NB: Statistics are to be taken with a grain of salt. Especially for percentages and turnovers. During the tournament, there were more turnovers than assists logged. These are young players who are not used to playing together, which is an important mitigating factor.


Mohab Abdelatif (Egypt): Guard (2002)

Statistics: 27.6pts / 6rbs / 4asts / 1.8stls / 4TO // 47% from the field (48/102), 33% from three (4/12) and 77% from the Free Throw Line (38/49)

“The nicest surprise of the tournament and a player I hadn’t seen play before. Abdelatif is an undersize ball-handler. He started the competition with 73 points in two games. Comfortable with the ball in his hands, he showed great touch and an interesting vision: he was easily the best pure point guard of the tournament, and because of that, he really jumped off the screen. He has areas to work on, especially in his shot selection (not enough 3 pointers, too much mid-range) and his decision-making in the open court, but the way he was able to finish at the rim against prospects like Ibou Badji or Khalifa Diop is reassuring for his future. A player I would love to see in the NCAA or in Europe as soon as next year!” (Alan)

“A joy for coaches. Fighting spirit, fierceness, activity. Adbelatif was the main guy on the Egyptian roster. Alan speaks about him as a point guard, but I am not really there for now. He is for sure a ball handler, but most of his points came at the rim, where he was able to showcase his strength. He creates more for himself than for his teammates and we need to value this fearless mindset that he has. Aside from his energy and activity on the offensive glass, he is also able to pull-up from mid-range. Even if he relies too much on his right hand, he showed good decision-making on pick-and-roll situations. I would like to see him play in the NCAA or in Europe, where he will become a fan favorite. As for his weaknesses, his lack of height, his late physical maturation and his inability to shoot from deep has scouts wondering about his pro future at the highest level.” (Niko)


Mambourou Mara (Guinea): Guard/Forward (2003)

Statistics: 19.3pts / 6.5rbs / 1.5asts / 1.3stls / 1.5blks / 6TO // 39% from the field (29/74), 14% from three (3/21) and 45% from the Free Throw Line (16/35)

“Mambourou Mara was the best player on the worst team of the tournament (one win in five games), but he was still able to showcase a ton of skills. I believe Mara was the most explosive athlete of this year’s U18. A player that feasted in transition because of his elite physical abilities. Because he was on a bad team with a poorly built roster, Mara had to do more than he was capable of, something that reflected on his efficiency. Turnovers are a result of bad choices in the open court, but also a result of possessions where he was asked to create for others, something he is not able to do at this stage of his development, especially because of a poor handle. Mara is still a young and incredible athlete, and I would love to see him in a team that is built better, where he would flourish as an off ball scorer and in transition, and be disruptive on the defensive end.” (Alan)

“Mara was indeed the leader of a weak Guinean selection, a team that had to play without Thierno Sylla and Moussa Cissé. Mambourou Mara is a pure slasher and great in the open court. Therefore, he needs space to operate. He has still a ton to work on, notably his jump-shot, the form is not ideal (he puts the ball behind his head). Aside from the jump-shot, Mara is a very aggressive player. Unstoppable on his right hand. He showed abilities to find his teammates on the low post, but let’s not pretend this is a strength of his game, Mara is first and foremost a finisher. On the defensive end, he showed solid tools and a great attitude. He loves to challenge himself and shut down the opposing team’s best player. He has a good wingspan, something that helped him to protect the rim and disrupt opposing players. A lot of work still needs to be made with Mara, but the foundation and the potential are immense. He still plays in an Guinean academy and has been linked with other academies in Europe or in America.”(Niko)


Babacar Sané (Senegal): Forward (2003)

Statistics: 14pts / 6rbs / 1.2asts / 2.8TO // 39% from the field (27/69), 20% from three (3/15) and 50% from the Free Throw Line (13/26)

“Sané is a physical project. He has size, length, thickness and athletic abilities to shine. He has shown some incredible flashes, powerful dunks and showed incredible hang time. But Sané has still a lot of work to do technically. He needs to improve both his passing and his handle. His energy on the boards was good and he displayed a great mindset; however, he also lacks vision and control with the ball in his hands. He was not helped by the absence of a pure point guard in his team, something that impacted so much the play of various prospects.” (Niko)

“One of my crushes of the tournament, and a player I didn’t know before. Sané was created in a lab to be a forward in the modern game: he combines strength, length, size and explosiveness. Very comfortable in the open court, he is less relaxed on half court situations as his handle remains the main problem in his game. His loose handle restricts his playmaking and his attempts at the rim. Percentages on three pointers and free throws may indicate a terrible jump-shot, however, the form is good, especially on catch-and-shoot situations and at the free throw line. On defense, the combination of wingspan and strength allows Sané to defend multiple positions. I look forward to see him play in Europe, as he is still a member of the NBA Academy in Africa.” (Alan)


Khalifa Diop (Senegal): Center (2002)

Statistics: 12.6pts / 11.8rbs / 3.4asts / 3.4stls / 1.2blks / 4.8TO // 55% from the field (22/40), 25% from three (2/8) and 48% from the Free Throw Line (17/35)

