07 - 16
July 2023
9 Felix Brostrom (SWE)
to read

Eight players to watch at the #FIBAU20Europe Division B in Skopje

SKOPJE (North Macedonia) - There will be plenty of top talent on display as the FIBA U20 European Championship 2023, Division B takes place in Skopje, North Macedonia.

All eyes will be on the next generation making their mark for their countries and we have picked out eight players that could be set for a big tournament. You can have your say with our vote below.

Make sure to also check out the players to watch in the Division A tournament, which will be taking place in Heraklion, Greece.

Killian Gribben - Ireland


Birth Date: May 30, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Club: Siena Saints (USA)

Gribben is coming off an interesting freshman season at NCAA level, where he showed impressive flashes for the Siena Saints, albeit on limited minutes. Listed at 2.03m, Gribben can play at both the power forward and center positions, offering a unique mix of interior and perimeter skills. He can affect the game in the paint by finishing plays with power, rebounding and blocking shots with his long arms. He's also a threat from the outside, being able to convert three pointers in spot-up and pick-and-pop situations.

After playing mostly in a secondary role last year it's likely that Gribben's role this tournament will be closer to the one he had in the FIBA U18 European Challengers 2021, where he was the focal point of the offense for an Irish squad that could be on the rise.

Felix Brostrom - Sweden


Birth Date: August 22, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Club: University of South Dakota (USA)‎

Brostrom made his mark in last year's tournament; averaging 10.9 points, and 5.0 rebounds for a Swedish team that was close to greatness, going undefeated in the group stage before losing a close game against Iceland in the Quarter-Finals. Brostrom stands out with his combination of size and perimeter skillset. 

He is able to get to the rim with his speed and fluid ball-handling ability for his size. Brostrom's calling card, however, has been his shooting ability: he converted 41.4 percent of his three-point attempts in the 2022 edition of the tournament. With Mikai Klintman, Max Andersson, William Kermoury and Brostrom on the roster, Sweden will have the right mix of perimeter skills and interior strength: they will be in the mix to win it all in Skopje.

Ondrej Hustak - Czech Republic


Birth Date: November 04, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 2.12m (6ft 11in)
Club: CB Zamora Aquimisa Laboratorios (ESP)‎

Czech Republic returns to Division B after a one-year stay in the top division, and they will rely on Hustak to provide a strong interior presence on both ends of the floor. Hustak has truly elite physical tools, standing at 2.12m, with long arms and excellent mobility and coordination, which allows him to protect the rim, rebound, finish plays in the paint and run the floor hard in transition. He combines his athletic profile with his polished scoring ability, being able to create his own shot with his back to the basket and space the floor from beyond the three-point line, showing a great level of touch on both ends of the floor.

Hustak established himself this season as one of the most productive young bigs in the Spanish lower divisions. In order to make a quick return to Division A, Czech Republic will need Hustak to be just as productive and imposing in the paint as he has consistently been in his career.

Oleksandr Kobzystyi - Ukraine


Birth Date: May 23, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 1.96m (6ft 5in)
Club: Mega Soccer Bet (SRB)‎

Ukraine brings back the leading scorer from their previous appearance, as the team returns to Division B for the first time since 2014. Kobzystyi is a versatile wing who can contribute offensively in multiple ways. He stands out with his ability to shoot from the perimeter, being able to convert three-pointers both off-the-catch and off-the-dribble. Kobzystyi exploits the attention he commands in the perimeter to attack defenders and get to the rim with an impressive mix of speed and power.

He also adds value with his perimeter defense and his ability to make plays for teammates. Despite Kobzystyi's stellar scoring performance, where he averaged 14.9 points per game while shooting 45.8 percent from three-point range, Ukraine couldn't avoid relegation in the FIBA U20 European Championship 2022. They will have Kobzystyi once again as a focal point of the offense, hoping that they can surround him with enough production to make their stay in Division B a one-year affair.

Andrej Mitrevski - North Macedonia


Birth Date: September 17, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 1.90m (6ft 3in)
Club: Feniks 2010 (MKD)‎

Mitrevski is a combo guard who can play both on and off the ball, as he possesses a diverse offensive skillset which allows him to contribute to his team in multiple ways. He's a fluid ball-handler who plays with great pace, is comfortable in traffic and does a good job of reading the floor on the move, finding the open man with kick-out passes. He contributes as a shooter as well, being able to convert pull-up jumpers with a good level of consistency.

Mitrevski will play in his fifth FIBA youth competition this summer, as he has already been a stand out for North Macedonia both at the U16 and U18 levels. His experience, however, goes beyond the junior levels, as he has already made his debut for the senior national team and has turned into one of the most productive offensive players in the North Macedonian Superleague, having two full seasons of experience as one of the leaders for Feniks 2010.

Freds Pauls Bagatskis - Latvia


Birth Date: October 7, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Club: University of Texas Arlington Mavericks (USA)‎

The son of legendary sharpshooter, and current coach of the Ukrainian national team Ainars Bagatskis, Freds Pauls comes into the tournament not only with a winning family pedigree, but also with an impressive career of his own at the youth levels, having being one of the standouts for Valencia\s junior squads. Much like his father, shooting has been the calling card in his young career. Bagatskis contributes with his impressive ability to space the floor from the power forward position, converting three-pointers with efficiency and volume; in his only appearance in a FIBA youth competition, he shot 40.5 percent from three on 5.3 attempts per game.

After not seeing much playing time in his freshman season at Georgia Tech, Bagatskis will transfer to the University of Texas Arlington for the 2023-24 season. In Skopje, he will have the opportunity to play extended minutes for a Latvian team that certainly has enough firepower to get promoted back to Division A, where they have played 15 of the last 18 editions of the tournament.

Viljami Vartiainen - Finland


Birth Date: March 2, 2004 (19 years old)
Height: 1.95m (6ft 5in)
Club: Helsinki Basketball Academy (FIN)‎

Vartiainen will bring recent winning experience to the team, as he was the second leading scorer behind Miro Little for last year's Finnish team that came third in the FIBA U18 European Championship, Division B -  earning promotion to Division A. What Vartiainen will also bring is a diverse scoring arsenal, standing out with his consistent and versatile shooting ability from the perimeter, as shown by the 46.7 percent he shot on three-pointers in the aforementioned U18 event.

The 19-year old also mixes in moments of creation for others as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and flashes of finishing at the rim out of cuts and offensive rebounds. Coming off a productive season for Helsinki Basketball Academy in Finland's second division, Vartiainen will find himself in familiar territory as an important piece of a talented Finnish team who could find itself on the brink of promotion once again. If Vartiainen can, once again, shoot efficiently and create shots for himself, Finland might actually pull it off. 

James Okonkwo - Great Britain


Birth Date: October 1, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Club: West Virginia (USA)

After seeing limited playing time in his freshman year, Okonkwo showed a lot of improvement for the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2022-23 season. Okonkwo is a physically imposing center whose combination of size, strength, length and motor allow him to collect rebounds, block shots and defend post-ups at a great rate.

He also plays with a lot of energy on offense, setting screens, finishing plays at the rim, being a factor in the offensive glass and running the floor with good speed in transition. Great Britain will play at the FIBA U20 European Championship for the first time since 2019 and they will rely on Okonkwo, who will make his debut in FIBA competitions, to provide size, energy and efficient interior finishing, in order to make a quick return to Division A.