10 players to watch at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2022, Division B
SOFIA (Bulgaria) - After a two-year break, the FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B returns to its usual format, with the 2022 edition of the competition taking place in the Bulgarian capital.
The 22 participating teams will once again be competing for promotion to Division A. Below is an overview of ten leading players that are expected to shape this tournament.
Be sure to also check out the top players to watch in the Division A tournament, which will be taking place in Skopje, North Macedonia.
Declan Duru – Germany
Birth Date: January 12, 2007 (15 years old)
Height: 2.02m (6ft 7in)
Club: Real Madrid (ESP)
Declan Duru returns to the U16 competition after an impressive debut at last year's Challenger, and he'll still be younger than most of his competitors. The 15-year-old is an elite athlete, who thrives at attacking the rim and pushing the ball in transition. Duru will undoubtedly be a human highlight reel during the tournament and throw down some memorable dunks. While the forward's jumper remains a work in progress, he's made tremendous strides at effectively using his tools to make an impact on defense since last year, and he can be expected to dominate the competition in Division B. After getting relegated in 2019, Germany will be looking to return to Division A immediately, and they have excellent preconditions with one of Europe's brightest young stars leading the way.
Aleksandar Gavalyugov – Bulgaria
Birth Date: January 22, 2006 (16 years old)
Height: 1.86m (6ft 1in)
Club: BC Balkan (BUL)
After standing out at last year's FIBA U16 Challenger, Aleksandar Gavalyugov returns to the competition with the goal of leading a good Bulgarian team, which also includes Stella Azzurra Roma's Deyan Kolev, to promotion in front of their home crowd. Gavalyugov is an exceptionally skilled guard. He's a high-level pull-up shooter with deep range, who takes and makes three-pointers at a high volume. Additionally, he's a solid slasher, who has a floater game and shows impressive passing vision on his drives. He's consistently able to find the open man from various angles, even with one-handed passes while dribbling. With this skill set, Gavalyugov should be in the running for the best guard in the competition, especially if he can improve on his efficiency marks from last year (34% FG, 23% 3P, 67% FT), and he'll put on a show for the home crowd in Sofia.
Avtandil Bakhtadze – Georgia
Birth Date: September 19, 2007 (14 years old)
Height: 2.04m (6ft 8in)
Club: Nevezis (LTU)
Avtandil Bakhtadze is a record-breaker. Even though he hasn't even turned 15 yet, the big forward has already made his debut at the FIBA U20 Challenger, in the Lithuanian LKL as well as at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament. The Georgian tends to be the youngest player in every competition he plays in by far, a testament to his outstanding ability and potential. At 2.04m, Bakhtadze impresses with his fluid movements, which he effectively uses to attack the basket from the perimeter or running the floor in transition. Furthermore, he's an effective rim protector, especially as a help defender, and he also makes a large impact on the glass. Finally, he shows some flashes stretching the floor as well. In Sofia, Bakhtadze will be looking to expand on these flashes and have his first big outing in a FIBA competition.
Christian Anderson – Germany
Birth Date: April 2, 2006 (16 years old)
Height: 1.80m (5ft 11in)
Club: The Lovett School (USA)
Christian Anderson Jr. is a highly skilled guard. The 16-year-old is an exceptional shooter, who is comfortable shooting off the catch as well as off the dribble, reliably knocks down his midrange jumpers but also has range way beyond the three-point line. Furthermore, Anderson shows nice flashes as a playmaker. With this skillset, it's no wonder the US-based guard has made a name for himself in high-school basketball. Despite his youth, the sharpshooter has already committed to represent the University of Michigan starting in 2024, which likely makes him the only college-commit in either division of the FIBA U16 European Championship. With Germany, where Anderson's father spent part of his professional basketball career, Anderson Jr. will be looking to gain promotion and bring Germany back into Division A.
Julius Berglund Price – Sweden
Birth Date: October 8, 2006 (15 years old)
Height: 1.90m (6ft 3in)
Club: Fryshuset Basket (SWE)
Sweden returns to the competition with a talented team led by scoring guard Julius Berglund Price, who recently led the U16 Nordic Championship in scoring, with 21.8 points per game, while eclipsing the marks of 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the line. As these numbers suggest, Berglund Price is a versatile bucket-getter: he's athletic and shifty, creating and finishing attempts at the rim with consistency. Additionally, he's a good shooter off the dribble as well as off the catch, and he'll therefore be Sweden's first offensive option during the tournament. Price will share the backcourt with the talented Casper Pohto, the younger brother of former FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B standout Kenny Pohto.
