Dan Russo and Stephen Kalayil join The SeanMoHoops Pod to dissect each region of the March Madness brackets. How did teams such as Syracuse and Texas get into the dance? What are the top games to watch on opening weekend, plus Final Four picks, sleepers, and more.
Mikey Visenberg of NBADraft.net joins the Pod to talk about award season. Who should have made 1st Team All Conference in the ACC, Big East, B12, SEC, and PAC-12. Who got snubbed, did Marvin Bagley deserve ACC POY, Deandre Ayton’s ROI, and more as we get ready for March Madness.
The 4th annual Basketball Without Borders Global camp took place at the LA Lakers practice facility during NBA All-Star weekend where 42 of the top high school age international prospects competed in drills and scrimmages. There were a few players in attendance currently playing in the U.S. (like camp MVP Charles Bassey), but the other prospects are overseas and could potentially end up in the 2019 and beyond NBA drafts. This event was my first in-person viewings of all the players except for Bassey and Josh Green.
Some thoughts and notes below:
Favorite Player: Luka Samanic, 6’9”, 210, Croatia, 9/1/2000
Luka Samanic, a 6’9” Croatian (born in 2000) was my favorite player of the camp. Samanic is currently #6 in ESPN’s 2019 Mock Draft and his high skill level is a big reason why. Samanic drew mixed reviews from observers with his play in scrimmages, but to me it was a combination of factors that made him my favorite player. At 6’9”, Luka was the tallest player amongst the group of wings at camp. He has a very easy shot, that allowed him to adjust quickly to the deeper NBA 3-point line. With good rotation on his shot, even his misses looked good (missed shots were short or long, rather than left or right) and he was always one of the standouts in shooting drills and hit several 3’s in the scrimmages.
Despite his thin frame (210 pounds), Samanic was not afraid to mix-it up at times and attack the basket. While he had a propensity to drive right the majority of the time, Samanic also showed off some high-level moves off the dribble utilizing spins and cross-overs at times to get to the rim. In addition, Samanic took a leadership role in the drills and was a big part of his teams championship win starting the game off with a 3 and then a spin out of the post for two.
With Samanic there are still points of improvement. His 3-point stroke didn’t always fall consistently in the scrimmages and at times he seemed like a gunner. As mentioned above, he was also very right-hand dominant on his drives and will need to continue to add strength. That being said, Samanic’s skill-level and potential was evident watching him in drills and move on the court.
Other Top Performers:
Sekou Doumbouya, 6’9”. France, 12/23/2000
Doumbouya was the other prospect currently listed in ESPN’s 2019 Mock Draft. While Samanic was a shooter and true wing, Doumbouya relied on his athleticism and strength. It was almost unfair watching him in the 1-on-1 drills due to this combination. Players couldn’t get by him off the dribble, nor could they stop him when he lowered his shoulder and drove to the basket. Extremely explosive off two-feet, Doumbouya had several rim-rattling dunks in the scrimmages.
Shooting-wise, Doumbouya is still a work in progress. His shot is released at forehead level and he does have great rotation on his high-arcing shot. The NBA 3-point line wasn’t an issue for him, as he had no trouble with the distance, but unlike Samanic, his misses were usually all over the place. When matched up against Paul Eboua (see below), Doumbouya struggled with his shot and turnovers. Doumbouya was the most powerful player in camp and already excels in pick and rolls, but he will need to continue to increase his overall skill-level and become more consistent shooting the ball from outside.
Leandro Bolmaro, 6’6”, Argentina, 9/11/2000
One of a handful of Argentinians at the camp, Bolmaro brought the flare and pizazz one has come to expect from watching Argentina play in the Olympics. Bolmaro showed good agility for a wing being able to play multiple positions (wing / point guard) and displayed good shooting form in the drills. Bolmaro, while not the quickest player around he was certainly able to get defenders off balance and attack the hoop. On occasion, Bolmaro saw opportunities with the ball in his hand and he attacked. On Saturday, Bolmaro delivered a viscous right-to-left cross for a pull-up jumper and on Sunday he hesitated for a split second freezing his defender at the top of the key before blowing by for a right-hand lay-up.
