You know many names were nominated as superstars in the international prospect classes of 2002, 2003 and 2004. So who are among the under the radar prospects? What can these players do in the future? In this series, I will dive briefly into the under the radar prospects from 2002, 2003 and 2004 classes before detailed reports.
Team: Maccabi Rishon Lezion
Born: 16 July 2002
Best skills: Attacking the basket, court vision, perimeter defense.
While Deni Avdija and Emanuel Christopher Sharp stand out as the most talented prospects in Israel, Noam Dovrat is among the important prospects in the 2000-2004 classes of his country after these two names.
Noam Dovrat, the superstar player of the team that won the gold medal in the U18 Euro Championship in 2019, has been playing for Maccabi Rishon Lezion for the last two years under the coaching of Guy Goodes, who has raised a lot of prospects like Deni Avdija.
Dovrat made his FIBA Junior Event debut two years ago at U16 level. He played in seven games and averaged 14.4 points, 1.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.7 turnovers while shooting 30.6% behind the 3-points line. A year later, when he won the gold medal, Dovrat averaged 16.1 points, 4.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 turnovers while shooting 34% behind the 3-points line.
Last season he made his EuroCup debut and played 14.9 minutes per game.
Noam Dovrat possesses good size for an 18 years old point guard, standing at 6-foot-5, he has good length on his arms, a well-developed upper body, quick lower body, and average athleticism. The best thing about his body is that Dovrat knows how to use his hips to gain momentum on his attacks, how to use his chest on his face-up play, and how to use his shoulders to push his opponents and create angles. However, like all prospects, he is too has room to grow.
Despite hitting a lot of 3-pointers at FIBA events, Noam Dovrat does much of his best work on the offensive end as an attack the basket player. Especially last season (2019-2020), as he played with a point guard with high gravity effect, Alex Hamilton, Dovrat had a lot of space to attack the rim and he made good use of these areas. The right-handed Dovrat, does a nice job using change of tempo to get his defender off balance and attack the basket.
With solid touch around the rim, Noam Dovrat is not a prospect who can hit a lot of runners but he does a great job to find points with using the glass. Dovrat’s strong first step, good hip rotate, chest to chest fight and change direction ability on the ground make up for his athleticism.
Dovrat has good pop in the paint, also, he knows how to use a pump fake to get his defender in the air and create his angle. Not a player to force the game, but sometimes using unnecessary floaters. He has burst but not elite, just average in my opinion. His finishing and attacking the basket ability, could be better from the top of the key and right-wing (also uses the right screen, shoulder to shoulder better than the left screen, over shoulder) better than other zones. Dovrat also has give and go ability.
Shooting is the most complicated thing on his offensive arsenal for me. I have a very simple reason: At FIBA events, Dovrat used a lot of threes and his percentages were not bad. However, in Israeli BSL and EuroCup both his volume and percentages were bad. So, I have serious issues about trusting his shot but he has potential. Because he showed that creating off the dribble, shooting off the catch.
Has good footwork and hip rotation on his shots but his elbow point is bad. Dovrat is very inconsistent with room to improve his shooting stroke because of that. The ball doesn’t come out smoothly every time, especially on his 3-point shot. I think his mid-range repertoire is enough for now. He can hit one/two dribble jumpers after a pretty nice hop. But I would like to see him more aggressive to use runners.
Dovrat has good BBIQ and does some crafty skills to surprise his opponents like eye fakes, body turns, drive-and-dish, he is a reactive passer. He is not a major playmaker but does a nice job making decisions passing the ball, always speaking with his teammates, doesn’t force passes, so, doesn’t play gambles and has really good vision for the game in transition situations. However, he is not a player who can run pick-and-roll. Also, lack of elite athleticism limited him as a passer. I mean, he can’t draw two defenders and create space for others. Dovrat still needs some smoothness and has to learn run PnRs.
Average handle the ball ability. Has not any shifty things like deceptive/crafty/defensive/advanced/flashy ballhandling ability but he has not turnover prone. Creating his dribble channel thanks to his burst and change the tempo abilities, Noam Dovrat has enough skills to protect the ball in these free zones. Just like classical European guards.
