Szent Istvan Cup — Real Madrid U16 review [ENG]

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Urban Klavzar (6’0 G, 2004) Slovenian guard Urban Klavzar made the most of Matteo Spagnolo’s absence from the Szent Istvan Cup and was Real Madrid’s most solid and consistent player in Hungary. His shooting percentages during the tournament were very good for a 2004 player, but he did not act as a traditional point guard. Instead, Klavzar normally played beside another guard (Maganto, Calvo, Núñez) who took over floor general duties, and thus focused on exploiting his scoring abilities at the expense of his point guard skills — for instance, his assist numbers were rather low considering his usage during the weekend.

Klavzar does not have excellent size yet at only 6’0 but has a big and strong body, and is definitely more physically developed than his peers. He looks to have a decent wingspan despite his lack of size, and could have some potential on defense if he keeps working on his footwork on that end of the floor.

Juan Nuñez (5-11 G, 2004). It’s evident that 5’11 PG Juan Nuñez grew up watching Sergio Rodríguez, because he shares his same spirit and approach to the game. Nuñez is an extremely creative and bold point guard who likes to attempt spectacular but difficult moves, both when passing and when dribbling. He will regularly chose the no-look pass before the safer, more conservative option. He has good ball-handling skills that, when combined with his burst, allow him to blow by opponents with ease. Furthermore, Nuñez is overall a player with solid instincts, both on offense (displaying very good court vision) and on defensa (getting plenty of steals in the passing lanes). This makes him a special player, able to change the course of a game when he gets on the floor — as we saw when he commanded Real Madrid’s comeback in the second half of the final against Stellazzurra Roma.

However, as expected in a 2004 kid playing up a year, he ends up making many mistakes with his high-risk style. He has a relatively high number of turnovers, and will frequently dribble too much and stall the offense. Despite being quite agile and having a good first step, he still has an underdeveloped physical profile and this shows especially when finishing around the rim. He also has plenty of room for improvement in his shooting ability. S

Konstantin Kostadinov (6-7 F, 2003) The Szent Istvan Cup was the first international tournament after Sant Josep and La Orotava where Kostadinov has been forced to play as a wing for most of the game, and it is easy to see that he still needs to get used to his new surroundings. However, he looks to have all the necessary tools to succeed in the transition to being a full-time perimeter player. Kostadinov is a hard work on the court, and his size and strength allows him to guard both interior and perimeter players. Him getting ‘stuck’ at only 6’7 since a relatively young age has made him work on his athleticism and, despite a slight lack of mobility, he shows some potential when defending wings. His main area of improvement, and an area that most players in his profile struggle with, is shooting — and that might be precisely the area of his game that is most advanced already. Although he is not a consistent shooter yet, he has good footwork and good shooting mechanics.

When penetrating, Kostadinov is quite used to working from the high and mid posts and is a very good finisher at this level. However, he did not seem to have much confidence in his dribbling ability, and he did not always seem willing to exploit clear slashing opportunities, instead moving the ball around or launching a jump shot. During the tournament, he regularly looked for post-up opportunities against smaller wings and scored successfully, although this skill may not translate to a higher level as opponents become bigger and stronger. Finally, although he did not post great shooting numbers, he has clean shot mechanics and Real Madrid played several sets aiming to find him open for a jump-shot — an obvious sign that his coaches and teammates trust him with those shots.

Eli John N’Diaye (6-8, C, 2004) A Real Madrid product that was notably absent from preseason tournaments due to a shoulder injury, N’Diaye arrived at the Szent Istvan Cup as the X-factor for Los Blancos to top a Stellazzurra squad that, led by C Yannick Nzosa, demolished Real Madrid at the prestigious U16 La Orotava tournament last October. Although his presence was definitely important —especially on the boards— it was not enough to defeat a dominant Nzosa, who looks like the best big man prospect of his generation in Europe. Nonetheless, N’Diaye was the best interior player on the Real Madrid roster, an excellent rebounder and an offensive option both after offensive boards and even when daring to shoot from the midrange and even from deep.

