Recap: Junior ABA League

Recap: Junior ABA League

Last weekend Junior ABA League was played. We had chance to see top prospects from all region competing against each other at one place. We will focus on Serbian players who stand out at this tournament:

Dalibor Ilić 
PF/SF | 2000 | 206cm | Igokea
Unbelivable tournament for Ilić. He averaged 29.0 Pts, 17.1 Reb, 3.5 Ast, 4.5 Blk and had averege index 43.8 which is the most on all tournament. He also was the best rebounder and blocker of the tournament and finished second in points behind Pažin.
He dominated the opponents. Even he can play both forward positions, on the tournament he play exclusively as a PF and definitely that position is better suit him for his style of play. He positioning excelent on the post,  always wide on his legs keeping the strong base, gets deep in the paint using a lot of post pin plays to easly gets to the basket. Doesn’t have a high level low post skills, but has shown the ability to turn over both shoulders. Very aggressive rebounder, can grab a rebound and instantly start the offense. Great shot blocker and protects the paint. He is still not a threat from outside, but he knocks down some threes when he was open. Despite his frame, he still needs to add some pounds of muscle and work on his physical toughness, but it’s evidently improving.

Luka Cerovina
SF/SG | 2000 | 201cm | Mega Bemax
Silent leader. That’s the best nickname for Cerovina. The difference is obvious in his game when he plays with confidence and when he is aggressive. He played this tournament very mature. He averaged 20.5 Pts, 7.3 Reb and 4.5 Ast. He finished the third overall in index rating. He had his one man show against Igokea when he puts 35 points (26 just in the first half).  Has the ability to knock down shots from distance off a variety of dribble moves and not just off the catch or off of simple one-dribble pull ups. He can score on mulitiple ways, from P&R, isolations or just simple spot-up situations. When he goes to the basket, he is adept at using his body to shield himself from bigger defenders and finish through contact. He improved a defense, which was his main weakness, especially laterall movements. He plays with flashes, still lack of consistency, but when he is in the zone he is a real threat for opponent.

Nemanja Popović
PF/SF | 2001 | 204cm | Crvena Zvezda
Popović averaged 16.2 Pts, 4.4 Reb, 3.6 Ast, 63%FG. Nemanja was the leader of the team, leading the Crvena Zvezda to the first position in the group stage. He is a real definition of all around player. Long, mobile, well-coordinated, and fluid forward. He can score either with his back and face to the basket where he can attack with good change of directions and body control.Very effective from low post from where he can score or hits open teammates. Thanks to his lenght and good feel for block he protected the rim very well. When he is aggressive and when he plays with a energy he is a real force in offence and defence too. Shoot still remains main weakness but he attempted 10 3pt in this 4 games, made only 2, but it seems that something positive happens when it comes about his shooting.


Đorđe Pažin
SG/SF | 2001 | 197cm |Partizan
Pažin averaged 27.4 Pts, 2.4 Reb, 2.2 Ast, 3.0 Stl. He was one man team for Partizan in this tournament. In the absence of Dušan Tanasković, he remain only leader in the team and he maybe burned in the desire to carry on the team all by himself. He was the best scorer on the tournament but he shots only 35% from the field. Main thing that he needs to work on is shot selection. He is type of player who lives and dies from shooting. He can score from every spot on the floor on many different ways and that’s makes him a uniqe player in Europe in his generation. He is just a natural scorer. He can pull up from from the drible, from catch and shoot situations or coming off the screens equally good and thanks to his very good body control he can make tough off the balance shoots. He was the leader of his team in this tournament, but that was not enough for a better team result. He had two 30+ games, against Olimpija 35 Pts and 37 Pts agianst Crvena Zvezda.

Aleksandar Langović
PF/C | 2001 | 205cm | Mega Bemax
He averaged 18.3 Pts, 8.3 Reb, 1.3 Ast and 1.3 Blk on the tournament. Langović started tournament with poorly performance against Cedevita, but how the tournament moved away he played better and in the last game he gave the best performance against Igokea in direct duel with Ilic where he put double double with 25 pts, 13 reb and 3 blk. It was visible how much means to him games on senior level in KLS for OKK Beograd. He is mobile athletic power forward with long arms, great footwork and base. He has the strength and athleticism to finish through contact and can play above the rim and is a very reliable finisher, shot 65% from the field. Great offensive rebounder, creates a lot of second chance opportunities for his team. He improved back to basket game, needs to work on his weaker right hand. He doesn’t afraid to shoot from three point line, but he still needs to work on his shoot. On this tournament he shoot just 1/14 from 3PT.

Lazar Vasić
PG/SG | 2001 | 192cm |Crvena Zvezda
Vasić averaged 11.2 Pts, 2.6 Reb, 2.0 Ast, 2.0 Stl. It was interesting to see how Vasic will play after Stevan Karapandzic arrived to the team, but he plays surprisingly good. Coach Djeric did a excellent job finding the roles for both players and Vasic and Karapandzic play very good in pair. Lazar is effective player in the offense, has a nice feel for the game. He has a good first step that helps him blow by opponent, he can creates tons of space for others thanks to his ability to penetrate and leaves open teammates. Also he is good in catch and shoot situations. This was good tournament for Lazar and his the best game was against Partizan, where he scored 22pts, also against Cibona made a winning bucket for his team with excellent layup in the last second of the match.

Filip Njegovanović 
SG/SF | 2000 | 198cm | Igokea
Very solid tournament for Njegovanović where he averaged 9.5 Pts, 3.3 Reb, 2.3 Ast. He is still quite unknown player for the basketball world, but he came to Igokea this season from Slavija where he had very good senior season. In his first year he imposed like a Igokea’s leader together with Ilić and become very important piece in the team. He is very versatile player who can cover all outside postions. Promising as a shooter. Very good in spot up situations and also shooting coming out of screens. Knows how to use a screen set for him on and off the ball. Has big and strong body with strong base which helps him to put on post smaller and weaker defenders. He also knows to set the offense and run a P&R as a secondary PG. Good and aggressive defender. In defense he is often in charge for best opponents players. Plays with lot of energy.

Branislav Sužnjev
PG | 2001 | 185cm |Partizan
Branislav Sužnjev averaged 6.6 Pts, 5.0 Reb, 2.6 Ast, 2.0 Stl. He is a pass first PG who plays with a lot of passion and energy. He has a high level of explosiveness and quickness. He is limeted when he is driving to the basket when it comes to finishing, but can drive and kick to the open teammates. He posses a good level of athleticism which helps him to keep up with taller and stronger guards. Plays hard on the defensive end,  aggressive on ball, has instincts in the passing lanes. Very fast in the open court, runs transition and excels as a finisher. Needs to improve shooting, because he is not really a threat behind 3PT line. Overall this was pretty solid tournament for Suznjev without much oscillation in the games, best game was against Buducnost where he achieved 17EFF.

Other players notable mentions:

Lazar Živanović | SG/SF | 2001 | 199cm | Crvena Zvezda – 9.6 Pts, 2.4 Reb, 1.6 Stl
Aleksa Marković | SF/PF | 2001 |197cm | Mega Bemax – 10.3 Pts, 5.5 Reb, 1.8 Ast
Lazar Stefanović | SG | 2002 | 198cm | Partizan – 12.4 Pts, 5.6 Reb, 1.8 Stl
Dušan Nešković | SF/SG | 2000 | 200cm | Igokea – 10 Pts, 2.1 Reb, 40% 3pt
Luka Novaković | SF | 2001 | 195cm | Partizan – 7.4 Pts, 4.2 Peb, 1.2 Stl


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