By: Borko Popic

While the class of ‘90 may have the best talent, it is very top heavy
with the likes of Ricky Rubio and Donatas Motiejunas, the class of ‘88
might just be the one with most depth and end up being the one that has the
most players drafted.




Vladimir Dasic
Photo: Fiba Europe


Vladimir Dasic 6-9 220 SF Buducnost (Montenegro)

His play in the Adriatic League has been up and down, but during the qualifying
rounds for the Euro Cup he has put together two good performances going for
for 23 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks & then 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals.
His main problem continues to be consistency and focus, at times he will look
like a top notch talent, taking defenders off the dribble and finishing at the
hoop, or hitting long range jumpers with people all over him. Then at other
times he seems like he just doesn’t care, coasting, and missing wide open
lay ups. His size, athleticism, and skills are undeniable, but he needs to continue
to mature and mentally develop if he is ever to reach his true potential.

Nemanja Gordic 6-4 PG/SG Buducnost (Bosnia)

Gordic has started to get into a rhythm and not only has his confidence gotten
better, but his overall level of play is much improved. It is good to see that
Buducnost have moved on in the Euro Cup qualifying, which means that we will
be able to see both Gordic and Dasic against some tough competition. In the
two qualifying matches Gordic had 18 pts 4 assists, 3 steals & 16 points
and 4 assists. His handles are very good and combined with good quickness makes
him a very difficult guy to contain. On his shot he shows good form and he is
definitely not afraid to let it fly, but at this point he is very streaky and
he goes into droughts. Standing at about 6-4 he has that good size that has
been crucial for European playmakers in taking their game to the NBA and if
he continues to display the high level of play as he has recently, he could
very well make it to the big leagues.

Omri Casspi 6-8 220 SF Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

He seems to be a lot more comfortable playing in the Turkish league as opposed
to the Euroleague. Through two games in the domestic league he is averaging
18.5 points as well as 5 rebounds. He is showing his outside touch as well,
going 3 for 6 from deep in his last game. He did play pretty well in his last
Euroleague game finishing with 16 points and 5 rebounds, but most of that contribution
happened during garbage time, as his team was blown out by 20 points. The key
for him is to prove that he can perform on the big stage and more importantly
when it matters.

Stefan Markovic 6-5 SG Hemofarm (Serbia)

He is getting a ton of minutes and is showing good composure and maturity as
he is running the team from the PG spot. His skill set is more of a combo guard,
but it is more than enough to allow him to handle playing the lead guard in
a very tough Adriatic League. In his last game against Zagreb he finished with
18 points (3-4 3pt), 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. He has good size, nice handles
and his jumpshot is improving (although his form is still awkward as he shoots
to far off his head leaving his elbow to the outside). His quickness allows
him to get to the right spots, but he is not explosive enough to really blow
by people and create for others. At this point he looks like a very good European
player, but with continued development, a player of his size is definitely worth
keeping tabs on.

Martynas Gecevicius 6-4 SG Lietuvos
(Lithuania) 1988

Has been getting a nice amount of playing time and has had some nice scoring
games. In his last one he finished with 16 points and 7 rebounds and on the
season he is averaging just under 18 minutes per game, which is very good considering
that Lietuvos Ryas is a very talented and deep team.

No Change

Victor Claver 6-10 236 SF Pamesa Valencia

It is tough to say that he is falling, simply because he is such a physical
specimen, but his play of late has definitely not helped his cause. He does
a little bit of everything, but seems to lack the killer instinct to take a
ball game over. Part of the problem is that he lacks go-to moves that will allow
him to score one on one. He gets his points off of energy and scrappiness, but
those types of plays don’t happen consistently enough where they allow
him to score big numbers. He has the body, size and athleticism to play both
the 3 and 4 spots but his game is not yet geared towards either. He can knock
down open jumpers and finish very effectively around the basket, but he needs
somebody to create those opportunities. In his last game he played 28 minutes,
finishing with 6 points, 6 rebounds but only taking 4 shots. He is a very unselfish
guy, but he needs to put more onus on himself and take charge.


Alexey Shved 6-6 180 PG CSKA Moscow (Russia)

It is almost like beating a dead horse at this point, but seeing that Shved
cannot buy any playing time considering the fact that starter J.R. Holden is
out with an injury, there just may not be any hope for him in CSKA at this point.
In a blowout game in the Russian Cup, he played 14 minutes finishing with 7
points and 3 assists, maybe a confidence boost, but playing against 2nd tier
talent is not what will help Shved’s stock.

Others (non-1988) to keep an eye on

The trio of Dusan Katnic 6-4 PG (1989),
Stefan Stojacic 6-5 SG (1988) and Aleksandar
Mitrovic 6-7 G/F (1989)
of Mega Beograd are definitely worth keeping an
eye on. Although they don’t play in the Adriatic league, they are still
putting up very big numbers in the fairly competitive Serbian League. Stojacic
is averaging 19.5 points (45% from 3pt) Katnic is putting up 12.7 points, 2.7
assists and 1.4 steals. However, of the 3 the most intriguing could be Mitrovic
who is the youngest and at 6-7 plays full time on the wing. Through seven games
he has averaged 10.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 assits. This summer he played
for the Serbian U-18 team and put together a solid tournament, including performances
against Greece and Lithuania (top 2 finishers) going for 14 points, 6 rebounds
and 13 points (4/4 from 3pt) 3 rebounds respectively.

Sergiy Gladyr 6-5 G MBC Mykolaiv (Ukraine)

The Ukrainian swingman is getting a lot of minutes and is quietly showing that
he can contribute in other ways than with just his outside shot. Speaking of
his shot, this summer at the U-20 Championships he not only led his squad in
scoring with 17.1 pts/g but he showed his stroke by lighting up the Lithuanians
(who finished 2nd) for 38 points hitting 11 threes in the game. So far this
season his shot has been off a bit, but he is still shooting nearly 40% from
beyond the arc. He is averaging 13.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2 assists.

Ronalds Zakis 6-8 210 F/C Ventspils (Latvia)

He has played very well this season averaging 11.8 points and 7 rebounds thus
far, not only is he effective around the hoop and on the glass, but he has shown
his ability to knock the outside shot as well.

Robin Benzing 6-10 205 SF/PF TV Langen (Germany)

At 6-10 he has great size, and more impressively he is able to play on the
wing and attack from the outside. He is playing in the 2nd division and his
team is at the bottom of the standings, but that may help him out in the long
run as he is getting all the playing time and all the shots that he wants. In
just under 30 minutes per game, he is averaging 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds.

Nihad Dedovic 6-6 190 SG Cronella (Bosnia)

Dedovic has been around for a while and it’s crazy to think that he is
still only 18. Upon leaving Bosna and going to Barcelona, big things were expected
of him, unfortunately he was never able to show much at the top level and as
a result has been playing in the lower leagues of Spain. This season he is in
Cronella, which is a 3rd division team, but he has been very effective so far.
He is averaging 15.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Yet, if he is ever
to get a real look from the NBA he will need to prove his worth in a top league,
either in Spain or elsewhere.

Andrey Vorontsevich 6-9 235 SF/PF CSKA
Moscow (Russia) 1987

Being buried on the bench has not discouraged him and recently he has begun
getting playing time. In the 1st round of the Russian Cup, he started, played
27 minutes and finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. While it was
definitely a nice display for the young Russian, he came back to earth in the
most recent Euroleague game where he saw 4 minutes of play and finished the
game scoreless.

Giorgi Shermadini 6-11 210 C Panathinaikos

Has signed a contract with the Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos and it will be
interesting to see if he is able to get into the rotation, as the team is loaded
with talented bigmen.


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