Biggest improvement area on his offensive arsenal is that off the ball motions. If Dovrat playing around the corners, okay, that’s it, he will wait all 24 seconds without moves. He looks like asleep in these positions.
Noam Dovrat is not a menacing or hard-nosed defender but his defensive performance behind the 3-points line and general team awareness almost excellent.
Doing nice close outs, Noam Dovrat doesn’t have perfect quickness, lateral movement and pop but he is able to recover thanks to his good positioning on off ball motions. He does a good job running around screens and back into the play. The Israeli prospect does not make unnecessary help defenses and continues his off ball defense without leaving his man open, so if he needs to make a move for closeouts he can make it without breaking his team’s defense. Dovrat raises one hand in front of the shooters while holding the other down, to avoid a foul. He sometimes has a problem with agility against his opponent’s quick footwork, but thanks to his active hand coordination and good court vision he can make up for this. He can also react perfectly against shooters.
It’s hard to say that Dovrat is an excellent ISO defender, but despite his lack of athleticism, he has a nice pace, good anticipation ability, and the ability to exploit his opponent’s position with low stance. In other words, Dovrat keeps his body lower than his opponent’s body and prevents his opponent from dribbling quickly. If the attacker (ballhandler) gets an angle to dribble, he generally does a good job getting back in the play. But sometimes he gives space from top of the key to under the basket as he defends his opponent very closely. Although Dovrat has a good lower stance, he can’t guard shifty ballhandlers in these situations.
He needs tons of work on pick-and-roll defense. Despite he has nice potential as an ISO defender, Dovrat’s PnR defense is bad. He can slide smartly with good linear movement at the point of attack but his lack of elite athleticism and his low defensive BBIQ hurts him in this regard.
Dovrat is not a rim protector and not switchable, despite his great length.
You know, there is a type of basketball player who can do a little bit of everything on the offensive end and on the defensive end. Can shoot the ball but not consistently. Reliable handling and passing but without anything pure and crafty. Can dribble the ball, has give and go ability and can create his finishing zone. However, doesn’t have elite athleticism and lacks aggressiveness. On the defensive end, can rebound and score, has good motor behind the 3-pointsline, runs around screens but lacks elite athleticism, footwork, BBIQ limits him. Noam Dovrat is one of these types of basketball players. If he can add consistent shooting on his offensive arsenal with high volume like he did at FIBA events, he can be a great offensive player. However, his athleticism ceiling is a huge question mark in my mind. At the end of the day, I think Noam Dovrat is an under the radar prospect because he plays at high levels with important minutes.
Team: CB Prat Juventud
Born: 16 October 2002
Height: 6′ 7″
Wingspan: 6′ 8.5″
Best skills: Off ball scoring, aggressive finishing, pressure on shooters
“Yannick is a cheerful person despite he’s very cold-blood on the court. He’s one of the best players in the team, but he knows he’s not the leader. He’s not selfish, he’s sharing the ball. He always talks to us. His English is good, his biggest dream is to play in the NBA. Disciplined and hard-working guy. When he was at the camp in 2018, he was not that disciplined, sometimes he joined training late, but in 2019 he was the hardest-working name of the team. I am proud of his progress.”One of assistant coaches of Joventut Badalona’s Youth Team
Yannick Kraag is one of many promising players from Joventut Badalona’s youth system. He showed his name first time to the world two years ago, at FIBA U16 Euro Championship. He played seven games (19 minutes per game) and averaged 7.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 turnovers, 0.7 blocks while shooting just 16.7% behind the 3-points line.
After a year, he was clearly better than 2018. Played in seven games and averaged 10.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 turnovers while shooting 33.3% behind the 3-points line.
He joined Badalona’s youth system three years ago and had a chance to play in ANGT Kaunas last year. This year, he plays for CB Prat in LEB Silver.
