RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: Day Two

RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: Day Two
Jun 13, 2006, 09:30 am
The second day of the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso arrived with little changes in the general landscape. Following a similar scheme of drills in the morning and games in the evening, the novelty comes in the form of a daily real game against a U-20 National Team. Unfortunately, the first feature was Finland, a very weak opponent for the young squad put together for the occasion. Croatia and Italy are expected to bring a lot more interest in the remaining days.

Camp Vitals

In our previous report from Treviso we already reported some of the player measurements taken in the first day of the camp. Let’s dig a bit deeper today.

Even if all heights should be taken with a grain of salt, the tallest player measured here has been Roman Gumenyuk (7-3 ¾ with shoes), who is once again participating in the camp, but who has barely shown any improvement from what he displayed last year, according to our Italian collaborator Marco Fracasso. His game screams raw any way you look at it, and so does his skinny body. He looks very unpolished in the low post and gets constantly pushed around by stronger rivals, while his frame doesn’t look too promising. Roman is still young, but he should be already showing some meat in his game. He can’t live forever off his supposed potential.

Yesterday, in our comment on Anton Ponkrashov’s brilliant performance, we committed an unforgettable omission describing him. The guy enjoys really a poor vertical, indeed the worst in the camp by far according to the published results. He could only achieve 16 inches in the no-step vertical and 21 inches in the one-step. However, he has certainly picked up the best position on the floor--point guard-- to hide this flaw, but it’s certainly a serious knock on his potential that deserves to be highlighted.

Various players tied for the highest leaping mark, but the most interesting one is Mantas Kalnietis, a point guard who needs to gain maturity in his game. He’s really struggling here when it comes to distributing the ball and shooting from the perimeter, and even if he can do better as he showed with Zalgiris this season, there’s serious work to do. But he’s a talented kid who plays the game with passion and enjoys excellent tools with his 6-5 body in shoes and 37 inch one-step vertical leap, as he takes care of constantly proving by flying on both ends of the court.

The other high flyer of the camp when it comes to showcasing himself (indeed the main one, as he does it excessively in my opinion), is Rudy Mbemba, who settled for a 36 one-step vertical jump. He’s a small (6-0 in shoes), very quick and strong point guard who loves to push the ball up the floor, shows flashes of some court vision and passing ability, also enjoys some shooting touch with good range, but struggles making good decisions and shows some selfishness. Indeed, he looks a bit like an American point guard.

In terms of wingspan, Olivier Gouez led the crop with a 7-6 mark. He’s one of the biggest players here at 7-3 on shoes, but he’s a pretty unathletic and unpolished post player, despite being a 1984 born player.

Much more interesting is Ali Traore, who closely follows him with a 7-5 wingspan, and leads the camp in wingspan/size ratio, as he’s only 6-10 in shoes. Traore enjoys a remarkable physical build, as he’s very strong both in the lower and upper body. He’s also quite athletic, having achieved 25 inches in the no-step vertical leap. He has some skills, being able to use both of his hands, although not in the same situations. When it comes to attacking his rivals and deliver a layup or a semi-hook (rather hard to stop in the release precisely because of his massive arm length), he prefers to go left and use his left hand. However, he’s a right-handed guy when it’s the time to shoot the ball. It’s really a strange combination, which anyway makes him predictable. Traore should really try to spread his post moves and work on his footwork, but he has some serious tools to play the game.

Big-Man Standout: Joel Freeland

With so many wannabe wings, softies, eternally-promising-physical freaks or directly mediocre post players, Joel Freeland has emerged as one of the most interesting big man in the camp, enjoying solid foundations to realistically evolve into a very nice player.

Starting with a 6-11 frame in shoes, although paired with an average 6-10 wingspan, he’s very nicely built as shows some interesting strength on a solid frame that should allow him to add the required weight to play at a high level of competition. He has very solid athleticism in terms of quickness, leaping ability (26 inches in static fashion, 29 in the one-step) and reactivity, while showing excellent coordination that should make it very easy for him to assimilate new moves.

