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Euroleague's Best U-21 Players of 13-14

With less than a month remaining until the Euroleague Final Four in Milan, RealGM presents a list of ten young (21-year-old or younger) Euroleague players that had the most success in 13-14 season.

FC Barcelona’s Alejandro Abrines is the only young Euroleague player, who got already drafted, while some of the other players are projected to hear their name in future NBA Drafts.

- All records and stats through Game 14 of Top-16. 

Alejandro Abrines (FC Barcelona, Spain) - 2013 Round 2 Pick 2

Best performance: 19 points and 3 rebounds in 25 minutes against Partizan.

Averaged 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds in 17 minutes.

For Alejandro Abrines, who was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 32nd pick in the previous NBA draft, it was the third Euroleague season of his career and the most successful one. One of the most promising young Spanish talents became an important part of winning FC Barcelona team, who spent more than 400 minutes on the court this Euroleague season. Abrines, who collected 28 performance index rating (PIR) points in a single last season game, did not come any close to this result in 13-14. However, the 20-year-old swingman was more consistent and scored more than 12 points five times already this season.

Arturas Gudaitis (Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuania) - 2015 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 14 points (4/4 FG) and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes against Lokomotiv Kuban.

Averaged 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds in 10 minutes.

Arturas Gudaitis spent most of the season doing rehab after having knee surgery last May and played in only seven Euroleague games. Nevertheless, that was enough for Gudaitis to be noticed. Gudaitis demonstrated two out of three best performances among all ten ranked players. In only eight game as a professional basketball player, Gudaitis made it to the Zalgiris starting five against Lokomotiv Kuban and scored 14 points and grabbed six boards. In that game, Gudaitis surprised Euroleague fans by collecting 22 PIR points, while two weeks later the big man also finished a game with 21 PIR points. 

Daniel Diez (Real Madrid, Spain) - 2015 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 8 points and 3 assists in 18 minutes against Lokomotiv Kuban.

Averaged 2.3 points, 0.9 rebounds in 9 minutes.

Real Madrid is currently the most dominant team in Europe, but at the same the Spaniards find time to develop players who might lead the team in the future. Daniel Diez, a product of Real Madrid youth program, had a chance to be a member of one of the most powerful Euroleague teams ever and gain experience from the best. As it has been the case this season, Real usually built an early lead and that allowed head coach Pablo Laso give more opportunities for Diez, who spent 165 minutes on the court this season. Diez has already proved he might be a future player of Real, for instance leading European U-20 Championship in scoring with 18.7 points per game. No doubt, next season with some of the players leaving Madrid Diez should become a more important figure in Madrid.

Domantas Sabonis (Unicaja Malaga, Spain) - 2018 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 7 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes against Panathinaikos.

Averaged 2.7 points, 2 rebounds in 9 minutes.

Domantas Sabonis, a son of legendary basketball player Arvydas Sabonis, was only 17 years and 168 days old when he scored his first points in Euroleague tournament. Despite his young age, Sabonis played in 19 games this Euroleague season and got a unique chance to spend 176 minutes on the court. However, Sabonis is not planning to stay in Europe for any longer as his dad confirmed his son’s plans to move to the States and join Gonzaga in 14-15. Recently head coach of Lithuanian national Jonas Kazlauskas revealed his affection for Sabonis’ game, which means that in next few years Lithuania might have another Sabonis in its squad.

Ioannis Papapetrou (Olympiakos Piraeus, Greece) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 13 points (5/5 FG) and 2 rebounds in 17 minutes against Laboral Kutxa.

Averaged 4.9 points, 1.5 rebounds in 11 minutes.

After having a solid career with the Texas Longhorns, where he averaged 8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds, Ioannis Papapetrou decided to sign a five-year deal with current Euroleague champion Olympiakos. As expected, Papapetrou didn't get many chances to show his abilities and skill set in Euroleague, but Papapetrou was able to make his name heard in week 11 game against Laboral Kutxa, when the forward scored 13 points without missing a single shot.

Kenan Sipahi (Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, Turkey) - 2017 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 10 points, 2 assists and 2 steals in 21 minutes against Partizan.

Averaged 2.7 points, 1,1 assists in 13 minutes.

At the beginning of the season, it seemed that Fenerbahce Ulker was too loaded and too deep to give any significant playing time for 18-year-old talent Kenan Sipahi. But not everything went according to the plan for Fenerbahce Ulker and that provided the 6-foot-6 point guard plenty of chances to taste Euroleague basketball. Sipahi, one of the youngest Euroleague players in 13-14, averaged more than 16 minutes a game in regular season and more impressively, started in eight of his 15 games played. 

Luka Mitrovic (Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, Serbia) - 2015 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 8 points and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes against Laboral Kutxa.

Averaged 3.6 points, 4 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Despite appearing in only seven Euroleague games this season, his efficiency in almost 100 minutes proved his worthiness to be among Top 10 young players of this season. Before suffering a knee injury, Mitrovic had become a starting forward for the Crvena Zvezda. Mitrovic collected more than 11 PIR points in three of his last four Euroleague games and considering his young age, turned the ball over only twice in more than 50 minutes of action in that time.