Standing 6-foot-7, with a skinny 179-pound frame and a 7-foot wingspan, Yannick Kraag has wide shoulders, core muscles looks, arms are long but not strong. In the lower body, I can say that he is a quick forward thanks to his coordination and reaction. He has to be stronger generally. Right-handed Yannick Kraag has good length for his age but his lack of strength is a problem. Kraag is an athlete who can highlight dunks and plays with fluidity. I mean, in first look, his athleticism package good in terms of explosiveness, vertical pop and hip turn but lacks of strength create some problems.
An instinctual scorer who is aggressive looking to find ways to make things happen, Yannick Kraag’s offensive game is predicated on his ability to use his quickness with the ball to use wings channel, play as a cutter and force opponents to leave a cushion that gives him extra attack zone to get his shot off around the perimeter.
At the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship and 2018 FIBA U16 European Championship, his main scoring weapon was off-ball motions. In these two tournaments, he scored 48 points while playing as an off-ball player with 75% FG. In doing so, Kraag made excellent use of drives from the wings. He created a weakness on the opponent’s defenses with his burst and go-stop-go-stop techniques.
The Dutchman used his teammate’s screens well off the ball. When picked up the ball, Kraag finishes possessions sometimes after one-two dribble in three to four seconds, sometimes with a quick dunk or fluid athleticism. Running in transition well, Yannick Kraag can dribble open court and finishes positions with quickness. Also, he’s a good dribbler on half-court as a secondary ballhandler.
However, I think he has room to work on his handling & passing package and general on-ball offense. Kraag isn’t a bad handler or passer, but his passing and handling abilities are too casual. He can’t play as a handler or roller in pick-and-roll games. He needs weapons on his arsenal to improve his offensive game.
Shooting is a huge question mark… Yannick Kraag is a cold-blooded player. He has the mentality to shoot against pressure. He reads the game and makes a decision to use his shot. Kraag can create his shots in mid-range. He also has nice extension and release making it difficult for most players to contest or block his shot but his mechanics are inconsistent and not too smooth.
Sometimes solid, sometimes smooth, I think his lack of strength hurt his shooting, also, his volume is not high in 3-pointers. He just hit these shoots as a CnS player. As I mentioned, he has BBIQ but has to choose his role as a shooter.
The lack of elite strength and athleticism hurts his defensive stock. He needs to work on his overall defensive performance but, there are some good signs.
Showing good reaction on the ball defensively, Kraag does a pretty nice job putting pressure on shooters. I think he isn’t a pesky defender in general but with his closeouts and eye-hand coordination, he is a decent pesky defender.
Kraag knows how to give bad angles to his opponent’s thanks to his BBIQ, lateral movement and body control. Showing a good stance, he is an aggressive defender and you can see his aggressiveness last summer.
However, that’s it. I think he needs to improve the rest of his defensive game. He has a great vertical pop but doesn’t use this to protect the rim consistently. He reads screens well but doesn’t run well around screens. Not switchable, not running through passing lanes well, has the ability to get steals on the ball on defense thanks to his quick hands and stance but he is not a deflection player; I think he needs a TON of work on his defense.
Yannick Kraag is a player who has the potential to be a versatile offensive player. Because he showed that he can shoot the ball despite some problems on his shooting form, has good explosive and aggressive athleticism, active off the ball scoring, with average handling and passing abilities. However, his areas for improvement are some of his best areas. Plus, has a lot of room to get better on the defensive end. At the end of the day, Kraag’s athleticism, BBIQ and aggressiveness are excellent, those things and his off-ball scoring ability make him an under the radar prospect for me.
Team: Stella Azzurra
Born: 6 January 2002
Height: 6′ 9″
Best skills: Can finish versus contact, versatile defender, can guard multiple positions.
Leo Menalo is one of the notable prospects from the KK Cibona Academy. After started basketball in Cibona, he transferred to Stella Azzurra Youth Academy in Rome. He played in 2018-2019 Kaunas ANGT and 2019-2020 Munich ANGT. At the 2018-2019 Kaunas ANGT, he averaged 7.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, three assists and 3.2 turnovers. After a year, averaged 7.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 turnovers in Munich. Like most of Stella’s youth players, Menalo plays for Roseto Sharks in Legadue Gold.
He has not played in his National Team yet.
