairly mistake free style.
-Very streaky shooter. Needs time and space, a bit slow getting into it, especially off the dribble. Ball doesn't always come out smoothly. Too stiff through the shoulders. Needs to turn himself into a reliable shooter to have an impact at the highest levels.
-Handle is very high and rigid. Good straight line driver but nothing advanced. Not going to change direction. Can be a bit predictable uses a hesitation dribble and drives left more often than not.
-Has a tendency to blend in for stretches. Nice feel but is too willing to defer in settings where he can take over. Can be more aggressive consistently.
-Checks a few boxes but what does he do at an elite level? Not a great shooter. Good not great athlete. Can playmake a little bit but not as a consistent primary ball handler and very little of the advanced variety.
-A bit soft as a finisher around the rim. Doesn't get to the free throw line at a high rate. Will have to add more craft and touch to his game as the level increases.
Raieste stood out as one of the top NBA prospects at the Baltic Cup thanks to his combination of physical tools, versatility and role player potential as a 6' 7 wing. The Tallinn native is in a great place to develop, having signed a five-year (1+2+2) deal with Spanish power Baskonia, where he'll play with their developmental team. Raieste is worth keeping an eye on as a two-way wing prospect, with his development as a shooter being the key moving forward.
Matthias Tass, 6-10, PF/C, Estonia, 1999
-Led the entire cup in PER 48.2 over three games. Averaged 31 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 3.3 blocks per 40 minutes while shooting 77.1% from two and 88.9% from the free throw line. Highest PER in tournament history since we first started tracking the event in 2007 (min. 20mpg).
-Naturally strong frame that has room to grow 6' 10 230 pounds. Solid length
-Moves well for his size. Not a freak athlete but can get up and down. Nimble diving to the rim.
-Really effective as a pick and roll finisher despite not being a regular above the rim finisher. Sets hard screens, shows great timing as a roll man, has fantastic hands, finishes with soft touch using either his left or his right. Keeps the ball high.
-Excellent passer in short roll situations. Has a great feel for the game. High IQ player in general. Can DHO on the perimeter. Patient passer out of the post. Uses both sides of the floor.
-Can score on the block with basic jump hooks and will mix in an occasional counter.
-Shows potential as a shooter. Sound mechanically. Ball comes out smoothly with soft touch and nice rotation. Still gaining confidence in this area but should be able to step out more in time.
-Excellent instincts as a rebounder. Can use his natural size to carve out space. Tips the ball to himself and teammates. Quick to the ball. Plays hard.
-Smart and competitive positional defender. Will battle in the post, holds his ground and stays down on fakes. Good enough feet to hedge and recover out of ball screens. Reads the eyes of the guard in pick and roll drop situations. Active hands. Racks up steals and blocks despite not being an overly explosive athlete.
-High intangibles player. Great student. Good teammate.
-A shade undersized for a center prospect at around 6' 10 tops.
-Strong but could stand to cut up his frame a little bit
-More mobile than explosive. Plays mostly below the rim in the half court at this stage. Good not great length.
-Doesn't stretch the floor all that much right now, although he should improve in the future. Not a consistent threat from the perimeter as a shooter or straight line driver.
-Has a tendency to defer a little bit too often on post touches. Looking to facilitate rather than attack.
-Can score in the post with basic jump hooks but isn't all that advanced, especially against same-sized bigs. Can add more creativity on the block.
-Lack of elite standstill explosiveness could limit him as a defensive rebounder and rim protector at times as the level of competition rises.
-Can improve his ability to defend the perimeter consistently both versus stretch bigs and as a pick and roll switch man.
Tass was far and away the most productive player at the Baltic Cup, as his size, skill level, competitiveness and basketball acumen really stood out. The 17-year-old is quite experienced for his age, having spent last year with Limoges in France and this season practicing (and playing some Estonian League and VTB League minutes) with Kalev. Tass' natural size, basketball IQ, toughness and skill set give him a great framework to build off in the long term. In terms of his NBA outlook, he'll have to continue to develop his jumper and all around scoring repertoire to up his chances, as he doesn't have elite physical tools for an NBA center.