The skill part is also there, even if he is still a bit raw. Joel has shown some shooting touch from the mid-range area, and although he’s still rather inconsistent, his mechanics look promising. He can also produce in the low post, having the ability to use both hands and enjoying some soft touch, even if again he needs to work here, gaining more moves and more polished footwork. He can also put the ball on the floor, easily finishes strong under the rim, looks aggressive on defense, either denying the ball to his matchup or actively looking for the block, and also does good work passing the ball out of the low post or from the high post. He’s smart and plays with intensity, quite a nice combination. He should actively work on getting a complete power forward game, as he's not big enough to excel as a center, but he looks to be on the right way.

Freeland is coming off spending a season playing in EBA (Spanish fourth division) with Gran Canaria Fadesa, where he averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds. He has declared for the upcoming draft, although he would probably be way better off withdrawing and trying to work his game into the first round in the following years, as he is only a 1987-born kid. If he decides to stay, some team might take a long look at him late in the second round. For the moment, he has agreed to a three-year contract with Gran Canaria Grupo Dunas (the ACB team), a solid and established organization which is perfect to help develop him, but he can freely leave for the NBA if he gets love in the draft. The kid apparently really wants to try there, although in a position where he can keep progressing.

Marquinhos Spot

This was a better showing for Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza in the second day. The Brazilian recovered his perimeter stroke and even his jumper looked better in terms of mechanics, staying a bit more balanced while releasing his shot. It’s remarkable to see how easily he can fire over his matchup thanks to his size, elevation on the release and fade-away move if necessary.

Besides, while Marquinhos had clearly abused one on one situations in the first day, taking his time to execute them while his teammates simply stood watching him (which also tells you something about the special status he has here as a potential first rounder), yesterday he looked much more integrated in the offensive flow of his team, waiting for the game to come to him instead of forcing situations.

It’s also interesting to note that, on tune to what most guys are showing in the camp, he’s delivering a nice effort in the defensive end, which contrasts with his days in Montegranaro, where he used to look a bit passive in some situations, particularly team defense.

The Players of The Day: Kalve and Halperin

In this second day of the camp, we couldn’t stick to just one guy after both Ernests Kalve and Yotam Halperin had delivered such solid outings that greatly helped their respective squads to come up victorious in the evening games.

The local boy (Kalve plays for Benetton Treviso) executed to perfection in various in-game situations, showing a remarkable combination of athleticism and skills. He enjoys the prototypical tools that you look for in a wing. While he’s 6-8 in shoes, he displays nice athleticism in terms of explosiveness, quickness and leaping ability (36 inches in the one-step vertical, 27 in static mode). His body looks very promising, showing nice strength and the potential to seriously add more.

Fortunately, Kalve is not only about physical gifts. A solid shooter, he enjoys accurate mechanics and excellent elevation. He’s a decent ball-handler and can penetrate using his very good footwork, while he has the physical ability to finish strong, as he repeatedly showed yesterday with some remarkable dunks (easily finishing an alley-oop, a rather long slam-dunk in transition or another one in traffic challenging a rival). However, when it comes to creating his own shot, he still needs to learn how to effectively create separation between himself and the defender, but he should catch up soon, as he can easily knock down shots while pulling up off the dribble. Defense and intensity have been there too.

All in all, Ernests is playing some serious basketball these days, emerging as one of the better wing prospects in the camp, and already one of the most productive despite his youth, as he’s as 1987 player.

Our other guy, Yotam Halperin has finally emerged as a true leader on the court, catalyzing the offensive game of his squad. He’s one of the most seasoned and experienced players here, and in a camp so infested with guards with little-to-no distributing abilities, it’s refreshing to see Yotam evolving on court even if he’s indeed a combo guard.

After an average first day, where he looked for his own shooting opportunities, Halperin was much more willing to share the ball in day two, attracting defenses in penetration or pick-and-roll sets to feed the open man. The guy is so skilled it’s a please to watch him dribbling the ball, delivering a pass or taking one of his perfect-pictured jumper. It’s pure silk.

The results of the vitals for him looked nice as he reached 27 inches in the in no-step vertical with a 31 one-step. He’s looking fairly quick here, although it’s crystal clear that he’s not on par with the average NBA point guard. But talent as his will always eventually draw attention in the second round.

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