, an emerging youngster in the Spanish front who has managed to establish himself in Alta Gestión Fuenlabradas rotation in the last couple of months. Blanco is an athletic 6-5 shooting guard born in 1985, already a useful player in a very strong league as the ACB, but who also enjoys nice long-term potential.
Saúl is a very well built player, showing a great frame and already notable strength to go along with the aforementioned athleticism, which certainly makes up for his relative lack of size. Hes a rather fluid guy in terms of physical expression. Skill wise, hes a work in progress, but with some significant results. He enjoys three-point range, with increasingly solid accuracy in spot-up situations. He can go for the mid-range jumper, even in off the dribble fashion, although he needs to gain consistency here. Surely intriguing is his ability to beat his match-up off the dribble. Although showing improvable ball-handling skills, hes talented enough to get by his defenders going both ways, displaying a nice first step and long strides while slashing to the basket. Blanco doesnt seem very confident finishing around the rim against opposition, which is something he should seriously work on; given his athleticism, he should learn to take advantage of his strong body to finish creatively with layups off contact and even gain some and-one plays in the process.
[c]Saul Blanco taking part in a slam-dunk contest early this season[/c]
Anyway, when Saúl drives towards the basket, his first option is dish the ball. Fortunately, hes a very nice passer, as he easily finds his open teammates and enjoys a quick mind to take decisions, therefore becoming a sort of catalyst (up to a certain degree) of his teams offensive game. Everything is in place for Blanco to play good defense, and actually he does a fine job in this department, even if his lateral quickness doesnt always keep up with his overall athleticism.
Although he was part of the Spanish National Teams in youth categories, Blanco never really stood out that much in order to draw serious attention. He spent three years in Siglo XXI (a national basketball school in the line of the French INSEP that also produced the likes of Fran Vazquez or Sergio Rodríguez), and a couple of seasons in the LEB, the Spanish second division.
This is the second season in the top Spanish competition for Saúl, but injuries and lack of playing time hurt his consistency. March meant a turning point for him, particularly a game against Polaris World Murcia, where he scored 20 points with excellent percentages (5/6 from the three-point land). Prior to that game, Saul had achieved a combined 1/7 shooting behind the arc in 16 games of the regular season; since then, he credits a terrific 12/21 (57%) in just 8 games, although those are mostly open static shots. In that very same span, he averages 10 points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists (5.5 in the last 2 games), always staying on the court for over 20 minutes per game.
These are not spectacular numbers, and to be selected in the draft doesnt look a realistic option at this point. Saúl needs to become more of an offensive force, showing more aggressiveness while attacking the rim and improving his versatility and accuracy while shooting the ball. Still he would be a very interesting player to showcase in a setting like the Treviso EuroCamp, where he might be able to turn some heads.