Mam Jaiteh (JSF Nanterre, France) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 14 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes against Budivelnik.

Averaged 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds in 13 minutes.

After a solid performance in the European U-20 Championship, where Mouhammadou Jaiteh averaged 12 points and 7.8 rebounds, the French big man received a chance to demonstrate his talent in the top European league. Despite JSF Nanterre’s Euroleague season was quite short, more or less Jaiteh appeared in all ten regular season games as he also was the only player from this ranking that managed to finish a game with a double-double. In week 8 match against Budivelnik Jaiteh scored 14 points and collected 11 boards, finishing the game with 22 PIR points.

Nikola Milutinov (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 10 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes against Zalgiris.

Averaged 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds in 20 minutes.

Partizan Belgrade as usual was the youngest Euroleague team in the tournament, which reserved its starting center spot for 19-year-old Nikola Milutinov. The Serbian big man, who is projected as an early second round pick in 2015 NBA Draft, too often got into foul trouble and usually was overshadowed by his teammate Joffrey Lauvergne. However, considering Milutinov will begin his third Euroleague season being only 19-year-old, he still got plenty of time to strengthen his weak frame and learn how to avoid getting into foul trouble.

Tomas Dimsa (Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuania) - 2016 NBA Draft Eligible

Best performance: 12 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes against Partizan.

Averaged 3.7 points, 1.6 rebounds in 15 minutes.

Tomas Dimsa grabbed Euroleague fans attention when former Zalgiris coach put 19-year-old athletic guard in the starting lineup in season opener against Real Madrid. Dimsa had to guard Rudy Fernandez, who scored 11 points, while the youngster collected six points in almost 24 minutes. However, in other 14 games Dimsa never played as much as in the first one and never took more than seven shot attempts. If next season Dimsa receives more playing time and if he learns how to better use his athletic abilities, Zalgiris’ talent might double his statistical figures in 14-15.

Honorable Mentions: Mihajilo Andric, Boris Dallo, Partizan; Devon Van Oostrum, Ilimane Diop, Laboral Kutxa; Paul Zipser, Bayern; Mario Hezonja, FC Barcelona; Cedi Osman, Anadolu Efes.

Euroleague Interview: Justin Dentmon Of Zalgiris

Before the start of 13-14 season, Zalgiris had a limited budget to find a guard who could do it all - score, pass and guide the club in Euroleague. Zalgiris chose Justin Dentmon to lead the team to the Euroleague Top 16 stage and after few months it was obvious that the 28-year-old guard was a perfect fit for the extreme situation with Kaunas.

Dentmon didn’t blossom into an elite Euroleague point guard until a coaching change happened and Saulius Stombergas replaced Ilias Zouros. After that, Dentmon received a green light and complete freedom, which helped him become one of the best scorers in the league. Dentmon currently ranks second in scoring in Euroleague with 16.5 points per game, as he also averages 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

RealGM caught up with Dentmon in Panevezys, Lithuania during the Lithuanian cup Final Four event to talk about the current crisis in Zalgiris, his personal game, life in Kaunas and more. 

RealGM: First of all, what goes through your mind when you think about the seven months you spent in Lithuania?

Dentmon: With the first coach, he really tried to control me. I didn’t play well at that time and I almost left. Then coaching changes happened and the rhythm was good, but now we’re going downhill fast and I don’t know why. I’m out of the rhythm and to be honest, I have no idea what’s going on. But the beginning was rough and then it got better. It’s been a good seven months, but now we’re going downhill fast.

RealGM: Were you surprised about the coaching changes and Ilias Zouros' departure, which happened early this season? The main reason of was not giving enough playing time for young players.

Dentmon: If you want to win Euroleague games, you need play your veterans and guys with experience, talent that can play. And in the Lithuanian championship (LKL), you can use your young guys so they could prove they can play. I think that’s what he was doing here. There were misunderstandings and the team was losing. It’s a business and Zalgiris had to make a business move.

RealGM: The level of players on Zalgiris this season is very diverse. Some of the players are national team caliber guys, while some of them struggle to play in the LKL. How difficult for you is it to compete with others when some of your teammates are far away from their opponents in terms of talent?

Dentmon: It is very difficult and it is very different from the United States. The mentality is different and sometimes it’s difficult to explain. If you’re a professional athlete, you have to know how to motivate yourself and nobody should tell you about that. And it seems that sometimes we need to motivate our guys, which shouldn’t be a case. The excuse is always that they are young. When I was young, I had stuff to prove, to be better than the next person. I think that’s how young guys should take it; they should want to prove that they are better than other guys. Guys on other teams are looking at our guys like 'we can be better than you'. I think they should take it as a challenge and they should take it seriously.

RealGM: The situation in Zalgiris gave you lots of opportunities as well. Do you think Kaunas was a great place to showcase yourself?

