The FIBA Europe Cup’s first group phase is past us. Below is a selection of clips, followed by my All First Round teams and a look at the competition’s rookie imports. Discuss.

FILM ROOM

ANTE ZIZIC FLASHING THE LEFTY KICKOUT: This is from the “just putting it out there” family of clips. More than anything, the 1997-born Zizic, unquestionably the best young player in this year’s competition, is known for his straight, zero-nonsense finishing. He’s athletic, physical and rolls right at you. That’s why this baseline turn and pinpoint, left-handed, on-the-move kickout along the baseline versus Benfica was a bit of an eye-raiser.

ASSEM MAREI’s ACTIVITY LEVEL: A Siauliai rookie who played for NCAA D2 power house Minnesota State-Mankato and led Egypt to an Afrobasket Silver Medal as a 21-year old, Marei’s intensity is absurd. His offensive rebounding numbers are off the charts, currently grabbing every fourth Siauliai miss when he is on the floor, even if that number is inevitable to drop. At first glance, Marei is an unlikely candidate to be a dominant offensive rebounder. Marei is no Stimac, Reyes, Lawal or Marjanovic, he’s neither brutally strong and physical, nor a leaper, nor particularly tall; he’s slender, mobile, skilled and relentless, chasing down shot after shot and diving hard for loose balls.

CHALON’s BALL REVERSALS: Chalon has enjoyed a good start to their season, thanks in part to John Roberson’s passing. Roberson, who played in Sweden last season, moves the ball early and with purpose. His starting backcourt partner Tyler Kalinoski posted a 22.2 Assist Percentage in 2014-15 while never dominating the ball as a Senior at Davidson, generally making good, quick decisions off the catch. Perimeter four Brownlee and stretch four Evtimov also join in on the act.

DARKO JURIC’s VERSATILITY: The Danish international possesses a legit, versatile small forward skill set, handling the ball a fair amount. Second good Eurochallenge/FIBA Europe Cup season in a row.

DARRYL MONROE’s PASSING: Rishon need Monroe’s passing to make the non-stretch four lineup work, and he’s been magnificent finding cutters and spot up shooter from the high post or on the short roll.

DEJAN KRAVIC ON THE SHORT ROLL: Kravic, who played his final two college seasons at Texas Tech and started his pro career for Rethymno last season, is the only import on Den Bosch’s roster and their offense’s centerpiece. The mobile, gangly Ontario native is crashing the glass hard and has an unorthodox scoring game. Kravic was particularly impressive against Chalon’s hard-hedging defense that required him to attack space off the catch and make plays.

SELECTIONS

ALL FIRST ROUND

PG JOHN ROBERSON CHALON
Tiny floor general who moves the ball with purpose and makes plays when necessary. Competitive and composed, moves the ball early, gets everyone involved, someone who changes your team’s culture. Real quality court vision.
PG TEEMU RANNIKKO Kataja
A 35 year old phenomenon, the best shot creator in the competition. Bounces between methodical and magical running the pick and roll. Assists on over half of his teammates’ baskets in his floor time. Has come up with huge baskets down the stretch.
SG/SF QUANTEZ ROBERTSON Frankfurt
Arrived in Frankfurt in 2009 as a close to 25 year old rookie from Auburn and has been their heart and soul ever since. Two way player, all rounder, passes, rebounds, pushes the tempo, posts up, pesky on the ball, great ball thief, physical, great ball IQ. Is playing the best basketball of his life.
SG/SF ANTHONY HILLIARD Tsmoki-Minsk
Swingman who’s shown that he is strong/physical enough to defend the three. Solid secondary ballhandler, makes plays versus the close out, real solid defender. Never stops the ball, knows his role. Hilliard, too, is playing the best basketball of his career.
C DARRYL MONROE Maccabi Rishon
Last year’s LegaDue Gold MVP is having an incredible season, anchoring Rishon’s defense with his wide frame, ball IQ and communication while passing the ball incredibly well on the other end and crashing the glass hard. Rishon is 6-2 in the BSL and 4-2 in FIBA Europe Cup.

