Outside the USA, Spain might be the most prolific point guard producer in the world: José Manuel Calderón, Ricky Rubio, Sergio Rodríguez, Raúl López or Sergio Llull have all been top level point guards, and there is a potent group of next-tier guards who are either still playing quality minutes or have done over the past few years, including names like Quino Colom, Carlos Cabezas, Albert Oliver or more recently Jaime Fernández. This list is about to expand to include yet another name: Alocén.
Carlos Alocén (30/12/2000) is a Basket Zaragoza youth system product, and part of a very ambitious sporting project that has ended with the bulk of the original under-14 team playing for Zaragoza’s B side in EBA (Spanish fourth division). 6 of his Zaragoza teammates from the 2000 generation have already made their debut in ACB (!). A few years before Alocén, PG Sergi García made the transition straight from the junior team to the ACB roster after an excellent showing at the U18 European Championships — and after only three seasons, he left for Valencia Basket’s greener pastures.
Carlos Alocén has had an exemplary youth career. He was never considered the star of the 2000 generation, but he was always one of the players to watch: he participated in the 2016 edition of the Jordan Brand Classic and he was consistently the starter in the national team outlets at every stage of the youth system process. However, it was at the junior level that he really stepped up and began catching everybody’s eye. Before signing his first professional contract, there were rumours about him having a scholarship offer from Gonzaga, where Mark Few’s coaching staff has a long-standing tradition of recruiting and integrating high-level European prospects that wind up having successful professional careers. Alocén ended up extending his stay in Zaragoza, extending his contract with his hometown club for another 4 seasons.
Prior to becoming an established ACB player, Alocén performed at a high level in his lone season playing for Simply Olivar, Basket Zaragoza’s EBA league affiliate team. While making his debut for coach Cuspinera’s Basket Zaragoza in the ACB, he was fast becoming one best point guards in EBA at only age 16. He led Basket Zaragoza to the semifinals of the Spanish under-18 championship while playing the best basketball of the competition, and then went on to post an excellent performance as the tournament’s assist leader at the #FIBAU18 despite the Spanish team’s debacle against Montenegro in the round of 16.
Alocén is currently competing for the backup point guard position at Basket Zaragoza with Fabio Santana, one of the better point guards in LEB Oro last season, and stands clearly behind Bo McCalebb, one of the most important American guards in recent European basketball history.
- EBA: 14.7 ppg (46% FG, 24.5% 3pt), 5.5 rpg, 4.7 apg 1.3 spg, 3.1 TO in 29.05 mpg
- Spanish junior championship: 11.5 ppg, (46.7% TC 29.6% 3pt), 3.57 rpg, 3.57 apg, 2.1 spg, 3.2 TO in 24.2 mpg.
- FIBA U18 2018: 12.4 ppg (62% FG, 58.8% 3pt), 2.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.9 TO in 22.8 mpg.
- ACB (2018-2019): 3.8 ppg (51% FG, 35% 3pt), 1.5 rpg 1.7 apg, 1.04 spg, 1.04 TO in 12.8 mpg.
Alocén has a somewhat atypical physical profile for his position. With great size and length, he is able to impact his opponent’s actions in several aspects. His height grants him the opportunity to see over his defenders, allowing him to make excellent reads on offense.
His lower body strength, on the other hand, can be considered rather average. While by no means a slow player, he definitely does not have elite burst and will not blow by opponents in the half court, although he can be an effective transition player once he gets a head of steam. He is noticeably better when attacking pick and rolls from beyond the three-point arc, as it allows him to build up speed in order to blow by the big man hanging back.
Upper body wise, Alocén, like most young players, will need to put on weight and become stronger, but he has a wide frame that should allow him to pack some muscle, and he is already capable finishing through contact or getting fouled in the process.
Alocén’s main skill at this point is probably his court vision. At this point, he is the best passer in his generation. His main source of offensive generation is the pick and roll, where he tends to force the defense to rotate over before finding the open man. He is especially skilled at reading the weakside defender, which allows his team to create plenty of wide open 3s. He is capable of executing high-degree-of-difficulty passes, both from a standstill and while jumping, and he has managed to limit his turnover rate to an acceptable figure considering his age and role on the team. Finally, he is quite effective in transition, as he’s an accurate outlet passer and can lead the break to create easy shots for his teammates running the lanes.
The other main aspect of Alocén’s offensive game right now is his slashing game. Although Alocén does not have an explosive first step, he can be quite fast with a head of steam and will go hard to the rim. As mentioned before, he uses his size and upper body strength to finish through contact or force fouls on the defense. On the other hand, he can be rather predictable, as he usually prefers to go right and must improve both his ball-handling and finishing abilities with his off hand.
Given his size, court vision and lack of burst in one-on-one, it is odd that Alocén has not been used as an offensive weapon in the low post, and it would not be surprising to see him develop that aspect of his game in the future in order to obtain advantages against smaller guards that he will struggle to generate while facing up from the perimeter.
Alocén’s weakness right now is simply his scoring consistency. He is an inconsistent shooter, and his lack of confidence in his jumpshot makes him pass up open looks on occasion. He has somewhat slow shooting mechanics and doesn’t have the highest release point, although his motion is fairly fluid. He has shot 30% from deep in his time in EBA and ACB — a decidedly below average mark for an elite point guard. However, his #FIBAU18 performance was promising in this aspect, shooting 50% on good volume, and he has had a couple good shooting games in ACB, including a 3/5 performance against Divina Seguros Joventut.
It is evident that Basket Zaragoza is working hard with Alocén to gradually develop this part of his game, and he is now utilising the step-back to create space to launch off-the-dribble jumpers. He has made them at a decent rate, but the sample remains too small to draw conclusions from it. He still has not added a consistent floater game to his repertoire, but it would not be surprising for him to do so considering his size, length and ability to generate space in the pick and roll.
Defensively, Alocén is aggressive in the passing lanes, and he is quite prolific at getting steals and generating points for himself or others. In one-on-one situations, Alocén’s lateral speed is still average, and he is prone to lapses or miscommunications when defending the pick and roll or to taking excessive gambles when attempting steals. However, he tends to give good effort on this side of the ball and shows good instincts, and it is possible that he will improve as he matures physically.
Overall, Alocén has established himself as the most intriguing guard in the Spanish youth system in the last few years. He is in an excellent position in Zaragoza, as the team has granted him minutes and confidence to develop his game. As somewhat of a late bloomer, it is still tough to pinpoint what his ceiling will be. Although his combination of size and court vision instantly make him a special player, his lack of explosiveness and lateral quickness prevent him from cracking the first round conversation for now. However, an improvement in his physical profile or in his shooting might unlock even more potential and will likely end up determining his ceiling in the long run.