Top 10 prospects in FIBA Europe Cup
MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - There is a wealth of elite basketball talent in the FIBA Europe Cup this season, with a number of top European prospects representing teams participating in the competition.
On the one end, there are rock-solid contributors such as Mathias Lessort, Martynas Echodas, while to the likes of younger players like Bathiste Tchouaffe and Adam Mokoka still have quite a way to go in terms of development.
We ranked the Top 10 most intriguing prospects in the FIBA Europe Cup, looking both at their current production and their long-term prospects in determining the final list.
1. Mathias Lessort (208-C-1994; Nanterre 92)
The slightly undersized, yet exceptionally athletically gifted, 205 cm center from Martinique has already demonstrated his ability to make an impact on both ends of the floor for a winning team.
The 21-year-old big man is averaging 7.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and a stellar 1.8 blocks for the undefeated Nanterre 92 team in just under 20 minutes per game.
Among the potential names to be called in the 2017 NBA Draft, Lessort has seen a bump both in minutes and production, comparing to last season with Elan Chalon.
2. Martynas Echodas (206-PF-1997; Siauliai)
Although his FIBA Europe Cup season is already over, 19-year-old Martynas Echodas was one of the brightest stars of the Regular Season and the only bright spot for the struggling Siauliai side.
On loan from Zalgiris Kaunas, the talented Lithuanian big man averaged an impressive double-double of 16.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game and remains the top rebounder in the league to this day.
After a relatively slow start of the Regular Season, Echodas picked up pace as it went along and hammered in his best performance, a 30-point, 14-rebound outing against Pardubice, in the last week of action before being eliminated.
3. Elie Okobo (188-G-1997; Pau-Lacq-Orthez)
Elie Okobo was a quiet contributor for Pau-Lacq-Orthez in limited minutes at the start of the FIBA Europe Cup season, but a recent injury to shooting guard Ron Lewis opened up a bigger role for the the up-and-coming guard.
The 19-year-old made the most out of his opportunity, erupting for 20 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists against Pardubice and posting solid numbers against U-BT Cluj-Napoca the next week.
Although the uptick in minutes may prove to be short-lived with Elan Bearnais adding American guard Anthony Goods, Okobo did show coach Eric Barthecky he is ready for a bigger role.
Playing against opponents a year older than him, the combo guard was the third best scorer in the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship in Helsinki, where he averaged a stellar 18.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
4. Axel Bouteille (201-SF-1995; Elan Chalon)
Elan Chalon small forward Axel Bouteille has been among the more effective young players in the competition, playing double-digit minutes in all eight of the French side’s games.
One of only 12 players in the competition with a 30-point game this season, the 21-year-old Frenchman is averaging a solid 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game in the FIBA Europe Cup.
Having been part of Elan Chalon’s run to the Final Four last year, Bouteille has earned even more trust from coach Jean-Denys Choulet this season, seeing a healthy bump in minutes.
5. Regimantas Miniotas (206-PF-1996; Vytautas)
After winning silver with Lithuania in the 2016 FIBA European Championship in Helsinki, Regimantas Miniotas has transferred his multi-skilled game to the FIBA Europe Cup without any major setbacks.
While his numbers may be slightly inflated due an unsustainable 67% from the field, the 20-year-old Vytautas Prienai-Birstonas big man is averaging 8.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game and is showing off his Swiss Army Knife versatility on both ends of the court.
6. David Skranc (203-F-1996; Pardubice)
One of the few young players in the FIBA Europe Cup averaging more than 20 minutes per game, David Skranc has had an important supplementary role on a generally relatively young Pardubice roster.
Mostly used as a floor-stretching four-man by the team’s play-caller Levell Sanders, the athletic combo forward is averaging 7.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game and has made a proficient 41% of his three-pointers this season.
7. Mario Ihring (192-PG-1998; Prievidza)
Mario Ihring returned to his native Slovakia on loan from Italian side Capo d’Orlando in order to get more playing time and some valuable international basketball experience with Prievidza in the FIBA Europe Cup.
A nice option off the bench for coach Miljan Curovic, the 18-year-old playmaker is averaging 6.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.6 turnovers in 17.1 minutes per game in the FIBA Europe Cup.
In spite of still being quite turnover prone at this stage of his career, Ihring has managed to hold his own against more experienced opposition and is slowly making a name for himself.
A heady playmaker, who excels in pick-and-roll situations, Ihring led the Slovakian national team to a third-place finish in the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championship Division B, thereby earning a spot in Division A.
8. Bathiste Tchouaffe (196-SG-1998; Nanterre 92)
Named on the 2014 FIBA U16 FIBA European Championship All-Tournament team two years ago, Bathiste Tchouaffe was a solid contributor for Les Bleus in their repeat run to gold in the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championship in Samsun.
Although the 18-year-old shooting guard did not receive any individual accolades this time around, he still averaged 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 1.3 steals per game and was one of the key players both in the Semi-Final against Italy and the gold-medal game against Lithuania.
While the production isn’t there yet in the FIBA Europe Cup for Tchouaffe, who is averaging 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in two appearances, the shooter definitely deserves a mention and gets a nod from us in advance as someone who will be a difference-making player for Nanterre in a couple of years time.
9. Viktor Pulpan (191-PG-1996; Pardubice)
Viktor Pulpan played on some of the same Czech junior teams as his Pardubice teammate David Skranc and Martin Peterka, who is practicing his craft in the Basketball Champions League (BCL) with CEZ Nymburk.
Despite having his ceiling limited by a lack of athleticism, the 20-year-old point guard has carved out a 25-minute back-up role for himself and has made solid all-around contributions, averaging 6.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
A smart ball-handler with a good understanding for the game, Pulpan will need to cut down on his turnovers, currently at 2.1 per game, but the future is bright for the Czech playmaker.
10. Adam Mokoka (192-SG-1998; BCM Gravelines)
Although still not a regular part of BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque rotation, Adam Mokoka had a superb showing at the 2016 FIBA U18 European Championship in Turkey, where he won gold with his Les Bleus teammates, including Bathiste Tchouaffe of Nanterre.
It was arguably the 18-year-old’s best tournament for France, with the shooting guard averaging 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game in 27.4 minutes per game.
Mokoka has only played 20 minutes in three FIBA Europe Cup appearances this season, going 1-of-4 from the field during his time on the court for a total of 3 points. However, bigger things are in the future for the talented Gravelines youngster.