Arturs Zagars, 5-10, PG, Latvia, 2000
-One of the most polished guards at the U16s from a pure skill set standpoint
-Impressive combination of scoring and playmaking ability 20.2 points and 5.8 assists per 40 minutes on 55.6% from 2-point range and 39.2% from 3-point range
-Slick ball handler who uses advanced combo moves to get his defender off balance. Changes speeds and directions regularly. Not a freak athlete but has solid burst that when coupled with his change of pace, allows him to get into the paint.
-Has all types of subtle, veteran-like tricks to get his defender off of him and alleviate pressure. Mature game.
-Able to create space for pull up jumpers three or mid-range with relative ease despite his lack of size.
-Low release point but has excellent touch from the perimeter both off the catch or bounce. Ball comes out smoothly with good rotation.
-Knows how to manipulate a ball screen. Can snake pick and rolls. Freezes the big and forces him to guard two players.
-Lacks tools but is crafty around the rim uses same hand-same foot speed finishes and floaters. Capable with either hand. Shot 13-of-20 on at rim finishes plus floaters in the half court.
-Very confident playmaker who doesn't need to get into the paint to find a teammate. Delivers the ball equally well with either hand. Can make all of the necessary reads out of ball screens roll man, pop man, opposite wing shooter circling up.
-Plays with a level of confidence and poise that's rare for his age
-Very underwhelming physical profile. 5-10 at best with narrow shoulders, a frail frame and a very young face. Behind from a physical development standpoint. How much will he mature?
-Lack of tools hurt him on the defensive end opponents are able to go right at him and get basically wherever they want on the floor. Defensive toughness comes and goes.
-Struggles a bit versus pick and roll blitzes. Can be a bit too loose with the ball at times 4.0 turnovers per 40 minutes. Size hurts his ability to pass over the top versus longer defenders.
-Has some burst, but isn't a freak athlete both in terms of quickness and leaping ability around the rim. How will his game translate as the level of competition continues to rise?
-Impressive shot maker but his low release point and size will make it tough to make shots as consistently with longer athletes defending.
-Super impressive skill set, but his upside is a bit limited at this stage given his lack of tools
Physical tools aside, Zagars was one of the best pure basketball players at the U16 European Championships. Unfortunately, he's quite behind physically and will have to grow and develop to be seriously considered as a legitimate NBA prospect, but it's impossible to ignore his advanced skill set, creativity and poise for a player his age. For Zagars to stand out like he did given his lacking physical profile is a testament to the type of player he is. It remains to be seen what Zagars will do moving forward as he'll likely garner offers from larger European clubs. Wherever he ends up Zagars is most certainly a prospect to track as it's extremely rare to see players his age with his level of skill and poise.