Henri Drell, 6-7, SF, Estonia, 2000
-Impressive size, frame and fluidity for a wing prospect at 6'7. May have even grown an inch or two. Decent length.
-Long strides to the rim in straight line drive situations
-Has potential on the defensive end thanks to his tools and fluidity.
-Shows flashes as a passer when he buys in to playing an unselfish brand of basketball
-Garnered good experience playing up a year with the U18 team at only 16 years old
-Attitude still has a long ways to go. Struggles to control his emotions at times. Suffers from poor body language. Not always a great teammate. Doesn't have a great understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.
-Plays an inefficient, fairly selfish brand of basketball at times. Finished the tournament 1-of-8 from two and 1-of-4 from three. Can be a bit of a ball stopper. Wild style.
-Fluid, not overly explosive athlete.
-Gambles defensively. Doesn't always want to dig in and defend the perimeter.
-Frame still has quite a bit of room to fill out, both in his upper and lower body.
-Doesn't do anything at a high level at this stage
-Stroke is still very streaky. Ball doesn't always come out smoothly.
Coming off of a strong U16s and a long-term agreement with Bamberg, Drell more or less crashed and burned at the Baltic Cup, which hopefully served as a sobering experience for the Estonian forward. Not only did Drell struggle to have a positive impact on the floor, but also his flaws from a mentality standpoint really stood out. His body language and reactions to adversity have a long way to go, as does his ability to play within a team structure. Drell has a lot of talent and is only 16 years old, so hopefully he's able to use an underwhelming Baltic Cup as a wake up call and do everything he can to maximize his potential moving forward, as he's still an intriguing long-term prospect.
Hugo Erkmaa, 6-4, PG/SG, Estonia, 1999
-Strong frame. Good size for a combo guard at 6 4.
-Versatile guard who can score playing both on and off the ball 23.8 points per 40 on 55% from two and 38% from three.
-Biggest weapon is his jumper at this stage. Deep range off the catch and can create space with sharp footwork and a fairly crisp handle.
-Comfortable playing out of ball screens. Can operate at different speeds and hit the roll man or shooters circling up. Prefers to score but can run the show when needed.
-Strong first step. Has the strength to get to his spots on the floor and finish through contact.
-Competes defensively. Will pressure the ball. Strong enough to wall up and contain penetration. Bumps cutters off the ball.
-Son of a coach.
-Plays with a level of swagger and arrogance that can a positive when he's going well and a negative when he's not.
-More of a combo guard than a point guard. Will jack up deep threes early in the clock. Can do a better job of finding a blend between scoring and playmaking. A bit turnover prone.
-Plays off of his jumper. Doesn't have a ton of wiggle with the ball, relies more on his size and strength to get to his spots.
-Not a freak leaper in the half court. Can find more ways to get creative around the rim speed finishes, floaters to neutralize length and athleticism as he sees an increase in competition.
-Good not great shooter. Shoots a hard ball at times. Needs to be more consistent given how much he relies on his jumper.
-Physical defender but struggles with quicker guards when on an island. Previous knee and back injuries may hamper his athletic upside if they continue.
Erkmaa's size, strength, shot making ability and pick and roll potential make him a prospect worth keeping an eye on moving forward. His decision making can be questionable at times, but Erkmaa has talent as a potential lead guard, making him someone to monitor moving forward.
Elias Valtonen, 6-6, SF, Finland, 1999
-Prototypical wing tools at around 6' 6 with a nice frame and decent length
-Good athlete in space. Can finish above the rim in transition or off of straight line drives in the half court
-Very effective straight line slasher when he's fully engaged 68.4% from two. Hard rip throughs from the perimeter, strong first step, long strides. Has the body to finish through contact.
