Roundup: Exploding De Colo

Roundup: Exploding De Colo
Feb 07, 2008, 11:55 am
Player of the Week: Nando De Colo

French guard Nando De Colo exploded this past week for a 37-point performance in the FIBA EuroCup. His offensive effort, nicely rounded out with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals, paved the way for his team’s victory over Barons, although it was ultimately a futile effort, as the French squad failed to qualify for the next round.

De Colo is a bit of a late bloomer, a guy who didn’t play with the French Under-16 or 18 National Teams. Born in 1987, last season he already enjoyed consistent playing time with Cholet, and during the past summer, he emerged as the leader on the U-20 National Team. This season, he’s established himself as an important player in the French League, where he averages 12.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 28 minutes per game. He even made the All-Star game, starting alongside the likes of Nicolas Batum and Marc-Antoine Pellin.


A pretty skilled combo guard, De Colo provides both solid passing ability and notable scoring power. Standing 6-5, enjoying a nice frame, but average in terms of athleticism, he shows a pretty nice physical profile for European basketball. Not very explosive, he takes advantage of his ball-handling skills, footwork and screens to slash towards the basket. He’s a solid shooter with range out to the three-point line, also being able to knock down shots off the dribble. Able to find his teammates off the drive, he shows nice court vision, while he emerges aggressive on the fastbreak.

Although De Colo can eventually overdo himself if he feels confident, as it happened in the game against Barons, he’s a pretty heady guy who seems to play beyond his age. He’s not oozing with untapped potential, but seems like a very interesting player in the making. It wouldn’t be surprising if he moved to a bigger squad next season, where NBA scouts could take a closer look at him before he becomes draft-eligible.

A Look at…Anton Ponkrashov

Loaned from CSKA to Khimki, Ponkrashov is finally finding regular playing time to display his game at a high level. Indeed, Khimki is a very strong squad, head-and-shoulders the second best team in the powerful Russian League, tied with Pamesa Valencia leading their ULEB Cup group, and enjoying a deep and talented roster (with some familiar names for the American fan such as Maciej Lampe, Daniel Ewing or Pat Burke). It’s not like Anton has taken a huge step back in terms of the competitiveness he faces.

Precisely this past week, Ponkrashov faced the team that owns his rights, CSKA, delivering 17 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists that left Khimki on the verge of stunning the Russian powerhouse. It’s not his most typical performance, as Anton is more of a pass-first point guard. Averaging 4.4 assists per game between the Russian Superleague and the ULEB Cup, he’s a guy with notable ability to find the open man, effective in the pick and roll, prolific with kick-out passes, and who takes advantage of his size to better see the court and execute his passes over his rivals.

2910[c]Photo: Khimki[/c]

At 6-7 and strongly built, he’s obviously not an orthodox playmaker. On the other hand, he’s not very athletic, particularly in terms of his leaping ability (highly underwhelming). Still, he can move his feet pretty fast, and he can even challenge smaller guards on defense, showing nice lateral quickness.

Back to the offense, one of the reasons why Ponkrashov is not a very prolific scorer is the fact that he’s extremely left-handed when it comes to putting the ball in the net. When he goes right, he almost always passes the ball, even forcing the delivery, unless he’s completely open. Everybody knows it, and he’s constantly invited by his defenders to attack with his off hand. Actually, in the game against CSKA he executed a successful slashing move from the right side, took the steps for a wide open layup and, when it came to release the ball, he awkwardly used his left hand despite having last touched the floor with his left foot and having his right knee elevated.

In the end, many of his points come off jumpers that he can take off the dribble. He’s coming up inconsistent shooting from the three-point line, but looks pretty reliable from mid-range distances.

Although generally displaying a nice level this season, Ponkrashov still shows up tentative at times. He doesn’t completely trust his scoring skills, which might affect to some degree the aggressiveness he displays running the offense, and therefore, his effectiveness there. Anyway, it’s just a matter of gaining maturity, confidence and experience.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Hot

Nikola Pekovic kissed a splendid Euroleague Regular Season goodbye with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance, followed by his 15 points and 2 rebounds in the Adriatic League. It was a successful week, as both games ended up in Partizan’s bag. Indeed the victory against Fenerbahce-Ulker was only the second triumph on the road in the Euroleague for the Serbian team in their way to the Top-16 round. Meanwhile, Hemofarm was their victim in the Adriatic League, which leaves Partizan as the lone leader in the competition, being one game ahead of Zadar and with an unprecedented 5-victory margin over the second best Serbian team. Of course Pekovic has to be given a lot of credit for his team's extremely solid display so far this season.

Ante Tomic keeps delivering increasingly consistent outings both in the FIBA Eurocup and the Adriatic League. In the continental competition he had 19 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks helping Zagreb to overcome Olympia. In 8 games, he averages 13.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists, never falling under the 9-point mark. In the Balkan league, he settled for 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, still not enough to beat Zadar. Anyway, in the last 17 games of the Adriatic League, he has only once failed to reach double digits in scoring, while he’s netting 64.1% of his field goals.

Pau Ribas, who scored 17 points in the ACB this past weekend for DKV Joventut against Valladolid. He’s gaining more confidence in his role on the team these days, despite his youth. He’s a solid shooter and an able scorer, but he needed minutes to be able to show his abilities on the court.

State of the Prospect: Who’s Not

Despite a promising season start, Jure Lalic is struggling lately. While his team Zadar keeps winning games, he only averages 2.6 points and barely played 10 minutes in each of the last 5 matches. Actually, his season scoring average has dropped from 11 points per game to 9.5. For a rather relatively unathletic big man like him that is automatically eligible in the upcoming draft, this might eventually mean losing any hope of being selected.

Rounding Up…

Ricky Rubio has just been awarded with the FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year. The poll, voted by fans, journalists, players and coaches, ended as follow:
1. Ricky Rubio
2. Milos Teodosic
3. Marco Belinelli
4. Kosta Koufos
5. Danilo Gallinari
6. Milan Macvan
7. Nicolas Batum
8. Alexey Shved
9. Vladimir Dasic
10. Mladen Jeremic

They are all recognizable names, although it’s a bit surprising to see Macvan falling so low. His impressive MVP performance at the U-19 World Championships and the way he led Serbia to the continental title at U-18 category probably deserved a better outcome.

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