AJ Lawson, 6’7”, Canada, 7/15/2000
Lawson’s athleticism was constantly on display in the open court during the scrimmages. A high-flying athlete Lawson time and time again exploded off his left foot for rim-rattling dunks. With his size and athleticism, Lawson was extremely intriguing to watch. He fancies himself as a point guard, which is the position he played throughout camp and he was extremely effective turning the corner in pick and roll’s. However, his ball-handling was sometimes questionable at best bringing the ball up the court. Outside shooting is also an area of improvement for Lawson. Early on in the shooting drills, Lawson was strictly a set-shot shooter which didn’t work out too well as he struggled to come close on his attempts outside the college 3-point line (funky sidespin upon release). In the scrimmage’s, Lawson looked more comfortable hitting several shots off of the dribble where he used his leaping ability to add some lift to his shot. As Lawson improves his handle and outside shooting, the athletic Canadian will be able to reach his high ceiling.
Paul Eboua, 6’7”, Cameroon, 2/5/2000
Physically, Eboua looked like Ron Artest with chiseled arms and an almost 7’2” wing span. Extremely explosive off of two-feet, Eboua was the one player that could handle himself against Sekou Doumbouya forcing him into a variety of tough shots in one of the final scrimmages. One of the top defenders, Eboua was effective around the basket, but also had great rotation on his outside shot. This was not an area where he was able to knock down deep jump shots consistently, but with his form and mechanics he definitely has the upside to improve in this department.
Joel Parra, 6’7”, Spain, 4/4/2000
The left-handed Parra had the old-school European game going throughout the camp. What he lacked in quickness and explosiveness, he made up for with smarts and being the craftiest player in the camp. Parra showed the ability to knock in 3’s from NBA range and was able to drive and post-up opposing players regularly getting them off balance with a mix of fakes, spins, and fundamental footwork. Parra could finish around the basket with either hand and was effective almost any time he touched the floor.
- Aleksander Balcerowski – A 7’0” center from Poland, Balcerowski had the game of a guard. While lacking strength to compete with some of the stronger big men down low, Balcerowski was often seeing dribbling the ball comfortably in half-court and full-court situations. He took the ball coast to coast, and also connected on a few deep jump shots. Good fluidity for a player with his size, he also wasn’t afraid to attempt step-back jumpers in the scrimmages.
- Martynas Ariauskas – A 6’7” shooter from Lithuania. Ariauskas lacked quickness off the dribble, but was a strong shot maker and a tough player.
- Alex Ducas / Artus Kurucs – Both 6’4” guards that were some of the top shooters in camp. Ducas is from Australia and Kurucs is from Latvia.
- Vit Krejci – 6’6” guard from the Czech Republic, Krejci had a good crossover, a quick release on his shot, and high confidence in his game.
- Leonardo Colimero – A 6’6” wing from Brazil, Colimero’s athleticism stood out as did his ability to attack the basket off the dribble.
- Tyrese Samuel – Another Canadian stand-out. Samuel had the body of a college 4 already (6’8”) and had good lift off two feet for rebounding and scoring at the basket.
- Princepal Singh – One of two Indians at the camp, Singh did not standout in the scrimmages, but he caught my eye with his size (6’10”), length, and ability to move. He was able to alter shots on defense and showed a good touch on his shot despite not connecting in the scrimmages.
- Biram Faye – 6’8” power forward from Senegal, Faye was extremely active in the final game on Sunday. Another explosive big around the basket, Faye stepped out to 12 feet for a jumper and controlled the paint defensively.
- Killian Hayes – One of the top guard prospects entering camp, Hayes, a 6’5” guard from France was fairly quiet on Saturday and was icing his knees on Sunday. Good size and build, but looking forward to watching him more down the road to see his true skill-set.
