Real Madrid's Demin, Duru among youngsters tipped for NBA
The ESPN journalist Mike Schmitz has put together a list of the 11 most promising international under-16 prospects, with a trio of players from Liga ACB clubs included.
Three players at clubs in Spain’s Liga ACB are among the prospects included by ESPN journalist Mike Schmitz in an article profiling the most exciting international under-16 talents whose future may lie in the NBA.
Schmitz, one of the leading experts on everything to do the with the NBA draft, has drawn up the list of 11 players to look out for after watching the various youth championships organised by FIBA this summer in Europe and Africa.
Real Madrid pair Egor Demin and Declan Duru are on the list, together with Joventut’s Ruben Prey, with Demin and Prey the two youngsters who most caught the eye. What’s more, there is a fourth Spain-based player in the shape of Ladji Coulibaly of Unió Sportivo Sant Cugat, a team who play outside the top tier.
Here is what the ESPN journalist made of Demin, Duru and Prey:
Egor Demin, 15
Viewed as Russia’s most promising young talent, Demin joined Real Madrid on a six-year deal at the start of September. Although more and more common, it’s striking that he is a two-metre-tall point guard. What Schmitz saw of Demin at the U16 European Challengers event, where the player was a year younger than most, left him extremely impressed.
“Demin shined as one of the top long-term prospects we saw abroad,” Schmitz says, noting that the guard “has ideal size for a modern playmaker and the type of focus, intensity and poise you look for in an international prospect.” He adds: “Demin was constantly talking defensively and directing traffic offensively, showcasing a feel for the game and maturity you rarely see from a player his age outside of young phenoms like [Luka] Doncic.”
Although his young age meant he was not a starter at the tournament, his per-40-minute averages were 21.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.8 steals. He can also play as a shooting guard, and Schmitz believes that if he ends up in this position, “he'll have more than ample size to operate as a floor-spacing, shot-creating wing”. The journalist also underlines that, although Demin only averaged 30% on three-pointers, he has all the attributes with which to up that percentage considerably.
Schmitz also sees in Demin a player who can have plenty of influence in defence. “Regarded by some as the best Russian prospect since Andrei Kirilenko, expect to hear a lot more from Demin in the future,” he concludes.
Ruben Prey, 16
Although he has had a lot of game time as a small forward, the Portuguese is being tipped to end up on the inside, potentially even as a center. His height - 2.07m - points towards such an outcome. According to Schmitz, he was one of the players who most impressed the NBA scouts at the U16 European Challengers, thanks to his average of 17 points, 18.3 rebounds, two steals and 5.3 blocks - record figures for FIBA’s age-group tournaments.
“Aside from his length, what stood out most about Prey was his combination of hands, touch, defensive instincts and feel,” Schmitz says. “Prey has outstanding timing around the rim as a shot-blocker, which figures to be his initial value-add at the highest level. On top of that, Prey catches virtually every pass thrown his way and has the ability to finish from all different angles with either hand, despite not being the most explosive leaper on the floor.”
Declan Duru, 14
If any player deserves credit for making it onto this list, it is the German small forward Duru. At just 14, competing against lads of 16, the second Real Madrid youngster highlighted by Schmitz is the list’s most unpredictable prospect, but the journalist has his reasons for naming the player.
Although he got much less game time than others, his physical attributes mean he is firmly on NBA franchises’ radar. His per-40 minute averages were 14.3 points and 11.3 rebounds. Schmitz compares his numbers to those posted by Usman Garuba when he was MVP at the U16 European Challenger aged 14 (22.5 points, 17.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.6 steals and 3.9 blocks) and it is clear that he is not as quick a developer as the Spaniard. He has many areas that need improvement, particularly free throws.
However, it’s also true that he has registered impressive figures for the Real Madrid youth team and that his 17 points and 13 rebounds in Germany’s win over Croatia, which saw him pull off a picture-book dunk, made the scouts sit up and take notice. “I’d expect Duru to truly break out at next summer's U16 European Championships,” Schmitz writes.