RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: A First Look

RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: A First Look
Jun 12, 2006, 01:19 pm
Special thanks to Marco Fracasso for his thoughts, inputs and great help.

Once again, is attending the Reebok Eurocamp that annually takes place in the impressive facilities of La Ghirada in Treviso. It’s an excellent opportunity to take a look at a large amount of international prospects that are not always easily reachable for extended playing time with their teams.

The camp runs for four days, orchestrated with various different drills in the morning and a few games in the evening. While the games are the most interesting feature, for the purist is a sort of basketball perversion. With an audience almost exclusively made by scouts, teams built in one day from players coming from many different places and referees not calling 90% of the fouls, games become a wild world where everybody kills each other and the main concern for the youngsters rests in exhibiting themselves. It’s certainly not pretty, but it’s still quite useful.

Roster Changes

From the list we made public several days ago with the list of participants, some names have dropped. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most interesting ones. Nemanja Aleksandrov and Danilo Gallinari were supposed to be some of the biggest attractions. Alenksandrov hasn’t played a single game this season due to a knee injury. He has recovered now, and has recently signed with Red Star for the next campaign, but perhaps it wasn’t the best moment for him to show up after being sidelined for so long.

Although he’s in Treviso, a foot injury hasn’t allowed Gallinari to take part in the camp, and he’s even doubtful to make the Italian junior team in time to play the European Junior Championships next month. Also, Yannick Bokolo and Pape-Philippe Amagou, both declared for the upcoming draft, couldn’t make it for a more positive reason: both are playing in the French League Finals with Le Mans.

Also a scheduling issue has left Cheik Samb out, as he just finished playing the final stage of the U-20 Circuit in Spain on Saturday. The calendar of this competition has probably damaged the Eurocamp’s ability to recruit prospects from Spanish teams, with only Michal Chylinski showing up in Treviso.

On the other hand, the camp has added a couple of really interesting guards in Yotam Halperin, who is a possible second-round pick for the upcoming draft, and Mantas Kalnietis, a very intriguing Lithuanian point guard who already has delivered some noticeable performances for Zalgiris this season.

Eurocamp Getting Older

In the new age limit era of the draft, the Eurocamp has significantly grown older. With Gallinari in the stands, there’s no player on the court born later than 1987. That means no junior players at all, while other editions of the camp featured even cadet kids.

With the very top international draft prospects staying out of the camp as usual, this means a significant hit in the potential showcased here. However, it really helps to stay focused on the youngsters who are old enough to declare, as well as to get a more homogenous (age-wise) and better prepared crop.

Marquinhos’ Spot

No player here draws as much attention as Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza does. He’s the only guy with the potential to land in the first round in the upcoming draft, except possibly Yotam Halperin. However, his first day here hasn’t helped that much to achieve that goal.

This has been a really awkward season for Marquinhos. Free of his contract from Scavolini Pesaro after this historic Italian team went bankrupt last summer, he played early in the season for one of the worst teams in a very weak regional league in Brazil, just to devote himself during the last months to individual training for the NBA draft.

Much like what happened with Marko Tomas in the previous season, it looks like those reports about Marquinhos becoming some kind of point forward were a bit out of place. His ball-handling and passing do look improved from what we had seen in Lega Due in the 2004/05 season, but getting stats in a lousy team while playing the point does not automatically turn anybody into a playmaker for high competition.

Still we have a very intriguing 6-10 wing with a nicely built body and some serious skills. Besides the aforementioned improved ball-handling and passing ability, where he takes advantage of his superior size to see the court over his rivals, we’ve learned in Treviso that he’s making some strides as a slasher, an area where he had showed a lot of room for improvement last season. Using his handles, a long first step and solid quickness (remarkable for a guy of his size), Marquinhos shows better decision making attacking his rivals off the dribble, although he still shows problems finishing successfully near the rim. His ability to deliver layups is limited, and he’s not really dunking the ball. The result of the vitals might be pretty illustrating for this matter: Marquinhos only managed to reach 26 inches in the one-step vertical jump, settling for only 20 in the static vertical jump. Of course the kid can dunk the ball, but it’s clear that he’s not a high flyer.

Anyway, we’ve also seen Marquinhos using his size to post up smaller matchups, releasing over them a pretty much unstoppable turnaround jumper with a fade-away. The funny thing about it is that his spot-up jumper doesn’t look much different even if he’s widely open, because he always gets unbalanced in the air. Regardless, Marquinhos is heralded as a very solid shooter, but that’s not what he showed yesterday, going off for a horrible shooting series in the evening.

Vinicius clearly looks head and shoulders ahead of everybody in terms of potential, but we want to see him translating that potential into a somehow dominant performance. Let’s remember that he’s not 19 years-old anymore.

Small Bites

This year, the Big Man Camp takes place during the same days as the Eurocamp. The result has been a massive desertion of the best prospects, who prefer to showcase their abilities in the Eurocamp and not get burned by running at both camps at the same time.

The tragedy flied over La Ghirada when Leonardo di Pacce Dos Santos, also known as Morro, exploded for a heart-wrenching shout that left the gym silent. He twisted his knee and was rolling around on the floor in pain. Fortunately, there’s apparently nothing serious and he will be able to come back after a few days to keep trying to convince some team to take him in the second round, although the Eurocamp is over for him.

The Player Of The Day: Anton Ponkrashov

Ponkrashov was billed in advance as one of the most interesting players to see in the camp. He has had his coming out party last summer by playing a decisive role in Russia’s triumph in the U-20 European Championships, and he even made it to the Senior National Team for the 2005 Eurobasket. This last season, he earned major playing time in the Russian SuperLeague with Spartak St. Petersburg.

Anyway, contrary to Marquinhos, Ponkrasov is a real playmaker in spite of his 6-7 size (listed here as 6-8 with shoes), and his body that looks like that of a forward’s. He sees the court really well, easily being the best passer of the camp, at least from what the competition allows the players to show. In the end, with everybody constantly going up and down the court, and offenses lasting a few seconds, it’s hard to evaluate the players’ ability to distribute the ball and set the proper game rhythm. So for Anton, much more than distributing the ball, it has been a matter of delivering the definitive pass, where he has succeeded by showing excellent court vision and timing dishing the ball, both in the set offense and in transition.

Ponkrashov is a quicker player than his physical build would suggest. He has a surprisingly mature and quite strong body, with broad shoulders, more like what power forwards show at these early ages (he’s only 20 years old after all). His lateral defensive movement is not bad, but still he suffers staying in front of quick guards, even if he delivers pretty good intensity. Also, his size doesn’t help him to handle the ball comfortably whenever he’s defended by a small, quick and aggressive player, although he rarely gives up the ball.

Left handed, Anton looked a bit predictable when he slashed to the hoop. Driving to the left, chances are he will try to finish himself with a long layup; if he drives to the right, he usually settles for either a reverse move to regain his left or a pass. His perimeter shooting looked reliable, even off the dribble, rounding quite an intriguing skill set.

Ponkrashov’s biggest rival for this “award” was his countryman Nikita Shabalkin, an all-around power forward with an impressive skill set that we already had seen in Zaragoza in the summer of 2004. He can evolve in the low post thanks to his great footwork, he knows how to finish near the basket, has a very effective jumper, can pass the ball or put the ball on the floor, and he’s smart, tough, and shows plenty of character… basically the complete package. However, his combination of size (6-9 on shoes, although with a 7-1 wingspan) and athleticism seriously damage his stock. Still, he should become an excellent player in Europe.

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