International Players in America:
Charles Bassey – A top 3 prospect in the 2019 class, Charles Bassey received the camp MVP. At 6’10”, Bassey has an extremely strong upper body that allowed him to finish close to the basket and alter / block numerous shot attempts in the paint. While he can move somewhat robotically, Bassey flashed the ability to turn and face out of the post from 10-12 feet with regularity. I’m not entirely sold on Bassey’s top 3 status, but the size and strength certainly make him stand out in almost any setting.
Josh Green – Green put on quite possibly the top performance of the camp on Saturday during the scrimmages. A high flyer at IMG, Green was a level above his counterparts at times. With a quick first step and explosive leaping ability, Green was getting to the basket at will and also hitting jump shots off the dribble. Green also was unselfish with the ball, finding the open man off the dribble and not always being a shoot first guard. His stock will certainly rise into the top 20 during the spring AAU program.
N’Faly Dante – A five-star sophomore (allegedly), Dante is a 7’0” man child with an impressive wing span. One of the most imposing physical prospects in camp, Dante was dominant around the rim, but will need his skill-level to catch up to his physical gifts.
Maxwell Lorca-Lloyd – 6’9” power forward from Chile that plays at Northfield Mount Hermon. Lorca-Lloyd was one of the most explosive two-footed jumpers at the camp. He was effective around the rim with two-hands and possessed the ability to be a true pick and dive threat going forward. Right now, Lorca-Lloyd’s range does not extend outside the paint as he has a hitch in his outside shot that comes off the top of his finger-tips. If he can work on his shot mechanics, Lorca Lloyd could see a jump in his stock.
Drew Russell, Vice President, Sports Properties – Intersport joins The SeanMoHoops Pod to go in-depth on the newly created 3 on 3 college basketball championship. As one of the creators of the event, Drew talks about the early formation of the event and how it morphed into a tournament with $100k in prize money and 32 teams from all Division 1 conferences. To top it off, we discuss a potential ACC team, the favorite (Big East), and some sleepers.
Michael Visenberg of NBADraft.net joins the Pod to talk about the week that was in college basketball. We offer up our thoughts on the NCAA’s bracket preview along as well as some of the biggest games (UNC/Duke, Purdue/MSU, UVA/VTech, Nova/Butler) and teams we watched live (Oregon/St. Mary’s). Finally, who is #1 on Mikey V’s 2018 Draft board?
Lots of college hoops talk with DefPen’s Stephen Kalayil and Dan Russo on this week’s podcast. Kyle Guy for ACC POY and the Wahoo dominance after their win against Louisville, plus a Buy / Sell on teams such as KY, Auburn, Creighton, and Kansas. Finally, a quick draft of the top freshmen in college before closing with things to watch in February (Purdue, USC, and more).
SB Nation College Hoops Editor Ricky O’Donnell makes a return appearance to discuss Zion Williamson’s surprise recruitment and why we all should have seen it coming. How will Zion fit with Cameron Reddish and RJ Barrett plus who will win the 2018 NCAA title?
Lots of college basketball talk with Dan Russo, a DC hoops junkie who just made his first visit to Phog Allen. Dan talks about his experience at the Kansas-Kansas State game while I give my thoughts on several recent PAC-12 viewings. Patrick Ewing’s first season at Georgetown is discussed before we Buy or Sell several of the top teams in the country including Villanova, UVA, Purdue, Duke, and Xavier.
The SeanMoHoops Pod is back in the New Year with NBADraft.net’s Mikey Visenberg making a return. We discuss our thoughts from the Les Schwab Invitational and City of Palms including Keldon Johnson, Scottie Barnes, Spencer Freedman, and Jordan McCabe. Then we dive into conference play in college hoops and the best games to watch this weekend (Oklahoma and Trae Young vs. West Virginia).
The SeanMoHoops Pod talks to NBC college basketball and NBC Sports Chicago writer Scott Phillips about some of the biggest surprises in college basketball from the last week, Arizona State’s fast rise, and Trae Young’s efficiency. An expert in the Chicago hoops scene, Scott also dishes on the Simeon-Morgan Park rivalry before giving out his Chicago high school hoops starting 5 in a walk down memory lane.