-Projectable stroke although he didn't shoot it great at the Baltic Cup. Solid with time and space. On balance. Can make a one or two dribble pull up. Shooting potential not fully realized, but he has a solid foundation to improve.
-Does a lot of nice little things defensively when he's fully engaged. Will crash the glass. Can rotate from the weakside for blocks, using his tools and athleticism. Covers ground impressively. Decent feet when he digs in. Solid instincts in the passing lanes.
-Will finish high school in only three years rather than four.
-Fits a prototype as an athletic wing who can make a shot, slash and defend a little bit.
-A little bit soft from a mental standpoint. Tends to show up versus lesser competition and go into a shell a little bit versus better teams. Too willing to stand in the corner and float in and out of games. Very effective when he's aggressive but that isn't the case all the time.
-Lacks some toughness defensively. Doesn't always dig in and use his tools like he could. Feet are good not great.
-Will shy away from contact around the rim as a finisher despite his frame and athleticism.
-How good of a shooter is he? Career 29% in 42 games. Shot is a bit mechanical. Can be quicker getting into it.
-Rigid handle. Can straight line drive but doesn't have a ton of wiggle. Not the most comfortable playmaker while on the move 4.9 turnovers per 40.
-Has missed some time with jumpers knee in the past.
In theory Valtonen is a very interesting prospect he has prototypical size, is an above average athlete with a nice frame, he can shoot it a little bit and make plays defensively. With that said, the Finnish wing can do a better job of playing with consistent aggression and toughness in order to maximize his production and potential. Valtonen is expected to go the college route, and it will be very important that he lands in a spot where he won't get lost in the shuffle and is able to develop through playing time and trial and error.
Barra Njie, 5-10, PG, Sweden, 2001
-Nice frame with long arms despite being undersized at the moment at around 5' 10 (although he may be slightly taller)
-Jet with the ball. Dynamic in transition. Quick twitch athlete. Impossible to keep in front at the U16 level. Lives in the lane. Changes speeds and directions on a dime with a slick handle that's quite advanced for his age. Doesn't need a ball screen to get into the paint. Uses hard in and outs and sweeping crossovers to get defenders leaning.
-Doesn't shy away from contact at the rim. Really tough kid. Finishes with either hand around the rim, often in creative fashion. Has a floater he can go to. Same hand-leg speed finishes. Very advanced around the rim for his age.
-Can be a bit turnover prone, but overall has a really nice feel for the game. Will whip it ahead in transition. Hits the roll man comfortably out of ball screens. At his best in drive and dish situations excellent timing. Can throw lobs.
-Plays with a ton of confidence and poise for his age.
-Needs to improve as a shooter but it's not broken. Can make a pull up with time and space. Ball comes out okay, just needs some tweaks in his mechanics.
-Really competitive defensively. Can be very disruptive in the backcourt 5.6 steals per 40. Can get over the top of screens. Quick to loose balls. Makes winning plays.
-Father is 6' 8, brother is 6' 7. Thinks he'll grow to around 6'4.
-Although he's expected to grow he's currently undersized at around 5' 10. Limits his ability to see over the top of the defense. Will telegraph passes 6.1 turnovers per 40. Taken advantage of by bigger guards on the defensive end.
-Lack of a consistent jumper really handicaps him in the half court. Defenses sag off which negates his best attribute his penetrating ability. Shoots it flat. Turns down jumper after jumper. Needs to improve there.
-Can get a little bit wild going to the rim at times. Relies mostly on his quickness to get by. Will he still stand out athletically next to more explosive American guards?
-Never changes his face, which is a positive, but he's also not a very vocal leader. Quiet kid overall, which he'll have to work through as a point guard.
-Upside is very reliant on whether or not he grows.
