08 - 16
July 2023
11 Thijs De Ridder (BEL)
Long Read
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Player Spotlight: Thijs De Ridder - Belgium's rising star

HERAKLION (Greece) - Reaching the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U20 European Championship for the first time ever is an entirely new level of success for Belgian basketball but for Thijs De Ridder, it feels like the natural progression of a tremendously successful 2022-23 season.

The 20-year-old forward was a key part of Telenet Giants Antwerp's impressive run in the BNXT League, earning multiple league accolades in the process, such as Sixth Man of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and a BNXT Dream Team selection.

With De Ridder continuing to turn heads Heraklion, FIBA contributor Ignacio Rissotto takes the opportunity to dive into the Belgian forward’s game.


Versatility is the name of the game for De Ridder, who is tremendously valuable for Belgium due to the multiple roles he can fill in their offense.

It all starts with his physical profile. Standing at 2.03m (6ft 8in) tall, De Ridder might not have elite measurements to be an elite play finisher in the paint, but he possesses a strong frame and a solid level of open court speed and explosiveness, which allows him to set tough screens, roll to the basket and attack the rim as a transition target.

In the paint, De Ridder can do more than just finishing plays, being able to create his own shot with his back to the basket. He establishes deep position often, overwhelming opponents with his strong frame, and once he catches the ball inside, he shows a great level of footwork, touch and ability to play through contact.

Post-ups, however, are not the only way in which De Ridder creates offense from the post, he's also a relentless offensive rebounder who utilizes his combination of size, toughness and quick second jump to create extra possessions for his team at an impressive rate. If De Ridder draws multiple defenders, he displays a good level of unselfishness and vision to find open teammates in the perimeter.

When he steps out to the perimeter, De Ridder is a consistent shooter who has converted 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts across five different FIBA competitions in his career. The Belgian forward has a smooth jumper with compact upper body mechanics and a quick trigger, which allows him to shoot over defensive pressure and makes him an absolute threat in pick-and-pop situations.


If there's a limitation with De Ridder's offensive profile it's his handle, as he lacks an elite level of shiftiness and fluidity with the ball in his hands, which limits him mostly to straight line drives, but he is quick enough to beat slower, bigger opponents in the perimeter with his first step. He also uses his threat as a shooter to draw closeouts, which puts him in an advantageous position to attack the basket with a good combination of speed and power.

His rim finishing, both as a driver and as a cutter, is impressive. De Ridder is simply unfazed by contact, doing a good job of using his shoulders to protect the ball and to create space against opponents. He combines his toughness with his touch around the basket, being able to convert shots off balance and in awkward angles.


De Ridder shows a similar level of versatility on the defensive end of the floor. His strength, toughness and rebounding ability has allowed him to thrive as a post defender in this tournament despite lacking the elite measurements of a center, as he has done a tremendous job of holding his position in the post and defending interior shot attempts from a standstill.

While De Ridder can struggle against some perimeter matchups, he is mobile enough to stay in front of opposing wings and forwards. This is another area in which he uses his strength to his advantage, as opponents have a hard time creating any sort of space against him with sheer physicality.


De Ridder’s performance at Heraklion has put him in the conversation as one of the best and most versatile young forwards in Europe. His optimal physical profile and his ability to affect the game both in the paint and in the perimeter, make him a perfect modern forward who can be extremely valuable for any team, with his ability to step into nearly any role that needs to be filled.

The future looks bright both for De Ridder, who will make the leap to the Spanish ACB for the 2023-24 season as he recently signed with Bilbao Basket, and for Belgian national team, who has found in the 20-year-old De Ridder, its forward of the (near) future. With Belgian Cats a dominant force in the women's game, claiming a maiden FIBA Women's EuroBasket title in June behind the magnificent Emma Meesseman, could De Ridder be the rising start to more history for Belgian basketball?