N’Diaye combines some classic traits from similar African youth prospects in the past with an unusual tool: his shooting. He remains a tall and strong player, although he does not quite reach the lofty levels of other elite prospects such as Usman Garuba or Khalifa Diop at his age. He also has some mobility, but he does not quite reach the standard set by the likes of Amar Sylla or Biram Faye. He does, however, show some interesting shooting tools, with a fluid shot, plenty of confidence and repeatable (if slightly unorthodox) mechanics. His physical progression will be important to watch, as he is still just a 2004 player and might still have some growing left.

Tristan Vukcevic (6-10, F, 2003) Tristan Vukcevic is a classic Euro 4 that combines great size with mobility and speed, looking like one of the most important prospect of his generation. Although he still looks rather raw, he is adapting well to his new team despite having only been in Real Madrid since the start of this season. Vukcevic is not really shouldering a large offensive burden right now, but he has some well-developed skills such as dribbling and shooting that are quite advanced for his age and that, with continued work, could turn him into an outstanding player.

However, at this point in time, Vukcevic is a slightly soft player. He missed several finishes close to the rim due to his lack of toughness. This trait also pushes him to play further away from the rim — not just to exploit his shooting and dribbling abilities, but rather to avoid contact in the paint. He was once again outplayed by a physically superior player like Nzosa, who already hurt him in La Orotava at the start of the season.

Owen Aquino (6-6 F, 2003) Owen Aquino was the biggest “casualty” of all his Real Madrid teammates being fully healthy and thus of Kostadinov playing on the wing. Aquino’s profile is indeed somewhat similar to his Bulgarian teammate’s: he has some power forward traits but he projects to be a full time wing in the professional ranks. However, Aquino is less technically developed at this point in time. He has above average athletic gifts for a Spanish player, some mobility and the ability to defend both interior and perimeter players — which he can do better than Kostadinov. However, his offensive game is limited to fastbreaks and open shots, and his presence was not as impactful as it has been in the past.

Eshete Calvo (5-10 G, 2003).After having showed some solid chops both at Sant Josep and at La Orotava, Madrid native Eshete Calvo had a somewhat quiet tournament relative to expectations. Although his general profile is that of a defensive role-player who can bring up the ball and shoot from deep every now and then, Calvo was broadly unable to capitalise on fellow PG Matteo Spagnolo’s absence, which his teammates Maganto and Santiago were able to better replace. Although Calvo keeps having some good athletic gifts, he was unable to finish inside and was unlucky from deep as well— overall, a poor outing from a player who should nonetheless be one of the main candidates to make the Spanish U16 National Team roster this summer.

Ab Sediq Garuba (6-2 GF, 2004) Stating that Ab Sediq Garuba is a perimeter version of his brother Usman carries some truth and is not simply an easy comparison. However, he has not yet grown much (he must be somewhere around 6’1 or 6’2) and has been playing as a forward — a role he can fulfil for now by compensating for his lack of size with strength and athleticism, but those traits will likely not be enough to bridge the gap at the pros. During the tournament, it was evident that Real Madrid wanted to force him to play in perimeter situations, and he was always played along with a 5, a 4 and Owen Aquino — forcing the young Garuba brother to play some perimeter minutes.

For now, he remains a high-level role player for this category. He must improve his dribbling quite considerably, but he is a good finisher and, just like his brother, has a special feel for passing which will be useful when adapting to perimeter positions.

Stefan Vukcevic (6-8 C, 2003). Stefan Vukcevic is clearly an offense-oriented player that has been displaced to the last spot of the big man rotation with all his teammates (Eli John N’Diaye, Tristan Vukcevic and Kostas Kostadinov) healthy again. Despite not having very many minutes, he showed his great footwork and touch around the rim, but he’s still missing some toughness and aggression on both ends of the floor. He is currently extremely thin, and opponents have been more than able to score on him relatively easily because of his height. We will closely monitor his progress from now on, especially given the level of competition at this position.

Carlos Santiago (5-11. G, 2003) y Diego Maganto (6-2. G, 2003). Carlos Santiago and Diego Maganto are paced together. They are both versatile perimeter players, although Santiago is more of a PG whilst Maganto is essentially a wing that couldn’t grow any more and will thus likely be undersized. They both do whatever is necessary for the team: they can make a 3 pointer, play passable defense, do not need the ball and are excellent complements for the players already on Real Madrid’s squad.

Pavle Stosic (6-3, F, 2004).Pavle Stosic (a 2004 player) did not play enough to really evaluate his game at the Szent Istvan Cup 2019.

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