RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: The Final Cut

RBK Treviso Eurocamp 2006: The Final Cut
Jun 15, 2006, 10:40 am
The 2006 Reebok Eurocamp is as good as done after four intense days that alowed the attendants to get a grasp of a good number of interesting young international players.

We've spoken to a few scouts and there seems to be mixed feelings about this edition. On one hand, we're all missing some first-round material for the upcoming draft, although that's a rare commodity to see in pre-draft camps these days, and some still might reach that status down the road. On the other hand, the average level has been pretty solid, and the camp scored a great success by bringing over Joel Freeland. Virtually nobody knew the English player in advance besides a few Spanish scouts (there were many of them in Treviso), and Freeland in turn emerged as legit draft material.

Personally, despite not liking this kind of meat market that somehow betrays the spirit of what a competitive sport is (I know, I'm a romantic), I must admit that I've somehow enjoyed the experience and found it quite useful to keep track of many youngsters.

Treviso Strikes Back Against Italy

This last day featured a significantly smaller amount of scouts, while the camp roster kept shrinking due to players leaving (such as Halperin, for example). Likely concerned about yesterday's blowout against Croatia, the camp directors changed the plan for the last day, playing a five on five on five transition drill setting instead of the regular games between the camp teams, while resting the players chosen to face Italy, a crop that wisely included Ponkrashov, Shabalkin or Eliyahu.

It did work, and the camp team easily got the victory against a disappointing Italy squad where only Luigi Datome and Luca Vitali did something. Datome took the scoring load of the team, showing some of his excellent shooting touch, with good range and even effective in shooting off the dribble from mid-range. He looked as athletic as always, and pretty quick with lateral defense. Datome will probably be one of the youngsters making some serious noise next season in Europe.

Meanwhile, Vitali showed his excellent skill set, particularly concerning ball-handling and passing. Despite committing many turnovers, he took rather good decisions distributing the ball, being a smart kid who sees the floor really well. He was inconsistent shooting the ball, as usual. And of course, his biggest knock is still his limited athleticism that makes it hard for him to get by other guards. Luca is coming off an excellent season in Premiata Montegranaro (coincidentally, Marquinhos’ former team in Italy) in Lega Due, helping them earn the promotion to the first division for the next season. All in all, he should develop into a very nice player for Europe.

Marquinhos’ Spot

There's no better way to describe the general impression that Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza left in Treviso than our own questioning, in hindsight, of the pertinence of devoting a permanent space to him in these Eurocamp reports.

Nevertheless, his performance in the last day of the camp was pretty solid. His perimeter stroke is nowhere to be found, and he keeps unnecessarily fading away on every shot, but he managed to produce coming closer to the basket, whether with his pull-up mid range jumpers or through slashing moves, where he's looking very quick beating his matchups. Still we miss a bit more of aggressiveness in his game or better team defense.

Rounding Up The Camp

Here are some final comments to complete our coverage of the Eurocamp. You'll need to read all four pieces to get the (our) complete picture.

Mixed feelings about Lior Eliyahu. On one hand, he has looked quite athletic, enjoys a very promising body for the small forward position (he's 6-9 on shoes), has delivered plenty of hustle, actively chasing the boards or going for loose balls, and has been kind of effective near the basket. However, we've greatly missed more of a perimeter game. Lior is playing power forward in Galil Elyon, and that's not helping him to maximize his potential, which is at the small forward position.

Edin Bavcic had a pretty good showing here. He's a perimeter-oriented power forward who stands somewhere between 6-10 and 6-11 on shoes, and who enjoys nice athleticism and a solid enough physical set. He loves to hang around the arc and shoot three-pointers, where he shows nice accuracy and good mechanics. From time to time, he also attacks the basket, showing good handles and nice quickness. He can also be pretty aggressive going for the rebound. However, we miss some inside game, some post skills. Anyway, he's a promising guy that already gets consistent playing time in the Adriatic League with Bosna, but we still are not sold on him.

The surprise of the camp, Joel Freeland, really suffered from the intensity he displayed in Treviso, looking quite tired in the last two days, which made him lose a bit of hustle in his game. This was particularly noticeable in rebounding situations, where he looked less physical, and by the fact that he settled mostly for jumpers instead of looking for some post production. However, I would say that his shooting mechanics did look a bit better by the end of the camp than they did the first day, even if he struggled to make them, probably due to the fatigue. The kid has reportedly been playing basketball for only two years and apparently learns everything extremely quickly (except speaking Spanish).