ALL HUSTLE

SG JOHN LITTLE Frankfurt
Incredibly pesky on-ball full court defender who was John Patrick’s ball hound in Göttingen and Ludwigsburg. One of several reasons why no one really enjoys playing Frankfurt. Just had his temporary contract extended till the end of the season.
SF TANEL KURBAS Tartu/Rock
A pest on the ball. Off-ball small forward with a limited skill set, but sometimes seen defending point guard on defense. Good size, quick, relentless, hands always up, hunting for deflections.
SF/PF AARON DOORNEKAMP Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s and Team Canada’s glue guy, a gym rat. Doornekamp is gritty, positively dirty, brings size and an underrated, versatile forward skill set.
PF CHRIS WRIGHT Maccabi Rishon
Runs the floor like a deer, creating transition chances for himself and others. Cuts, explodes to the basket, a momentum-shifter.
C ASSEM MAREI Siauliai
Runs the floor hard, dives for loose balls, crashes the offensive glass hard, tips offensive rebounds to himself, keeps so many possessions alive. All over the floor.

ALL UNDER-22

PG DAVID MICHINEAU (’94) Chalon
Intense. Picks up aggressively full court on defense and constantly attacking via dribble drive on the other end. High-speed risk taker who’s enjoying a good, productive season thus far as John Roberson’s backup. Jumpshooting has always been his achilles heel; he’s 7 for 24 from range this season.
SG DANIEL SZYMKIEWICZ (’94) Rosa Radom
Szymkiewicz has come back a long way after injuries sidelined him long term. He’s a playmaking two guard with a versatile skill set who lost some of the athleticism that made him a strog junior team player. Was part of Ponitka’s/Karnowski’s U17 World Cup Silver winning team.
SG YANNICK FRANKE (’96) Groningen
Played eight Eurobasket minutes with the Netherlands last summer, was a volume scorer for Rotterdam last season. Playmaking two guard. Grown-man’s, versatile scoring game that already delivers versus decent competition. Crafty and possesses good court vision, but tends to gun. Ceiling isn’t sky-high.
C VIACHESLAV PETROV (’94) Khimik
Petrov is second amongst centers in Assist Percentage, between Monroe and Johannes Voigtmann. Has already established a nice screen and roll connection with Frazier. Defense isn’t quite up there, though: he’s heavy, poor footspeed, doesn’t recover when he’s out of position. Which happens plenty.
C ANTE ZIZIC (’97) Cibona
Zizic (out short term with a jaw injury) will eventually be drafted; Draftexpress currently estimates him at 35 in the 2017 Draft. Will team up with Ivica Zubac from now on (returned from injury last Monday), who blew minds at the U19 World Cup last summer.

Notes: Alessandre Chassang (’94) and Martin Peterka (’94) also deserve shouts. I guess I am rewarding Petrov’s production here. Petrov’s teammate Oleksandr Antypov (’95) is having his moments as well, was the better junior ball player. Shout out, too, to Porto point guard Pedro Bastos.

A selection of the top long-term prospects would probably look like this: PG David Michineau (Chalon), SF Nik Slavica (’97, Cibona), SF Axel Bouteille (’95, Chalon), PF Stephane Gombauld (’97, ASVEL), C Ante Zizic (Cibona). Plus Ivicia Zubac (’97), of course, who’s only played one game thus far. John Brandmark (’97), the man who won Sweden the Under-18 B Eurobasket last summer with a late four point play, is playing sparingly for Boras Basket.

ALL ROOKIE

PG CHASSON RANDLE Nymburk
NIT champion and MVP with Stanford last season. Plays both guard spots in Nymburk. Still a scorer more than anything. His low 0.2 AST/FGA ratio has translated seamlessly from college. But he’s making fairly quick decisions for a rookie, isn’t in danger of dribbling a hole in the ground. Best skill right now his jump shot, both spotting up and off the dribble.
SG DJ NEWBILL ASVEL
Heavily coveted (especially post-Portsmouth) Penn State senior, one of the continent’s best paid rookies. Needed a couple of games to settle down but has played well since. Playmaking two guard. Strong, muscles his way into the paint. Good mid range game. Sees the half court well, masters the strong side kick out. Moves/reverses the ball early. Finished the first round with a huge 33 point (12/13 shooting) performance in Körmend.
SG TYLER KALINOSKI Chalon
From Davidson. Shot really hasn’t been falling thus far in Pro A, but it has in the FIBA Cup, and the team is winning. Makes such smart basketball plays in his off ball role, and he’s pesky defending on the ball. Limited athlete, though, who tends to overhelp/lacks length on the close out and has really had issues attacking and finishing at the basket early on.
SF THOMAS SCRUBB Kataja
Played at Eurocamp ’14. Serial champion in Canadian college ball together with his brother Phil (rotation player for Canada at the Americas, now AEK). Versatile, unorthodox, long, ballhandling small forward. Very good offensive rebounder. Sees the floor well, dishes on the move: drops off, kicks out. Smooth rather than explosive. Not much of an in-between game.
C ASSEM MAREI Siauliai
Motor, but also skilled. Very good footwork and off-hand. Skilled pick and roll finisher. They run plenty of offense through him in the post. He’s also short and slender for a five, though, has issues defending the post and dribble drives. No rim protector.

