16 - 24
July 2016
Henrik Dettmann
to read

Dettmann sees All-Star potential in Markkanen

HELSINKI (FIBA U20 European Championship 2016) – Finland’s run to the Round of 16 at the FIBA U20 European Championship in Helsinki brought out the home fans in their thousands.

But senior national team coach Henrik Dettmann is convinced the team’s undisputed star, Lauri Markkanen is destined for even greater stages.

Around 5,000 fans roared on the young Susijengi side in each of the opening four games as they made their top-flight debut at U20 level.

Behind a tournament-high 25 points-per-game from Markkanen, the Finns recovered from an opening-night loss against Israel to record back-to-back wins over perennial powers Spain and France before falling to Lithuania.

Those experiences will no doubt form a key phase of the 19-year-old center’s development, a process Dettmann is keeping a close eye on.

"In Finnish you say that you try to 'hurry slow' and this is what we are trying to make sure we do with Lauri," said Dettmann, who has been courtside at each of the Finnish team’s games in Helsinki.

"We are trying to make sure he works on his game, develops the parts he has to develop.

"We give him a six-month goal. For the next six months we concentrate on developing his game and this is what we work on. Then, when the time comes to go to the next level, then he has to take this step."

The next step in Markkanen's basketball development will take him to the University of Arizona.

The Helsinki Basketball Academy talent has already had a taste of being around the Finnish senior national team too. 

And Dettmann believes that by broadening his basketball horizons and cultivating all these different experiences, Markkanen has the opportunity to become a stateside star.

"We are really excited about having him in the men’s national team this summer and having him going to Arizona to play college basketball because that is also going to give him a new view and new experience of how the game is," the coach added.

"College basketball is different. The speed of the game is different, the way they play is different and this experience will give him a wider base when it is time to go to the next level.

"The next level is, of course, the NBA. But to make it to the NBA, that’s nothing. You have to make it in the NBA, then you are something.

"I think Lauri has the talent to be a good, I would say All-Star player."

That is high praise coming from a man of Dettmann’s experience and expertise.

Few have seen more in the European game than the man who has spearheaded Finnish basketball’s rapid rise in recent years. 

And with such understanding comes a warning; that Markkanen must maintain the drive to develop his game and ignore external factors, if he is to realise his massive potential.

"I’ve been around for a while, I’ve seen the development of Toni Kukoc and all these guys, and I coached my first European youth championship in 1984 so I’ve seen a couple of generations and Lauri is rare. 

"He is really rare with his ability, his skill and his mobility and he just plays basketball. He is not focused on the other things, which are not important.

"That is a quality that he has to keep."