U-19 World Championship Player Evaluations, Part Two

U-19 World Championship Player Evaluations, Part Two
Aug 25, 2011, 02:28 pm
Part two of our breakdown of the top NBA prospects seen at the U-19 World Championships in Riga, including reports on Dyshawn Pierre, Dmitry Kulagin, Sergey Karasev and more.

U-19 World Championship Player Evaluations, Part One

Dyshawn Pierre, 6-6, Small Forward, Canada, 1993
Anderson Collegiate And Vocational Institute

Jonathan Givony

Dyshawn Pierre was one of the youngest players at this event at just 17 years old. Nevertheless, he emerged as one of the most productive players in Latvia, averaging a very efficient 17 points and 8 rebounds on 60% shooting from the field.We wrote about Pierre last summer after watching him at the U-17 World Championship in Hamburg already, and were already fairly impressed back then.

He has good size for a wing player at 6-6 to go along with a nice frame and excellent athleticism. On top of that, he's a major competitor on the defensive end, capable of guarding multiple positions and often battling fearlessly with players much bigger than him inside the paint, which helps explain his gaudy rebounding numbers.

Pierre seems to have improved offensively quite a bit since last year, particularly as a ball handler. He's now capable of creating shots for himself going left or right and scoring in both half-court and transition situations. Rarely one to go out of his element, Pierre kept his turnovers to a minimum and shot a high percentage from the floor, which is impressive considering he was two years younger than many of the players he was playing against.

The next stage in Pierre's development, and one that will likely ultimately decide what type of prospect he becomes long term, is his perimeter shooting. He did not make a single 3-pointer at this tournament and converted just 62% of his free throw attempts.

Because he plays high school in Canada, Pierre's college recruitment has been slow to develop -- his only scholarship offer at the time of the tournament was from Jacksonville University in the Atlantic Sun Conference, (according to Dave Telep). After a productive summer that has likely changed. Although we're not exactly sure to what extent.

Dmitry Kulagin, 6-5, PG/SG, Russia, 1992
Triumph Moscow Region

Jonathan Givony

Dmitry Kulagin came alive for Russia in the most important games of the tournament. In doing so, he proved to be one of the top prospects at the event and possibly the most talented young guard in Europe these days.

Kulagin is a player we wrote about in depth last January, and he did little in this tournament to disprove the notion that he's a highly intriguing prospect for NBA scouts to follow.

Standing 6-5 with a solid frame, Kulagin is a fluid and creative ball handler/passer who can put the ball in the net in a variety of different ways. He made just three of his first 20 attempts from beyond the arc at the tournament, but he converted 11 of his next 20 attempts in the final four games to even out his stat line and give his team a major shot in the arm when it needed it most.

Kulagin made many of his shots in catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble situations – though he was especially adept at making shots off the dribble. He showed unlimited confidence in his abilities and didn't shy away from the moment in the least bit as the games became more competitive.

The young Russian is also a capable pick and roll threat. He was able to create his own shot at will, showing an excellent feel for the game, especially in terms of finding the open man once the defense converged. His ability to make simple passes made his teammates' life much easier, and he did a great job keeping turnovers to a minimum, coughing the ball up just 12 times in 271 minutes over the course of the event. This is particularly impressive considering the amount of responsibility he was asked to shoulder.

The biggest question marks regarding Kulagin's NBA potential are on defense. He showed below average intensity and fundamentals on this end of the floor and has a long ways to go to prove to scouts that he can guard his position in the NBA.

Kulagin's lateral quickness isn't great. He tends to gamble excessively for steals, and he doesn't do a very good job fighting through screens and maximizing the tools he possesses — namely his size and strength — to compensate.

After a productive rookie season in the Russian PBL with Nizhny Novgorod, Kulagin will be moving back to his hometown of Moscow to play for Triumph. The circumstances of his transfer are somewhat under dispute, as some claim that Novgorod decided to cut him due to his affinity for drinking and partying, while Kulagin claims they were simply disgruntled that he elected not to sign a long term contract with them.

Either way, Kulagin's off-court habits will come under the microscope due to the reputation he's garnered, but it's surely not too late to change that considering that he's only 19 years old, and exceptionally talented.

Sergey Karasev, 6-7, Small Forward, Russia, 1993
Triumph Moscow Region

Jonathan Givony

Coming off a very successful season competing against players significantly older than him as a 17-year old at Triumph Moscow Region, Sergey Karasev was one of the leaders of an overachieving Russian team that knocked off Team USA in the quarterfinals and finished an impressive third place in Latvia.

Karasev is a versatile, highly aggressive offensive player. He's a 6-7 left-handed small forward with good size and solid skills.

Having made nearly two 3-pointers per game in Latvia, Karasev is capable of punishing opponents from the perimeter (particularly in catch-and-shoot situations) thanks to his quick release. His shot selection isn't great, though. He took quite a few difficult off-the-dribble jumpers at this tournament and was unable to convert them at a high rate.

On the positive side, Karasev is able to create his own shot off the dribble. He has a solid first step and the ability to get to the rim, especially in transition. His ball-handling skills are still in need of refinement and he could use some added strength to help finish in traffic, but he has the makings of a versatile floor game, which is intriguing considering his size.

