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July 2023
6 Ilias Kamardine (FRA)
17/07/2023
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Player Spotlight: Ilias Kamardine - France's hyper-efficient MVP

HERAKLION (Greece) - French guard Ilias Kamardine was named MVP of the FIBA U20 European Championship 2023, after leading his country to its first title since 2010.

Kamardine has been regarded as one of the top young guards in France among scouting circles, after a 2021-22 season that saw him performing well for Dijon in the French U21 Espoirs and being an important piece of the French team that finished in fifth place at the FIBA U20 European Championship 2022.


This summer however, Kamardine was able to take the leap from important piece to MVP - a good reason for FIBA contributor Ignacio Rissotto to take a closer look at his game.

OFFENSE - AGGRESSIVENESS, EFFICIENCY AND VISION

Kamardine stands out due to the aggressive nature of his scoring ability. He puts pressure on opposing defenders in the perimeter consistently, being able to beat them off the dribble with his quick first step and a creative ball-handling ability which is, arguably, his most effective weapon on offense.

Kamardine is fluid with the ball in his hands, flowing seamlessly between an arsenal of dribble moves which he utilizes to get defenders off position and find his way to the rim. Once he's on the move, Kamardine plays with tremendous pace and poise in traffic, keeping a low dribble point - in part due to his long arms - and having a counter move to whatever defenders throw at him, which makes him comfortable driving through crowds while keeping turnovers to a minimum.


While not extremely explosive off a standstill, Kamardine is able to drive the ball at a really good speed, getting to the rim with an impressive level of momentum, allowing him to finish at the rim with power on most of his drives.

Kamardine didn't play as the primary offensive initiator for France as he was mostly tasked with looking for his own shot, but he was able to utilize the gravity he generated on drives, finding open teammates once he drew multiple defenders with simple drive-and-kicks and entry passes out of the pick-and-roll. While it would be tempting to typecast Kamardine as just a scoring guard, he certainly showed a good level of passing vision, making occasional reactive plays and advanced reads to find wide open teammates.

The final piece of the offensive puzzle is Kamardine's efficient shooting ability. He torched opposing teams in Heraklion, converting 48.3 percent of his three-point attempts. While he was mostly a spot-up shooter during the tournament, he showed compact mechanics and an impressive range, forcing opponents to guard him several feet behind the three-point line.

Even if his attempts were mostly in the catch-and-shoot type, he showed flashes of shotmaking off-the-dribble, with perhaps the biggest example coming in the final game. With 1:24 left in overtime in a three point ball game, Kamardine hit the biggest shot of the tournament, a sidestep three-pointer while getting fouled that pretty much sealed the deal, icing the game and all but securing a France victory at the U20 Championship.


DEFENSE - A HIGH-MOTOR DISRUPTOR

Kamardine's contributions on defense are characterized by the same level of aggressiveness he shows on offense. When he's defending opposing ball handlers, he's engaged and energetic, being really quick to move laterally and change directions in order to stay in front of opponents and contest drives and jumpshots.

Kamardine led the tournament with 2.6 steals per game - a mark that shows not only how difficult he made life for opposing ball-handlers, but also his ability to be in the right place at the right time as an off-ball defender, being quick to get in passing lanes to force deflections and steals.

OUTLOOK

In his run in Heraklion, Kamardine put his name among the top guard prospects in Europe by showing everything you could ask from someone at his position: hyper-efficient scoring from multiple-levels of the floor while also providing playmaking for others and perimeter defense at a solid level.

Kamardine should enjoy a long and successful professional career, but if this is indeed the new normal for the 19-year-old guard and he can make a similar level of impact in the upcoming 2023-24 season, his ceiling might be even higher - one that even includes the NBA and the French senior national team in his near future.

FIBA