ALL 2nd YEAR PRO

PG BRANDEN FRAZIER Khimik
Bit of a surprise to me, but he’s displaying nice playmaking & leadership. Good size, patient in attacking the ballscreen/using re-screens, has developed a decent pick and roll connection with Petrov. Real high release on his J. Aware defeder, scans the environment. Jump-contests, disrupts passes, communicates. Have seen some poor dribble drive D sequences. Long road ahead, but promising.
SG BRADY HESLIP Cantu
Household name after draining 13 threes in a single D-Lague game, dropping 23.7 points a game in the ABA and averaging double figures in scoring on Canada’s strong Americas roster. A sensational gunner, but it’s his secondary playmaking off the catch that appeals, too.
SG SPENCER BUTTERFIELD Juventus
Deadly shooter and real quality secondary playmaker who creates in pick and roll and attacks the close out well. Always been a great rebounder for his size. In the process of carving out a nice niche for himself. LEB Gold schooled. I’m a fan.
C/PF DEJAN KRAVIC Den Bosch
Long, unorthodox, productive big. Played college ball for Texas Tech, first pro season as a backup in Rethymno. Impressed with his ability to box out and still go hard for rebounds with those long arms of his. Good hands. Attacks open space well. Getting more patient. They occasionally go double big, and he’s shown decent big-big passing. Hustles, communicates, cares.
C/PF MELSAHN BASABE Antwerp
Operating more on the inside than in Helsinki at the end of last season. Aggressive post scorer on deep catches, decent rim runner, serious burst putting the ball on the floor from the high post. Inconsistent and sometimes frustrating as a finisher, decision maker and defender, but to provide some perspective: Basabe is still younger than some of the college bigs coming out next summer (Marcus Kennedy/SMU, AJ West/Nevada, Ryan Spangler/Oklahoma, John Brown/High Point as household names)

Note: Possible that I’m snubbing Mike Dixon here. Was strikingly efficient as a 6th man in Memphis. Ran offense real well in the LKL last season. Moves the ball well, finds solutions against whatever the strategy in pick and roll defense. Court vision, scoring. He’s tiny, though.