Njie, whose parents are from Gambia, could very well end up being the best NBA prospect (regardless of age) to come out of the Baltic Cup. He's quick and dynamic with the ball, has a nice feel for the game, is fearless going to the rim, competitive defensively, and is expected to wind up around 6' 4, making him a legitimate NBA prospect. Njie will have to improve his perimeter jumper, but it's not broken and he has plenty of time to iron out some of his issues.
Zaba Bangala, 6-6, PF, Sweden, 2001
-Strong kid at around 6' 6, 220+ pounds. Proportionate frame. Tree trunk legs. Solid length. Physically developed but very young in the face, could still be growing. Just turned 15, youngest player on his team.
-Excellent feet for his size. Nimble running the floor or diving to the rim. Can finish above the rim in space. Steps out and guards the perimeter very impressively when motivated. Quick twitch with big slides.
-Fairly advanced handle in transition for his size. Can grab and go. At his best attacking from the perimeter or mid-post spots. Great body control on spin moves.
-Not a great decision maker but has some vision.
-Really slow release on his jumper but the ball comes out okay with decent rotation.
-Impressive instincts on the glass when motivated. Can find a body and carve out space, quick to the ball. 15.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. Has stretches where he plays with a high motor and is dominant.
-Fairly quick off his feet as a shot blocker. Not a major strength of his but has some instincts and timing when he's engaged.
-Undersized PF/C at around 6' 6. Very young but quite developed, how much will he grow?
-More nimble than freaky explosive. Mostly below the rim in the half court.
-Not all that skilled on the offensive end. Doesn't have a traditional post game. Touch around the rim leaves much to be desired. Very right handed. Not a threat in mid-range spots. Doesn't score efficiently in the half court 40.7% from two.
-Very shaky decision maker. Has some vision but will force the issue, drive into traffic without a plan, or give a teammate a time bomb by putting them in a bad position near the end of the clock. 7.5 turnovers per 40 minutes.
-Defensive effort comes and goes. Motor is inconsistent. Can't trust him fully late in games. Stands and watches at times. Needs to be more consistently engaged as he does show flashes of a high motor.
-Fundamentals on the defensive end have room to improve. Bites on fakes. Reaches on the perimeter. Not a very disciplined player overall.
Outlook Bangala, whose parents hail from Congo but was born in Sweden, is a fairly unique player as an undersized big with impressive agility and flashes of skill that could make an interesting prospect long term. For the time being Bangala, has a long ways to go in terms of his motor, decision making and overall skill level. If Bangala continues to grow and really buys into improving his skills and playing hard all the time, he'll be an intriguing prospect to follow, especially considering his age.
[p=Thomas Exaucia]Thomas Exaucia, 6-4, PF, Finalnd, 2001
-Physical specimen for a 15-year-old. Short for a power forward at 6' 4 but has super wide shoulders, over a 7-foot wingspan, huge hands, big feet and very fluid hips. Although his parents aren't super tall he could still be growing as he's still 15.
-Good athlete who can finish above the rim emphatically in space. Had a few highlight dunks over the course of the three-day cup.
-Very physical. Doesn't shy away from contact at all. Got to the free throw line a ridiculous 20.2 times per 40 minutes.
-Competes on the offensive glass. Quick to the ball. Uses his length well.
-Has the tools to be a versatile defender who may be able to check a wing in time. Fundamentals have a ways to go but he has solid feet and can use his length to get in the passing lanes or alter shots around the rim.
-Natural feel isn't great but showed flashes as a post passer. Could become a weapon once the game slows down for him.
-Undersized given his skill level. Fairly developed physically, may not have much of a growth spurt left.
-Basketball IQ and feel for the game aren't great. Sped up easily. Plays with his head down at times. Makes an effort to play within himself but just doesn't think the game at a high level.
-Doesn't have great fundamentals defensively. Will bite on fakes. Too physical hedging ball screens. Foul prone. Lost off the ball at times.
