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A baker's dozen of players who could be 20 years and younger at FIBA EuroBasket 2021
REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - In the "exit expert analysis" piece following the FIBA EuroBasket 2017, the other FIBA writers and myself were asked for a prediction for FIBA EuroBasket 2021. This column is an extension of that. There were 13 players 20 years or younger at the 2017 tournament. Here is an attempt to name 13 players of that same category for the 2021 event.
Before we get into the future list, let's just name quickly the 13 players from Helsinki, Tel Aviv, Cluj-Napoca and Istanbul. The list is topped by 18-year-old All-Star Five selection Luka Doncic of Slovenia. The youngest player was Georgia's Goga Bitadze.
The others were Dragan Bender of Croatia, Lauri Markkanen of Finland, Isaiah Hartenstein of Germany, Greece's Georgios Papagiannis, Iceland's Tryggvi Hlinason, Dino Radoncic of Montenegro, the Romanian trio of Emanuel Cate, Nandor Kuti and Bogdan Nicolescu, Slovenia's Vlatko Cancar and Furkan Korkmaz of Turkey.
With that out of the way … let's get to 2021. So these are players born in 2001 or later. And they are in alphabetical order, not in the degree of likelihood they would play at FIBA EuroBasket 2021.
Avdija was one of the biggest revelations this summer at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017. The son of former Yugoslavia international Zufer Avdija, Deni is an all-around forward with good size and the ability to help in a number of ways. Israel will have moved on from their veterans like Lior Eliyahu, Guy Pnini and Yotam Holperin, so there might be room for Avdija alongside the next generation like Tamir Blatt and Yovel Zoosman from the FIBA U20 European Championship runners-up this summer.
Biberovic is currently on a tryout with Fenerbahce and the wing is considered one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's next young stars after Dzanan Musa's generation. Biberovic would be 20 years old and will likely have worked his way into the rotation of a decent sized European club to have built up some good experience. Of course, this would mean that Bosnia and Herzegovina would reach the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 after missing out on 2017.
Just like Biberovic, Enaruna's participation would also rely on the country qualifying. The Netherlands did not play in 2017 but they did reach FIBA EuroBasket 2015 for their first continental championship since 1989. Enaruna still has loads of developing to do but a good skill set is in place and the Netherlands would be a team that could bring a young talented player to a FIBA EuroBasket for the exposure.
Mannion showed what he can do in the international game after just a couple of days with the Italian team at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017 after being passed over by USA Basketball for the FIBA U16 Americas Championship. Mannion will have top-level development in the United States and would offer the Italian team a quick, athletic combo guard who can excel at both spots.
Rudan started the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017 a bit slow but really picked it up when it counted most, getting Croatia qualified for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018. Rudan is a weapon at both ends of the court and will likely be given chances at the club level to develop quickly against better and older competition. He could fit in nicely as another piece in an already exciting youthful Croatian national team.
Again, this is not the list of the BEST players from that generation but a group of guys who have at least a legit chance of playing if they continue to develop for federations who could find spots for youngsters. France, Germany and Spain are all loaded at the senior level meaning players like Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, Luc Van Slooten and Usman Garuba would face a real challenge.
But there were 13 players at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 20 years or younger so let's push the list out to 13 here too for 2021.
Rati Andronikashvili, Georgia; Viktor Lakhin, Russia; Kaspar Kitsing, Estonia; Jovan Kljajic, Montenegro; Mate Okros, Great Britain; Kareem Queeley, Great Britain; Rok Radovic, Slovenia; Bojan Tomasevic, Montenegro
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