Having picked my six players to watch at the U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup at FIBA, this is a column takeover by Pierre Ploszajski as my esteemed Basketmedia365 colleague dips into the talent pool to pull out another six names.
Take it away Pierre!
Olbis Futo Andre – Italy
The U19 Worlds will only be Futo Andre’s second ever youth tournament off the back of her noticed debut at FIBA U20 tournament in Matosinhos just a week ago. There she finished top rebounder of the competition and helped Italy make the Quarter-Finals to eventually finish sixth. She will now get the chance to expose herself even more and confront her skills at the world level. Her two club seasons with Battipaglia in Italy’s top tier Seria A1 (14 minutes, 3.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game) means she must play a big role with the composure she already shows. She is very solid, but also demonstrates a good mobility. A real rebounding machine, a dissuasive defender, she possesses a very determined attitude on the court and will fight till the very last second of each game. Developing a wider shooting range would make her a difficult match-up for anybody.
Alyssa Jerome – Canada
There is much excitement and a buzz surrounding Team Canada of late – very rightly so given the combination of quality players emerging and the ambitious program the Federation came up with. And Team Canada is very excited by their forward prospect. So much so, that they already got her involved with the senior National Team earlier in the spring. She was invited to attend camps and to take part in Canada’s European friendly-games tour. She didn’t see the court much, but at this age, this kind of experience in invaluable. It’s amazing, taking into account that Jerome just started playing basketball four years ago! After only her 2nd year, she was already named to the All-Tournament team at FIBA Americas U16 where Canada won an historic first gold medal two years ago. She kept on impressing at U18 level last year and the Stanford recruit will now enjoy her 2nd world level experience after the FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship last year as well. Canada will only benefit from her versatility, height and scoring ability.
Raisa Musina – Russia
Coming off the back of a first ever EuroBasket Women experience with the Russian senior national team, Musina will now feature for a second time at the FIBA U19 Worlds. Two years ago, Russia lost in a nail-bitter during the gold medal game on home soil against Team USA. Musina was 0.3rbds short to conclude the event with a tournament double-double – a feat she managed to achieve in the last 3 youth tournaments she took part in! Not least, last year at the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship where she managed 18 points and 15.5 rebounds per game! To add to her senior NT experience, she has also completed her first full EuroLeague Women season at club level in Poland where she enjoyed decent court time, helping her get experience faster. Throughout her international youth career, she has never ceased to impress, so this tournament should only verify this trend. She is a big part of Russia’s bright future and EuroLeague Women juggernaut UMMC Ekaterinburg know it all too well, as her recent acquisition demonstrates. A great rebounder, with excellent fundamentals and a natural feel for the game, Musina is a world class player in the making – and ready to be counted for in Udine.
Megan Walker – USA
Megan Walker arrives to the tournament as USA’s class of 2017 top recruit, joining the nation’s #1 program, UConn, this fall. She is the recipient of the Gatorade National Player of the Year for 2016-2017, no need to say there is as much buzz around her as there are high expectations. The comparisons with Maya Moore will probably never be far in the talk when her game is analyzed, but she is here to make a name for herself. She has tremendous skills, can play at 4 positions on the court, she is a fearless scorer and can do it in numerous ways. Her athleticism and offensive power were to be seen at last year’s FIBA U18 3×3 Worlds where she excelled. She is a star in the making and she has now the opportunity to shine in Udine.
Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi – France
It’s back-to-back FIBA tournaments for Djaldi-Tabdi, who just returns from the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship in Portugal where she showed quality and had people take notice.She finished the tournament with a fine double-double average of 12 points and 12 boards per game which helped her country into the Semi-Finals. The Syracuse recruit will take part in her 2nd world tournament having previously played at the FIBA U17 Women’s World Championship. A pure product of the French Centre Federal system, she has already played a full LFB and EuroCup Women season with a strong and successful Flammes Carolo team (where she played alongside Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis among others). She is in great shape, very athletic and arrives full of confidence in Udine. She can impact offensively both inside and outside, she shows an interesting versatility, has a natural feel for rebounding and her body frame makes her hard to pass in defense.
Tima Pouye – France
Another pure product of the French Centre Federal system, she is a promising point guard who will also feature at FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship later in the summer, a competition she won last year. She has good height, shows nerves and learned how to be a floor general the French way – meaning the solid and disciplined way. She lacks range from beyond the line so far, but her quickness and tonicity make up for it. She was voted ‘Young Player of the Year in LF2’, France’s second division at the end of this season, where she averaged 13 points, 3.6 boards and 2.6 assists in over 29min. After her summer of youth competition, she will join ambitious and former French powerhouse / Ronchetti Cup (EuroCupWomen) winners Tarbes Gespe Bigorre, where she will be coached by François Gomez, Sweden NT’s newly appointed head coach.