Karasev's potential on the defensive end is questionable. He struggles to get in a low stance and doesn't show great lateral quickness. His ability to defend his position will likely play a big role in how much he's able to move up the ladder of professional basketball. It will be interesting to see how he develops on this end of the floor.

Considering he still hasn't turned 18 years old, Karasev's a player teams will likely want to follow in the Russian league over the next few years to see how he develops.

Vladislav Trushkin, 6-7, SF/PF, Russia, 1993
Spartak Vidnoye

Jonathan Givony

The third cog for the highly successful Russian team, Vladislav Trushkin was the one responsible for making many of the most important shots for his team, as well doing a significant amount of the dirty work.

Trushkin stands 6-7, but sees most of his minutes at the power forward position. He is a tough, energetic forward with a nice frame, solid athleticism and a good feel for the game.

Trushkin showed quite a bit of versatility for the Russians. He didn't play a major role offensively, but he contributed in small doses with his ability to post up, shoot jumpers and take his man off the dribble. He's not terribly skilled in any facet of the game at this point, but he shows potential in each of them and he made a couple of very nice passes, which hints at some nice developments to come in the future.

Defensively, Trushkin shows good intensity. He crashed the glass, scrapped for loose balls and competed admirably under the basket. Unless he grows a couple of inches, though, he'll need to show he can step outside and guard the perimeter, something that he isn't able to do at this stage at a very high level.

Trushkin is still in an early stage of his development, particularly in terms of his ball-handling skills and overall polish. It will be interesting to see how his game continues to evolve over the next few years, though, especially in terms of his ability to make the transition to playing small forward.

Marcos Delia, 6-9, Power Forward, Argentina, 1992
Boca Juniors

Jonathan Givony

Marcos Delia, arguably the most important player on an overachieving Argentinian team that reached the championship's semifinals, looks like a player who will surely be able to play professional basketball at a high level down the road.

Standing 6-9, with a nice frame and long arms, Delia has good physical tools for a big man -- even if he's not overly explosive around the basket.

Delia combines fluidity with a great basketball IQ. He shows the ability to score inside with either hand and has very good court vision, finding the open man out of double teams. He showed nice timing crashing the glass at this competition, and was especially impressive in the quarter and semifinals, scoring 16 and 19 points, respectively.

With that said, Delia must improve his skill level and his ability to handle contact in the paint. He wasn't particularly efficient at this competition, making just 45% of his 2-point attempts. He also doesn't show much range on his jumper. He has a long ugly release, and he made just 9 of 20 attempts from the free throw line.

If Delia can continue to add polish to his game and show he's tough enough to defend his position at a high level, he'll have many opportunities to leave his home country for opportunities abroad down the road.

Patricio Garino, 6-5, Small Forward, Argentina, 1993
Montverde Academy

Jonathan Givony

Fresh off his first year in the U.S. at well-respected Montverde Academy, Patricio Garino emerged as one of the best shooters at this tournament. His hot shooting fueled some of his team's most important victories.

Garino doesn't jump off the page in terms of pure talent -- he's about 6-5 with average athleticism -- but he is clearly a major competitor with one very valuable skill in his repertoire.

Garino made lots of big shots for Argentina. He's apable of hitting jumpers with his feet set or off the dribble, and he moves off the ball very intelligently.

Garino is a smart player and a good teammate who has all the makings of a good college player. He puts in good energy on the defensive end and plays with spirit, something that bodes well for him down the road.

To improve his professional outlook, though, Garino will need to become a better ball handler and a more capable shot creator and defender. He currently struggles to score consistently inside the arc, and there are some question marks about his lateral quickness.

Michal Michalak, 6-6, Small Forward, Poland, 1993
Tempcold AZS

Jonathan Givony

On a team built around the star power of 2011 Nike Hoop Summit participants Mateusz Ponitka and Przemyslaw Karnowski, it was the relatively unknown 17 year old Michal Michalak who ended up leading Poland in scoring.

Michalak doesn't look like much on first glance – he has an underdeveloped frame and average athleticism -- but he's a very skilled offensive player who's capable of scoring in a variety of different ways. His jump shot is particularly good, which proved to be absolutely deadly in this tournament — he made 43.4% of his 3-pointers on nearly six attempts per game.

He also showed the ability to create his own shot from time to time, even changing directions with the ball en route to the hoop. However, he clearly has work to do on his scoring efficiency inside the arc, as evidenced by his 42.6% conversion rate on 2-point attempts.

Michalak is a confident player who isn't afraid to take on responsibility on the offensive end. Like many young prospects, though, he still needs to work on understanding his limitations and improving his all-around polish.

Defensively, Michalak shows toughness but lacks the length and lateral quickness to hold his own at an elite level — something he has plenty of time to work on.

Michalak's performance at the U-18 European Championship was solid but not quite as impressive as at the U-19s in Latvia, which may temper enthusiasm about his potential somewhat. He did, however, show this summer that he's a player to keep an eye on. He took a big step in his career recently by moving up to the Polish 1st division. It will be interesting to see what kind of playing time he'll get against players who are much older than he is.

Edited by Patrick Crawley, Managing Editor of Basketball Fiend.

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