“In this tournament, Diop was asked to play the 4 because of the presence of Ibou Badji, something that may explain his subpar play during this competition. Without any pure point guard, Diop was not really in the best position to shine offensively. For example, he had little opportunities of at the low post or in pick-and-roll situations, something he had shown great abilities with Gran Canaria. However, he was able to showcase improvements on his shot: the form was better, the curve too. He also showed good passing skills on offense, as he displayed a pretty interesting vision. On the defensive side, he is still very reliable, especially on the boards. Because he played next to Badji, he had possessions away from the rim against smaller players. His lateral quickness was not bad, even if we prefer to see him close to the rim as a control tower.” (Niko)

“Because Diop was not playing his natural position, he had a very frustrating tournament. As Niko said, the presence of Badji had Diop sliding down to 4, play in fewer pick-and-roll situations and therefore, less interesting situations for his NBA evaluation. This is the second straight tournament where Diop has not play his best position (he played the 4 with Badji at the 5 and Amar Sylla at the 3 during the 2019 U19 World Cup in Greece). This is very frustrating because the player we see in Spain was not able to showcase his abilities: he had little opportunities to protect the rim outside of patrolling the weak side and also few lob opportunities on offense. Even with that situation, Khalifa Diop showed some great passing flashes and a better shooting form. On the defensive end, he combines strength and rim gravity. I look forward to see him play with Gran Canaria, simultaneously in EuroCup but also in his domestic league.” (Alan)


Ibou Badji (Senegal): Center (2002)

Statistics: 11pts / 13rbs / 1.2asts / 2.6blks / 1.4TO // 54% from the field (20/37) and 57% from the Free Throw Line (15/26)

“Barcelona’s center Ibou Badji has been labeled the best African prospect of the 2002 generation for a long time. Like Diop, Badji was playing in a very talented but unbalanced Senegal roster with a lack of capable perimeter play. However, he was able to clean up a lot of things in his game compared to previous FIBA tournaments: he had fewer turnovers, better numbers at the free throw line and a couple of mid-range jumpers. With his 7’8 wingspan, Badji is amazing at catching lobs, a situation we didn’t see enough in Egypt because of the level of guard play on his team. On the defensive end, Badji still bites too much on pump fakes, but display an elite combination of dissuasion and rim protection.” (Alan)

“Ibou is a freak. His combination of size, mobility and athletic tools is just unbelievable. He was the player we all wanted to see in the tournament because he is still playing in Barcelona’s B team. This tournament is the best Badji has ever had on the international scene and yet, I remain unsatisfied. I understand he is a great dunker, a good finisher in the open court, a better shooter than before and has elite flashes on the defensive end; nevertheless, he is still not able to create for himself. He has still no moves in the post and loves to do things he is not able to properly accomplish. Because of his size and unbelievable wingspan, he is labeled as a great rim protector: players like Mara or Abdellatif still had positive finishes over him, as Badji still lacks strength and still doesn’t box out enough. On pick-and-roll situations, he is not a great screener (something Diop is better at in my opinion) and sometimes lacks conditioning. For the moment, I only see him as a five star rim protector, and I don’t know if that’s enough to crack the lottery in 2021.” (Niko)


Honorable mentions:

Pape Sow (Senegal): Guard/Forward (2003)

Statistics: 7.2pts / 5rbs / 3.6asts / 1.6stls / 5.4TO // 17% from the field (10/57), 12% from three (3/25) and 68% from the Free Throw Line (13/19)

“I didn’t know Sow all that well, but I have to say that he was maybe the player that was forced to play in the worst context in this tournament. Sow was the de facto ball handler for Senegal and was charged to create for others and run sets for his big men: Sow is not that type of player. In Spain, Sow appears as a secondary/tertiary ball handler, as an off-ball slasher. His statistics have to be taken for what it’s worth, and I really look forward to see him in a better team context with Baskonia.” (Alan)

“We could not create a worst context to showcase Pape Sow’s talent. Even if he is playing the 3 in Spain, he had to play point guard during the tournament. With Baskonia, coaches expect him to play off ball, hit catch-and-shoot and finish in transition: with his national team, he had to provide for everyone. To sum up, because of team context, he was asked to do things he is not able to do. Scouts or people who never saw him play before were for sure down on him, but Sow is still a good prospect with size and abilities on catch-and-shoot situations. He was maybe not enough tough on the ball and showed rush with the ball in his hands, which lead to many turnovers. I look forward to see him play his natural position. Defensively, Sow took advantage of his size, his length and his off ball activity, but I doubt he will be able to switch on bigger players in the future.” (Niko)


Youba Konaté (Mali): Forward (2002)

Statistics: 14.8pts / 5rbs / 1.8asts / 1.5stls / 3TO // 44% from the field (20/45), 35% from three (6/17) and 72% from the Free Throw Line (13/18)

“Konaté is the surprise of the tournament. In a starless Mali roster, Konaté was able to separate himself from his peers, especially because of his shot-making display during both the semifinal and the final. He showed versatility on offense, as he was able to shoot from deep but also play in the post. He showed energy on both sides of the ball. He is still playing in Mali and is waiting for offers from Europe or America.” (Niko)

“Mali was able to win it all without any first class prospects. Oumar Ballo (Gonzaga) and Adama Sanogo (UConn) were busy playing in the States. But the team was coherent and consistent, as Youba Konaté was according to me their most interesting prospect. A good shooter for his size, Konaté also showed good touch and versatility on defense.” (Alan)

Others: Pierre Sene (Senegal), Mohamed Keita (Guinea), Ibrahima Diallo (Guinea), Modibo Diaby (Mali), Bourama Coulibaly (Mali)