Elmeri Abbey – Finland
Birth Date: May 24, 2006 (16 years old)
Height: 1.78m (5ft 10in)
Club: Jyvaskyla Basketball Academy (FIN)
Finland comes to Sofia with a strong team that certainly has a chance at promotion. They're led by quick guard Elmeri Abbey, dominant interior presence Olavi Suutela and wing scorer Eetu Heinonen. Abbey is the team's main shot creator because it's impossible to stay in front of him, due to his quickness. He's a blur in transition and consistently gets to the basket in the half-court as well. While he still has to improve his outside shooting, he's already a good playmaker, who is capable of finding the open man in a variety of situations. At the recent U16 Nordic Championship, the guard averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6.4 assists a game, ranking Top-5 in the competition in all three categories. At the FIBA U16 European Championship, he'll be looking to lead Finland to Division A for the first time since 2017.
Fynn Schott – Austria
Birth Date: April 13, 2006 (16 years old)
Height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Club: Lopoca Panthers Fürstenfeld (AUT)
In July 2022, Fynn Schott made his debut with the senior Austrian national team, recording one rebound and one block in three minutes on the court against Cyprus at the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers. With this experience, the big man one-ups everyone in the competition in Sofia. At 2.03m, Schott is an effective interior scorer, who can finish as the roll-man and shows flashes in the post, even converting layups with either hand. Furthermore, he shows glimpses of attacking the basket from the perimeter and knocking down the occasional three, even if these skills are far from consistent for now. In Schott, Austria has clearly found a long-term staple of their senior national team, so it'll be interesting to observe how he fares against his peers in this tournament.
Jayden Hodge – Belgium
Birth Date: April 30, 2007 (15 years old)
Height: 1.93m (6ft 4in)
Club: GSG Aarschot (BEL)
Belgium haven't competed in Division A since 2013, even though they've finished in the Top-10 of Division B in every edition since then. This time, they'll be looking to gain promotion with a very balanced team. One of their top prospects is Jayden Hodge, younger brother of FIBA U18 European Championship, Division B standout Matthew Hodge. Jayden is a big guard with an interesting scoring package: he's an athletic slasher and open court player, capable of the occasional highlight dunk. In addition to that, he's a solid outside shooter. Finally, he uses his athletic tools well to make an impact on defense. Hodge might not end up being Belgium's best player – he's playing one year up after all -, but he, as well as Joventut Badalona's outside shooter Terence Kekenbosch, will certainly catch the eyes of spectators for their outstanding potential.
Nathan Noronha – Portugal
Birth Date: January 13, 2006 (16 years old)
Height: 1.83m (6ft 0in)
Club: Archbishop Mitty H.S. (USA)
Nathan Noronha returns to FIBA play after a solid performance at last year's FIBA U16 Challenger. There, he helped Portugal, which were led by this year's U20 standout Ruben Prey, achieve a third-place finish in the 19-25-section of the competition. Throughout the tournament, Noronha averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 steals per game, finishing with the second-highest steal average in the 19-25-section. The small guard is a constant presence in passing lanes with quick hands and a good eye for bad passes. On offense, he can do a little bit of everything: create some shots for himself and others as well as knock down the occasional jumper. Portugal have a strong team overall – Noronha won't be the only standout – and could make a run for promotion to Division A.
Birkir Hrafn Eythorsson – Iceland
Birth Date: November 25, 2006 (15 years old)
Height: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Club: Selfoss (ISL)
Birkir Hrafn Eythorsson was one of the standouts at this summer's U16 Nordic Championship, where he averaged an impressive 19.4 points per game and converted 43.5 percent of his attempts from behind the three-point line. The wing shone with his ability to shoot off the catch, even regularly running off screens for difficult jumpers. Additionally, he showed some ability to make plays off the dribble and finished at the rim with consistency. With this scoring skill set, Eythorsson is expected to be the leader of a solid Iceland team, which will be looking to continue a good summer after they finished with a 3-2 record in the Nordic Championship.