2019 fiba under 19 world cup top prospects

guards

Cade Cunningham - USA - 6'7" - Point Guard 

Easily the most impressive guard in Greece. While his numbers don't jump out at you at first glance, Cunningham has been dominant in the 84 minutes he's played through the first 4 games. 

Cunningham came into the tournament freshly anointed as the #2 player in his class and has lived up to the billing with his playmaking. At 6'7" he's a matchup nightmare for smaller guards due to his size and strength, and has the ball handling and offensive creativity to attack bigs on switches. Cunningham is most dangerous in "grab & go" situations where he's a threat to turn a rebound into a fast break opportunity for himself or for others. 

So far the only flaw in Cunningham's game is his shooting as he is only 1-7 from 3 after 4 games.

Arturs Kurucs - Latvia - 6'3" - Combo Guard

Kurucs, the younger brother of Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs, has been one better point guards I've seen in this tournament despite struggling with his shooting. Latvia as a team was smacked around by opponents with 3 of their first 4 losses by over 10 points capped off by a 106-66 loss to Team USA in the round of 16. 

Kurucs was the lone bright spot for his team and showcased good court vision and a strong feel for the game with his passing. While there's a debate on if his long term position is at the 1 or the 2, Kurucs displayed an ability to score and make plays for others. I like him as an NBA prospect down the road due to his defined role as a sharp shooting playmaker. He has a toughness and competitive fire to his game and did a good job or rebounding on the glass.

There are some concerns as he averaged more turnovers than assists, and was overwhelmed  vs the athleticism of the USA squad. 

Karim Mane - Canada - 6'4" Point Guard

Karim Mane reminds me a lot of Terry Rozier with his competitive toughness, confidence, size and shot making ability. While he has not been very efficient from the field, he's shown that he's a prospect to keep an eye on. 

Mane is an excellent rebounder, capable shooter and can make plays for others. He's a threat to attack the rim (his dunk vs Senegal might go down as the play of the tournament) or pull up from deep if the defense goes under the screen.

I'd like to see him improve his efficiency, especially from the free throw line where he's only 7-17 through 4 games.

Wings

Nikita Mikhailovskii - Russia - 6'7" - Forward 

After an 0-10 game to open the tournament, Mikhailovskii followed up with 3 strong performances where he displayed the versatility that scouts love, especially in his  20 point, 13 rebound, 12 assist game vs Greece. Over the next 3 games he averaged 16.6 points  8.3 rebounds and  6.3 assists per game in wins over Greece, Philippines and China. 

Mikhailovskii is a good athlete with a deceptively quick first step that allows him to get to the rim on drives to the basket. He's also a pretty good passer and is very effective in grab & go situations. 

He has the potential be to an NBA player due to his skill set and the fact the he plays hard and with an edge.

A.J Lawson - Canada - 6'6" - Shooting Guard

A.J Lawson had a solid freshman season at South Carolina and has followed it up with strong play here in Heraklion. I see a lot of similarities Terence Ferguson in Lawson. Both are slim, athletic shooters with long wingspans. 

Lawson's role on the next level will depend on how well he can space the floor for others and so far this tournament he's done a very good job of knocking down open looks. Through 4 games he's 15-32 (46.9%) from 3 but also making plays in transition and getting to the free throw line..

BIGS

Biram Faye - Senegal - 6'9" - Center

One of the more intriguing prospects in Crete was Biram Faye from Senegal. This was my first time seeing him live and I left impressed with his upside and potential. The Senegal squad is talented and rich in potential but they all have overlapping skill sets and in my opinion Faye was the most polished of the prospects.

While still raw offensively, he shows flashes of being able to make plays off the dribble in the half court and in transition. A play that stood out to me was a play vs Canada where he grabbed a rebound, went coast to coast and finished with a thunderous 2 hand slam.

He's also made 6 (6/20) three pointers through 4 games and is shooting a respectable 78.6 (11-14) from the free throw line. Oddly enough he's attempted more 3's than free throws so far.

Faye is a little undersized to be traditional center, but if he can continue to build on his skillset he could be a 1st round pick in the near future..