-Lacks touch around the rim. Struggles with his off hand. Relies mostly on athleticism and physicality. Hands aren't great.
-Not a threat form the perimeter. Seems to lack confidence from the free throw line. Doesn't finish his shot with a hard snap of the wrist. Movement at the top.
-A long ways away from being able to play on the wing, which would be beneficial given his size. Super rigid ball handler.
-Not much of a threat to score on the block, especially versus legitimate size and length. Lacks touch, footwork and creativity.
Exaucia put together a fairly productive cup by simply playing hard and relying on his impressive physical gifts. The Congo native has a really long way to go from a skill and basketball IQ standpoint, but you simply don't see 15-year-olds with his body, length and athleticism very often, making him worth tracking to monitor his physical growth and development as a player.
Jekabs Beks, 6-8, C, German/Latvian, 2001
-6' 8 center with a nice frame that will fill out in time. Strong legs. Should still have another couple of inches in him.
-Very mobile. A bit pigeon toed, but can really run the floor and dive out of ball screens. Nimble.
-Good instincts on the glass. 15.2 rebounds per 40. Always around the ball. Solid length. Taps rebounds to himself and teammates.
-Soft touch from the free throw line 77%. Could turn into a reliable mid-range shooter in time.
-Can make a jump hook when he's able to establish position in the post. Soft hands and nice touch around the rim.
-Shows flashes as a rim protector. Not overly physical but decent compete level. Uses his size and length to alter shots.
-Very intelligent young man who speaks perfect English.
-Nice frame but lacks core strength, especially in the lower body. Gets knocked off spots too easily. Hurts his ability to have an impact in the post.
-Plays mostly below the rim in the half court. Relies more on touch than physical tools.
-Not all that advanced in the post. Footwork is very raw at this stage. Struggles when his space is taken away and he has to play through physicality.
-Decision making has room to improve on the perimeter and out of the post. Plays with his head down at times. Shows flashes as a passer but not all that instinctual right now.
-Very upright guarding the perimeter. Not great laterally. Struggles defending ball screens. Fundamentals have a long way to go.
-Timing as a weakside defender is a bit off. Either rotates too quickly or is a split second too late.
-Not a threat as a mid-range shooter or face up driver at this stage.
-Needs to grow a couple of inches to become a more interesting NBA prospect
Beks is far from a finished product, but at 15 years old with a nice frame, mobility, instincts on the glass, touch and growth potential he's certainly a prospect to keep an eye on. Born and raised in Germany (father is German, mother Latvian).
Kristaps Kilps, 6-3, SG, Latvia, 2000
-Hard-playing, aggressive guard who finished the cup third in scoring at 20 points per game in 27 minutes.
-Average size for a two guard at 6' 3 but a projectable frame with above average length. Good athlete who can play above the rim in space.
-Strong straight line driver who can put it down going right or left. Will finish with either hand. Doesn't shy away from contact. Got to the line a tremendous 14.4 times per 40 minutes.
-Projectable catch and shoot three ball despite a pedestrian percentage. A bit of a low release point but the ball comes out nicely with good rotation. Can also make a one or two dribble pull up with time and space.
-Able to play out of a ball screen as a straight line slasher. Can also make a pull up three if the defense goes under. Has solid touch on floaters. Showed some flashes as a pick and roll passer although he's very much a score first guard.
-Very competitive defensively. Will fly in on the glass (9.4 rebounds per 40). Good feet on the ball. Digs in and takes pride in stopping his man. Racked up quite a few on ball deflections and blocks thanks to his activity 4.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per 40.
-Plays with an edge and passion that you don't always see from players his age
-Average size for a traditional two guard
-Can get a little bit out of control going to the rim. Decision-making has room to improve. Score-first mindset 1 to 4 assist to turnover ratio. Doesn't always play the most efficient brand of basketball.
-Streaky shooter. A bit of a forward jumper who needs time and space to be accurate. Can improve his ability to shoot off the bounce, especially when contested.
