U17M Best prospects by position: Small Forwards

Image of U17M Best prospects by position: Small Forwards
Small forward position had a lot of all-around players in this year’s FIBA U17 World Championship in Zaragoza. The truth is that, just like the shooting guard position, the small forward position had a lot of depth, with a lot of intriguing prospects coming out and impress scouts with their versatility. Scoutbasketball singled out the Top-5 Small forwards of the Tournament.

1.- Yves Pons - SF 1.97 99' France (INSEP Paris)

What stands out on Yves Pons is his athleticism. He is a freak athlete even by NBA standards. He has an amazing, lean body, with terrific wingspan. His vertical jump is mind blowing. He loves to drive strong to the rim and finish with power, especially from the left since he is left handed. He is amazing in transition and that’s where he scores his most points. At the same time, though, he has problems when the game slows down. He has a respectable jumper, but he changes his mechanics, he doesn’t have a mid-range game and can’t really create his own shot. Decision making and feel for the game are also issues. He is active on the boards, especially on offense. On the other side of the floor, he has all the necessary tools to become an excellent perimeter defender. He has great defensive instincts, very good lateral quickness, really active hands and he is a great weak side defender, taking advantage of his athleticism, providing blocks. He doesn’t always take a low stance because he depends too much on his athleticism, but when he takes the right stance – and is focused – it is really difficult to score against him.

2.- Onuralp Bitim - SF 1.97 1999 Turkey (Huntington Prep.)

Very emotional player. He wants to be a leader and has the personality to do so, but he must be able to control his emotions. Not afraid to take a shot when the game is on the line. He is a very good athlete, with great leaping ability with solid size for a wing. He has good scoring instincts but his shot selection needs a lot of work and the same applies to his ball handling with his left hand. His shooting release is inconsistent. On Isolation he has the tendency to settle for mid-range shots instead of going all the way to the basket. When he finds rhythm is difficult to be stopped, but in reality he is a streaky shooter. Moves well without the ball. He is an all-around player, who can score, rebound and even find the open man thanks to his court vision, but at the same time he is limited in ISO situations and turnover prone. Consistency is an issue. He is an above average defender with good lateral movement and nice low stance, but has the tendency to lose focus and commit bad fouls, getting himself in trouble.

3.- Tom Fullarton - SF 2.00 1999 Australia (BA Centre of Excellence)

An all-around wing. He has a good body structure and open shoulders which suggest that his body can fill up nice in the future. He is a team player and a great teammate, but he must learn when to take over a game. Above average on Isolation situations, he can create his own shot. He can shoot off the dribble and drive to the basket, but although he can finish equally well with both hands at the rim he doesn’t have the necessary leaping ability or upper body strength to finish through contact. Very good slasher. He can be used as a point forward thanks to his very good court vision, but his assist/turnover ratio is average. Knows how to explore mismatches by posting up smaller opponents. He is a willing defender and excellent coming from the weak side. He knows how to use his length on Defense and fill the lanes.

4.- Elias Valtonen - SF/SG 2.00 1999 Finland (HBA Marsky)

Versatile player who can play 2 through 4. He is an average athlete. He needs to bulk up his body. Very good shooter in almost any situation: Spot up, Catch and Shot, off the dribble, or even coming of the screens. Although his ball handling on his weak (left) hand needs work, he can create his shot at an acceptable level, but has problems doing it so against elite athletes. He doesn’t have the necessary athleticism to finish at the rim and he needs to have room to gather before jumping. His shooting release is great, but at times he changes it when his is challenged. Most of the time he doesn’t force things and his shot selection is very good. He helps on the boards. He can really see the floor and find the open man, even when he is on the move and penetrates to the basket. He knows how to put his body on defense and even deny an entry pass when his opponent tries to establish position against him in the post, but has problems when athletic wings take the ball and he guards them, because they can post him up. He lacks lateral quickness to defend explosive perimeter players.

5.- Vitalijus Kozys - SF 2.00 1999 Lithuania (BC Lietuvos Rytas)

Multitalented, high energy wing, who can do just about everything on the floor at a good level, but nothing at a great level just yet. He is an above average athlete with good leaping ability and a big wingspan. He is fearless and doesn’t have a problem to play against anybody. Runs the floor really well and fills the lanes. He has the ability to drive to the basket, where can finish with either hand, or find the open teammate in the corner. He must improve his shot off the dribble. Can play the Pick and Roll as the ball handler at a very good level thanks to his good ball handling, very good passing ability and nice court vision. His shooting release is kind of weird and slow, which gives his opponent time to contest his shot. He can score in Catch And shot situations, but he is not a consistent shooter yet. He moves very well without the ball. He is a very good rebounder for his position, especially on the offensive end. He fights for position in the post on defense and knows how to use his body. His lateral movement is above average. He commits too many bad fouls though due to his competitive nature, so he must find a way to control his energy and passion.

By Stefanos Makris and Ramon Carbonell

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