There were a large group of big men projects in the camp, still so far away from becoming decent players (and with such limited chances) that we'll save our readers the tall-but-soft-and-skinny-good-shooter-and-raw-post-player litany.
However, there's one guy who, even if he's as raw as the rest, who we feel has better chances of developing into something down the road. He is Vyacheslav Kravtsov or Slava Kravtsov, a Ukranian born in 1987. At 6-10 (probably 6-11 in shoes), he's not freakishly tall, but he shows an excellent physical build and frame, enjoying extremely solid athleticism. He did a pretty good job under the rim in terms of rebounding and shot-blocking, displaying remarkable timing in his efforts and good intensity. He's noticeably unpolished in the low post, and very raw in his general offensive game, but he's a name to remember.

The Player of The Camp: Anton Ponkrashov

Our initial intention was to highlight different players everyday in "The Player of The Day" section. That plan went to hell, because Ponkrashov was hands down the best player the final day and overall in the Eurocamp.

Whenever you go to a youth competition (or a camp, for the matter), you hope to find that kind of unique and especial player who reminds you why you love this game. Under our eyes, Anton Ponkrashov went from very good to extremely special here.

After the debacle against Croatia, it was hard to believe in a victory for the camp squad against Italy. But the addition of Ponkrashov was probably one of the biggest difference makers of the so-called Reebok All Stars (besides Italy's own weakness). Suddenly, a bunch of players who had been together for only four days were playing like a real team, benefiting immensely from the impressive passing ability and decision making of the Russian wonder. It was one good decision after another. And he performed an unbelievable array of passes, off the dribble in slashing moves, feeding a cutter, feeding the post, taking the ball out to the arc, coast-to-coast, side-to-side, one-handed, two-handed, straight, bounce passes, over the head, with back-spin, behind the back,... In the words of an NBA scout, watching Ponkrashov in a game equals to a passing clinic.

It's all about mind and execution. Anton visualizes the pass incredibly fast and has the ability to get it done no matter how difficult the situation is. For example, when he's under pressure or double-teamed, he creates separation between himself and his defenders to release a long two-handed pass over his head and over his rivals that always goes to the right place (usually an open man on the other side of the offense). Besides, he's not a ball-hog that just dribbles and dribbles until finding a chance to exhibit themselves in the pass. When Ponkrashov slashes, which he does very well, it's with a defined purpose that will likely mean an advantage for his team.

If I didn't know the guy at all and someone asked me which position does he play just looking at his physical set, I would say power forward. He's that strong and has such a wide frame. But it works for him because he's surprisingly quick and just takes advantage of his strength and size to make things easier. As we said the first day of the camp, he will suffer against quicker guards, but he has been stubbornly proving us that he's not a bad defender, being intense on the ball, moving his feet remarkably quick and wisely using his superior length to come away with some steals. This final day wasn't his best when it comes to shooting the ball, but he has showed us that he's a reliable guy with nice range in his jumper.

It's difficult not to feel skeptical about how well a guy like Ponkrashov can translate his game to such an athletic league as the NBA. He's a heavy-footed player when it comes to getting off the ground, and after all, very few big point guards become really successful. Still, with his skills, strength, intensity and smartness, we shouldn't rule out at all that he makes it to the first round in the following years.

For the moment, he should start getting big-time action for the Russian National Team in its senior version. J.R.Holden and Petr Samoylenko can't really distribute the ball and create game for the team; they are not real playmakers. Ponkrashov is the answer to the Russian pledges, and he's more than enough mature to compete at that level.

Recent articles

5.3 Points
3.2 Rebounds
0.4 Assists
16.4 PER
7.8 Points
1.1 Rebounds
0.6 Assists
13.0 PER
6.9 Points
2.9 Rebounds
6.8 Assists
16.2 PER
14.4 Points
3.8 Rebounds
3.0 Assists
19.3 PER
9.3 Points
7.1 Rebounds
3.7 Assists
12.6 PER
5.0 Points
0.0 Rebounds
0.0 Assists
7.4 PER
2.3 Points
1.4 Rebounds
0.9 Assists
9.7 PER

Twitter @DraftExpress

DraftExpress Shop