A lanky 6-foot-9 point forward with a solid frame, Leo Menalo possesses impressive length for an 18 year old European prospect. Strong arms and wide shoulders give him nice biceps muscles, good core power, hollow chests. I impressed with his general length and upper body but his arms not too long despite his general body. No quickness on his lower body, long arms, strong hips, smooth hip turns, good lateral movement, and nice vertical pop but he needs work on his linear movement and quickness.
Leo Menalo is a smooth athlete who can play above the rim, finish in traffic, change direction both on the ground and in the air, has inside hand finishing ability and can go up and catch lobs smoothly. I don’t think he is an excellent explosive athlete but he can dunk in empty spaces.
The Croatian prospect has the ability to score in traffic thanks to his great length and body coordination.
With a quick jump, Menalo is a consistent finisher around the rim. He can finish with both hands, using his length well on finishes. For example, when he dribbles the ball against his defender, Menalo changes his direction after a nice hop, uses a strong first step, shifts his weight to the defender and uses his hips to create his left/right layup angle. He jumps nicely, using his wide shoulders and finishing with his right hand while using his left hand to avoid block. If his opponent is around 6-foot-8 or more, he usually uses the glass very well. So, he is also a smart finisher.
Shooting ability is questionable. Leo Menalo is not a player who can force it consistently, so he is not a player who can use unnecessary 3-points/2-points shots. But his volume is low, too low. He showed potential as a jump shooter, with the skill to create separation off the dribble and make spot-up 3-pointers. However, he is inconsistent and I think the biggest reason about is his knee position. His kneecaps are very close, looks like they are stuck. His elbow and body looks good but his knee positions have a bad effect on his shooting form, Menalo can’t gain momentum from his lower body because of that. I really hope that he will change his shooting form in Rome.
Besides shooting, I have some concerns about Menalo’s handling and passing abilities. He is not a player who can set up/run the offense, he is just a read and react passer but the good thing here is that his team awareness is good. He talks with his teammates but when he has to take action, this role is not fit for him. From the handling side, Menalo can protect the ball thanks to his body but when he waits under the basket with the ball, turnover coming up. Needs some consistency and quickness.
Nice pick-and-roll potential as a roller. He plays with solid pace, shows skills to manipulate the opponent’s defensive shape, can roll very well in side PnRs. Despite not having elite shooting threat, his pick-and-pop threat is here. So, if Menalo can shoot 2.2/5 per game, good things will happen.
Leo Menalo’s length makes it difficult for his opponents trying to score off the dribble. But more importantly, he can guard multiple positions thanks to his physical tools.
Knows how to rotate, slide around the perimeter, talk on defense, Menalo does good job keeping his hands out, tagging rollers and/or cutters off the ball motions, protect the rim and cover the pick-and-roll. In my opinion, he does a little bit of everything on the defensive end, except make something on shooters.
The best thing he does on the defensive end is guarding face-up situations. Despite his lack of quickness, he has nice hip turns and body coordination. Menalo uses his length, active hands, refined footwork, and solid stance.
Covering the pick-and-roll situations well thanks to his game reading ability but he needs work here. He struggles in keeping up against quicker point guards but doesn’t have this problem guarding forwards.
Menalo does a great job closing out. His good timing on reactions makes him a good closeout defender in my opinion. He does not have great athleticism tools in terms of smoothness or popping when getting out to shooters but his coordination and motor help him here.
I trust him as an off-ball motion defender. I think that he knows how to run around the screens very well, also, knows how to react quickly and correctly to a possible opponent’s fake set well.
The biggest areas for improvement (despite some flashes) about his defense is pressuring shooters when he plays one-on-one and rebounding. Despite being 6-foot-9, Menalo’s rebounding skill is bad for his size and position. He does need work here.
Leo Menalo is one of the best under the radar prospects and I have a very simple reason: He is a 6-foot-9 forward but also can play as a point guard. So, he is a point forward with versatility in his offensive and defensive arsenals. If he can add some shooting threat and at least a little bit shiftiness on his ballhandling skills to his arsenal, he will be clearly one of the best prospects from Europe. Similar to Vit Krejci.