Rioux, Mara, Zikarsky, Evans - the U17 big men
MALAGA (Spain) - There is always something magical about a person taller than 7 feet that draws the attention of basketball fans. A quartet of such big men towered over the competition at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2022 and gave a glimpse of what the future might hold.
Here a look at the four 7-foot-plus centers who played in Malaga.
2005 - USA - 7-foot-1-inch/2.16 meters
1.0 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.3 steals, 1.2 blocks, 5.9 minutes
Evans played a total of 35 minutes but the American big man was an absolute giant in terms of fan favorite among the local fans. His biggest moment came late in the Semi-Finals against Lithuania when he slammed home an alley-oop dunk - a moment that even got USA head coach Sharman White excited. Evans has a lot of development to do but USA Basketball really like his energy and work ethic. Plus he's 7-foot-1 so he has plenty of height and length.
2005 - Spain - 7-foot-3-inches/2.20 meters
12.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.9 blocks
Mara was a defensive force in the middle of the Spanish defense, twice blocking five shots in a game. He also flashed some excellent passing skills for a player his size. And size is something of which Mara definitely has plenty. The Spaniard has a couple of moves around the basket and is a decent rebounder. Of course being just 17, Mara has plenty of things to work on, but he also has developed quickly as a center. Still, he will need to work on his quickness in order to be a force at the next level. Please go read that long article about him.
2006 - Canada - 7-foot-6-inches/2.28 meters
2.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks
Rioux is a mountain of a man, not only being 7-foot-6 but also having a pretty full body. The Canadian simply towered over everybody in the competition - even over the 7-foot-3 Aday Mara of Spain. And you just can't teach that kind of height. Rioux is not really a high-level prospect at the moment but he also was only born in 2006. He is very raw and also not very fluid or athletic. If Rioux puts in the time to work on his inside game at both ends of the floor and pick up a little bit of quickness, the basketball world could see him as early as next summer at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2023.
2006 - Australia - 7-foot-1-inch/2.17 meters
13.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.1 blocks
Zikarsky collected three double-doubles during the tournament and four times blocked at least four shots all the while shooting 63.3% from the field. The Australian big man was one constant alley-oop threat on offense while being an enforcer at the other end and even running the break here and there. Some believe Zikarsky might be Australia's center man since the great Andrew Bogut though the Boomers legend is a high bar to reach. Still, Zikarsky is very young as a 2006-born yet already has an impressive skillset with which to work.