For those who love spectacular ball movement, skilled 7-footers, and pasta, Reebok’s Eurocamp 2008 is heaven on Earth. We arrived here in Treviso, Italy on Saturday for five days of checking out the next generation of NBA imports as they’re guided by some of the best basketball minds in America – former St. John’s, Manhattan and New Mexico coach Fran Fraschilla, the great Jack Sikma, Mavs’ GM Donnie Nelson, the T-Wolves Pete Philo, Raptors’ Jay Triano, coach of the ’07 Eurobasket Champion Russian team David Blatt, and perhaps the greatest high school coach of all-time, St. Anthony’s Bob Hurley.
Day one at the Reebok Eurocamp was a real treat – the overall level of play was outstanding. But even in the Benetton Treviso gym in a who’s-who of international basketball, it was hard to take your eyes off of Serge Ibaka. The European hoops guru Fran Fraschilla said of the 18-year old Congo-native, “If he were in high school in the U.S., he’d be the No. 1 prospect in the country.”
Within the first few minutes of the game, Ibaka shot off the floor for a rebound a foot-and-a-half above the rim. The next time down the floor, he spiked a shot in the lane. And as he trailed on a fast break, he sprung up and over two guys hunting a defensive board to tip-dunk a miss that brought some scouts out of their seats.
After playing a 40-minute (running clock) game, Italian strength & conditioning mastermind Francesco Cuzzolini ran the players through basic metrics to get sprint times, shuttle times and a measurement for their vertical on this thing. Get this rumor we heard about Ibaka – he hit his wrist on the top tab. They couldn’t get an exact number on him, but his vert has got to be somewhere in the 40’s.
But Ibaka isn’t just athletic. In game action, he knocked down both jumpers he took. And in drills, his J was water.
He’s already been to the U.S. for individual workouts with a few different NBA squads (there’s a rumor that he showed up at the Venice airport in Celtics’ gear). It’s totally conceivable that he’s going to shoot up the draft board when pro scouts see these tools in person within the next couple of weeks.