ROOKIE WATCH

C JERRELL WRIGHT Güssing
The La Salle paint was crowded (his non-shooting frontcourt partner Steve Zack is enjoying a good season within the spread offense for Liepajas/Triobet), but Wright has good passing and spacing around him in Güssing. Under-the-basket, strong lefty big man who shields the ball and uses his body well. Productive. Real threat on the roll-to-high-low and on the offensive glass. Slow on the hedge & recover, and generally not an aware defender (yet). Not unlike other rookie bigs.
SG/SF CHAVAUGHN LEWIS Juventus
Marist (#304 Kenpom Rating) volume scorer who played well in Portsmouth earlier this year. Strong and possesses good burst with the ball, a decent secondary ballhandler at the two guard spot. Plays hard on either side of the ball. Like the tools except for his shooting. Just 4 for 28 from three point range. Always been a subpar three point- and foul shooter. A real problem.
PG/SG KY MADDEN Wroclaw
Was really impressed with his quick, quality passing decisions off the catch in Arkansas. Ball IQ, kickout passer. Hasn’t always looked natural at advancing the ball and running the point. Understands defense but tends to get absorbed by screens and outmuscled on dribble drives. Good size but slender. Team behaviour/communication has looked poor, which maybe isn’t surprising considering their poor start to the season.
C JARVIS WILLIAMS Wroclaw
Murray State senior. Playing full time center in Wroclaw. Undersized and mobile, their most productive player so far. Not sure he has a good defensive IQ, but he’s been really good in after-switch situations on defense, contesting pull ups really well and moving his feet against the dribble drive.
PF JACOB PARKER Tajfun
Led that Stephen F. Austin team together with rugged small forward Thomas Walkup, who’s turning pro next summer. Even played five in college, at 198 centimeters. Never played more than four, five games per season against quality competition. Was struggling for minutes early on but now a 15-20 minutes regular for Tajfun. Hard worker, screener, blue collar stuff. Three point shooter but not entirely perimeter-qualified.
C CARSON DESROSIERS Kataja
The long, slender former Providence (and previously Wake Forest) big is a good rim protector and knows his role on offense. Ran plenty of pick and roll at Providence.
PG MIKE SCOTT Siauliai
Amongst the youngest players from the 2015 seniors pool. Comes from a low college level, middling Big Sky school Idaho (#230 Kenpom Rating). Playmaking and finishing has been a rollecoaster thus far (Assist Percentage has dropped from 36.4 – 18th best in the NCAA last season – to 18.4), but he’s been better than I expected defensively, where he’s agile, active, disrupting on the ball, playing passing lanes, closing out hard.
PG/SG DAVONTE LACY Güssing
The former Washington State All Pac-12 first teamer usually comes off the bench on a balanced Güssing roster. He’s strong for a guard, handling the ball plenty in screen and roll.
C CODY LARSON Güssing
Former South Dakota State. 2015 Summit League DPotY. Coming off Güssing’s bench behind Jerrell Wright. Production is nothing to write home about, but he’s a real blue collar worker who anticipates, disrupts passes on defense, battles in the post and boxes out. Gives them 16 good intensity minutes. Impact outlasts production.
PG MIKH McKINNEY Antwerp
Sacramento State (#187 Kenpom Rating) alum. Volume scoring point guard on a lower college level. Slender rookie point guard who’s showing plenty of rookie symptoms, jury’s still out. Lost his starting job with the coaching change.
PG ISAIAH UMIPIG Rieker Komarno
A tiny playmaker who had an outstanding shooting season for Seattle as a senior. Moves the ball on the outside but doesn’t really turn the corner hard.
PF SETH HINRICHS Porto
Low-key Lafayette senior (#195 Kenpom Rating). Undersized and unathletic for a four, but he’s a fine allrounder, quiet, good character. Has been used more as a screener and inside player than a floor stretcher and has struggled to find his rhythm from the outside. Role player who’ll probably carve himself a niche below the top level.
C BRAD WALDOW Antwerp
There’s plenty of potential minutes for Saint Mary’s former back to back All-WCC first teamer, but he had a soft, unproductive start where he played double digit minutes just twice in seven chances in October. Things have been looking slightly better since the coaching change, though.
C DAMONTRE HARRIS Turow
From Capbellsville/NAIA. Made the SEC All Defensive Team as a sophomore for South Carolina. Long, active interior defender, gets lost plenty defensively, but has his value. Skinny and raw, though.
C/PF COREY PETROS Rilski
Have yet to see more of this guy. Oakland’s career leader in offensive rebounds. He’s built like just that, an offensive rebounder. Not overly defined but strong, physical. Operates below the rim.
PF JONATHAN GILLING Larnaca
Plays power forward in Larnaca. Floor stretcher, decent passer, below the rim, good character. Former Arizona State glue guy. Has a sad backstory.
C ALEX HERRERA KTP
From Fort Lewis, NCAA D2. Huge body who does damage on the glass. Plays below the rim, uses his body well, real force on the offensive glass. Subpar speed, subpar defense. KTP is really struggling, have won just twice in 15 games.
PG MIKE HOLTON JR. Kapfernberg
From Saint Michael’s/NCAA D2. Saw him in person in pre-season where he delived a cool, calm & collected playmaking performance, but the real season is a different animal. He’s an under control ballhandler who needs playmaking at his side. Good character, old (’90) for a rookie. Think he’ll have his place, but in a lesser league.
C/PF ERIC STUTZ Leiden
Very conscious of his work-life balance, but he’s 3 for 17 from the field in the last six games and has been struggling for minutes. Averaged 15.6/5.7 as Corey Walden’s (signed with Antwerp, then Celtics camp, now D-League) wing man at Eastern Kentucky.