-Emotions get the best of him at times. Will lash out at the refs. Passionate play works for and against him.
-Handle is a bit rigid. Would benefit from developing into more of a combo guard given his size.
-Can be very foul prone defensively. Too aggressive.
Kips stood out as one of the better guard prospects at the cup thanks to his athleticism, aggressive nature, potential as a shooter and defensive activity. Kilps, who is playing with Venspils' second team, will need to eventually either grow or refine his ball skills/playmaking to be considered a legitimate NBA prospect but at 15 he has a lot of time to work on his weaknesses. Kilps' two-way game make him an interesting player to follow as he develops in Latvia.
Kaspar Kitsing, 6-5, SG, Estonian, 2001
-Nice size and frame for a 15-year-old two guard at 6' 5. Finished the tournament scoring 28.9 points per 40 on 60% from two and 28.6% from three.
-Solid foundational skill set as he's comfortable playing out of ball screens and has a developable stroke from three and in mid-range spots. Good first step.
-Can play at different speeds. Makes an effort to use both hands around the rim.
-Impressive on ball defender when he digs in. Great feet and sound technique for his age.
-Good not great athlete. Average length.
-Doesn't quite have an elite skill right now. Average stroke, handle and feel. Looking to score rather than playmake for others.
-Not all that physical around the rim. Doesn't get to the free throw line at a high rate.
-Overall game wasn't quite as impressive as his productivity would suggest.
-Somewhat aloof. Not always the best teammate.
The 15-year-old has been playing within the Trento system in Italy for the last couple of years, where he's really developed defensively while polishing his offensive game. Kitsing didn't quite show an elite skill at the Baltic Cup but he's only 15 years old and has a nice foundational skill set to build on moving forward.
Ojars Berzins, 6-3, SG, Latvia, 2001
-A physically mature, polished player, Berzins led the U16 group in scoring at 24.3 points per game.
-At age 15 Berzins has already played a few minutes for Latvian club Valmiera in the Latvian and Baltic Leagues.
-Although undersized for a traditional two guard Berzins is very physically strong for his age at around 6' 3, 195 lbs. He's able to bully his way to the rim against smaller guards at this level.
-Berzins lives off of pull up mid-range jumpers as he gets excellent elevation and is more than comfortable knocking down 18-footers with defenders draped all over him. Shows some flashes from three, although he's much more of a mid-range guy.
-Decent first step on straight line drives. Can use his body around the rim or finish with floaters.
-Can find teammates out of ball screens when he wants to (4.3 assists per 40), although he's much more of a score-first guard.
-Has the size to body up against wings at the U16 level.
-Doesn't appear to be growing or have much room to fill out on his frame. Still 15 but more maxed out than you'd hope physically.
-Not a great athlete. Plays mostly below the rim. Doesn't have much wiggle with the ball. Not going to create much high percentage offense or finish dynamically.
-Plays selfishly at times. Plays with his head down out of ball screens, doesn't even look at the roll man, but rather predetermines his two dribble mid-range pull up.
-Stroke breaks down when he has to extend his range 22% from three. Jump reliant. Ball doesn't always come out smoothly.
-Defensive energy comes and goes. Not all that quick laterally. Relies more on his physicality.
-Upside appears to be limited
Berzins led his age group in scoring and proved a tough matchup for opponents but his long-term upside is as a question mark, as he's quite developed physically, isn't all that athletic, and plays a fairly selfish brand of basketball that isn't very conducive to winning. Berzins is still only 15 so he has time to improve his decision making, extend his range and ramp up his defensive intensity, but at the moment he's getting by more on volume and physicality, which don't translate all that well to higher levels.
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Height: 6' 10"
Weight: 230 lbs.
17 Years Old
Current Team: Kalev , International
21.7 Pts, 9.0 Rebs, 1.0 Asts
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Height: 6' 6"
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