It was an interesting off-season in a changing ACB. Teams have different budgets and there is a lot of youth coming in from all around Europe in the league. To help decipher all of this we also brought in Austin Green from LosCrossovers.com, the source for ACB writing in English. Austin lived in Madrid for the whole 2014-15 season covering the ACB and will be based in Sevilla for this season.
For Part Three, we look at the all-conquering Real Madrid youth team that crushed both the Spanish u18 Championships and the Adidas Next Generation Tournament held over Euroleague Final Four Weekend. Austin and Sam were in the house for all of that, and Rob checked into the ANGT.
Luckily for prospect-watchers, the class of 2015 has dispersed and should get the playing time they need to progress. Playmaker Andres Rico heads to San Sebastian, while athletic wing Santiago Yusta has signed with Obradoiro. Fellow wing Jonathan Barriero is possibly off to Ourense while future NBA lottery pick Luka Doncic has stayed with the big club. The question is…
Who are you most excited to watch?
Sam Meyerkopf: I’m pretty pumped for Yusta in Obradoiro. The situation and player just fit. Yusta is a slasher and a really good athlete and finisher. He can get to the hoop with and without out the ball. He often ran that famous Rudy baseline cut and finished a lob thrown up by Rico or Doncic at the ANGT and Spanish Championships.
At 6’7″ Yusta has tremendous size for a wing and really uses it to his advantage. At the Madrid ANGT it felt like you couldn’t look away for a moment because he might rim rattle one down. Yusta also loves to play in transition, when the court opens up you can see an extra boost in his step.
Because of his confidence, pro ready body and strength, and game, Yusta seems ready to be a contributor of some sort in the ACB. With Obradoiro he’ll be given opportunity as this is a team that is very creative and willing to play young players. Obradoiro is a shooting and spacing team, they rely heavily on the 3-pointer. Yusta’s shot is still very much a work in progress but his slashing ability will be a needed piece to go along with all of the shooting in Obradoiro.
While he won’t be called on to handle the ball nearly as much as on the u18s, he won’t just be a spot-up shooter. Surrounded by superstar teammates he should get the space to show off his complete offensive game. Close out hard and he’ll be able to slide past and pull up or find the right pass. Hell, I’d love to see him just dribble to the 3pt line and pull up like he did in the ANGT Final. There’s a decent chance he does something like Hezonja’s 8×3 game at some point.
Watching Doncic in the ANGT Final was reminiscent of seeing Dario Saric in 2012. Some players just outgrow youth hoops way before they’re too old to be eligible - see Furkan Korkmaz this summer for Turkey. He was quicker and more skilled than anyone else, and he also had that in-control athleticism that elite players possess. It’s a different thing being able to dunk on a 12-foot rim than being able to use that spring-in-the-step to be able to put your body into the position to make plays. Doncic has graduated early, so let’s see if he can prosper against grown men.
Austin Green: Ricoooooooooo!