ATTACHMENTS

DOMESTIC LEAGUE PERFORMANCES

FIBA Europe Cup participants, their domestic league Pythagorean Win Percentage, and where said “Pyth%” ranks within their leagues.

TEAM
LEAGUE
PYTH% RANK
Royal Hali Gaziantep
Turkish BSL
55.7 7/16
Turk Telekom
Turkish BSL
11.7 16/16
Tsmoki-Minsk
VTB League
54.0 7/16
Enisey Krasnoyarsk
VTB League
45.4 9/16
CEZ Nymburk (1)
VTB League
45.0 11/16
Astana Tigers
VTB League
21.8 13/16
BC Kalev-Cramo
VTB League
10.2 15/16
ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne
French LNB Pro A
91.9 1/18
Chalon-Sur-Saone
French LNB Pro A
50.0 10/18
STB Le Havre
French LNB Pro A
9.8 18/18
Acqua Vitasnella Cantu
Italian Serie A
42.3 10/16
OpenJobMetis Varese
Italian Serie A
26.9 12/16
Fraport Skyliners
German BBL
75.0 4/18
Maccabi Rishon Lezion
Israeli BSL
60.7 4/12
KK Cibona
ABA
42.2 9/15
KK Tajfun Sentjur
ABA
37.7 10/15
Krka Novo Mesto
ABA
34.9 12/15
KS Rosasport Radom
Polish TBL
77.5 5/17
Turow Zgorzelec
Polish TBL
51.0 8/17
Slask Wroclaw
Polish TBL
27.3 13/17
Telenet BC Oostende
Belgian Scooore League
93.3 1/11
Belfius Mons-Hainaut
Belgian Scooore League
50.1 5/11
Antwerp Giants
Belgian Scooore League
36.3 9/11
Siauliai
LKL
49.0 4/10
Juventus
LKL
32.2 6/10
Pieno Zvaigzdes
LKL
21.8 7/10
CS Energia Rovinari
Romanian Divizia A
43.3 8/12
Joensuun Kataja
Finnish Korisliiga
65.8 3/10
KTP Basket
Finnish Korisliiga
11.1 10/10
Falco Trend-Opitka KC
Hungarian NBIA
76.9 4/14
Sopron KC
Hungarian NBIA
68.1 6/14
Egis Kormend
Hungarian NBIA
68.1 7/14
Güssing Knights
Austrian A Bundesliga
86.1 1/10
ece bulls Kapfenberg
Austrian A Bundesliga
51.2 5/10
BK Ventspils
Latvian LBL
99.4 1/11
PBC Lukoil Academic
Bulgarian NBL
96.3 2/10
BC Rilski Sportist
Bulgarian NBL
73.3 3/10
ZZ Leiden
Netherlands DBL
90.9 2/8
Donar Groningen
Netherlands DBL
80.5 3/8
SPM Shoeters Den Bosch
Netherlands DBL
73.7 4/8
SL Benfica
Portuguese LPB
97.0 1/11
FC Porto Ferpinta
Portuguese LPB
94.1 2/11
BC Khimik
Ukrainian SL Favorit Sport
97.8 1/9
Södertalje
Swedish Basketligan
95.8 1/11
Boras Basket
Swedish Basketligan
74.8 2/11
BC Kalev-Cramo
Estonian KML
99.5 1/9
Tartu Ulikool Rock
Estonian KML
88.2 2/9
Helios Domzale
Slovenian SKL
89.9 3/9
Zlatorog
Slovenian SKL
61.6 5/9
CEZ Nymburk (2)
Czech NBL
92.2 2/12
KB Sigal Prishtina
Balkan BIBL
89.6 4/9
Etha Engomis
Cypriot Division A
85.5 3/8
AEK Larnaca
Cypriot Division A
32.7 5/8
MBK Rieker Komarno
Slovakian Extraliga
93.2 2/9
BK Inter Bratislava
Slovakian Extraliga
93.0 3/9
KK Kumanovo
Macedonian Superleague
55.4 5/8
Bakken Bears
Danish Basketligaen
98.6 1/8