Dentmon: All my hard work paid off, but I want to finish strong. Being the only American on a Euroleague Top 16 team, it feels like I’m doing too much work. I think it should be easier if you have a guard like me, you would want to make things easier for me. In other teams, they make it easier for their scorers. We struggle with our roles; we don’t know who plays what role. I’m trying to do the best I can, showcase myself and I also want to win the Lithuanian championship.

RealGM: Very often you seem to be frustrated with the calls you get or you would like to get from the referees. Does that cause any trouble for you to keep your focus on the game?

Dentmon: Mentally, it’s very difficult. Especially, when they see that and they don’t saying anything. They say that I’m a rookie, but that doesn’t mean anything. If you see a charge, call a foul. That’s really frustrating, when refs see it and they say nothing. When other defender feels that he can grab me, he does it. It’s not like I'm out my game, but I think 'what can I do? There’s nothing I can do about it'. They throw me off my rhythm in offence. Some of responsibility is on me, but most of it is on coaches because they have to figure out different strategy. We need to find stuff that would help us.

RealGM: You’re one of few players in Europe who whenever get fouled, always try to take a shot and get to the free throw line. It doesn’t matter is it inside the key or it’s the half court. Where did you learn that?

Dentmon: I always do that! I got that from Chris Paul. We have the Hack-a-Shaq thing in the U.S., so whenever somebody tries to foul Chris Paul, he takes a shot. So I’m always thinking, if they are going to foul me, I will shoot and get three free throw shots. Like I said, I got it from Chris Paul. Someday, they will give me a call and they will award me with three free throw shots. They don’t call it enough and they don’t want to give it to me yet, but I will keep doing it.

RealGM: Talking about your life in Kaunas, I heard that at first you had a hard time adapting there. With the time, did it get any better?

Dentmon: It was very tough. Now it got much better, I have my man Mindaugas (who works for Zalgiris). I know places where I can eat, so it is much easier. Going to shopping mall and playing video games on Xbox keeps my mind off basketball. Overall, now living in Kaunas is much easier for me.

Euroleague Interview: Malcolm Delaney Of Bayern Munich

Despite being only 24 years old, Malcolm Delaney of Bayern Munich quickly became one of the leading scorers in Euroleague in his debut season. Last summer, Delaney joined Bayern, which is best known for its soccer program, but the guard says that Bayern is serious about becoming an elite Euroleague team as they are in the UEFA Champions League.

Delaney is currently the sixth best scorer in the Euroleague, averaging 14.9 points (44 percent 3FG), 2.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game after Week 3 of Euroleague Top 16. The former Virginia Tech standout posted season-high 22 points twice against both last season’s Euroleague finalists, Real Madrid and Olympiakos Piraeus.

RealGM caught up with Delaney in Europe to talk about Bayern’s performance in the Euroleague, team’s affiliation with the soccer program, his future plans and much more.

RealGM: Bayern started the second round with a huge away win in Kaunas and are off to a good start in Top 16.

Delaney: That was a huge win for us. We went on a streak last round, we lost many games and we finished on a good win. At that time we didn’t play well in the German basketball league. We practiced really hard and coming out of win like that was huge for us. When we take teams out of what they are comfortable doing, it becomes tough for them.

RealGM: Talking about the regular season, Bayern had a strong 3-1 start and then lost five games in a row. How did that happen?

Delaney: It’s our first year in Euroleague. At first we won 13 out of 14 German basketball league games. The first round was tough. We lost to Olympiakos in a game that I thought we should have won. Also, we led Stelmet Zielona Gora at halftime and we just didn’t play well in the second half. We weren’t playing our best basketball at that time, but we showed that we can play with everybody. In the second game against Olympiakos, we had a lead, we played the toughest we could and then they won the game in the last nine seconds. But that was last year, now we’re on a fresh start. We have many good teams and couple great teams in this stage, therefore hopefully we could sneak in and get some wins. We’re pretty comfortable.

RealGM: Before moving to Germany, you’ve played in France and Ukraine in your first years in Europe. Could you compare the places that you’ve live?

Delaney: France and Germany are similar. The style of play is pretty similar as well. The economy and financial situation is the same. People don’t have to worry about the bad part of the business. It’s pretty equal, while Ukraine is pretty tough. Traveling, long bus rides. But I was on a good team, we played in Eurocup and I lived in Kyiv. I have no complaints.

RealGM: This year you’re a part of massive sports organization. Do you feel that Bayern Munich is much bigger than only a basketball team?

Delaney: For me, this is my first year really being a part of something like this. Before that, I heard the name, but I didn’t know how big the name was until I came here. Football (soccer) players showed us support and we have a family atmosphere here. Everybody in Bayern is so close. We play well because of that. In some organizations, people don’t talk to you and they are strictly about winning or losing games. Here is more than that; it’s not only about winning or losing. They make sure we take care and we are healthy and everything possibly to help us play the best that we can.

RealGM: Before moving to Germany, did you know anything about soccer?

Delaney: In the last couple years I was in the cities where soccer was not too big, while this year I watched about four games. I still don’t really understand it. But it’s fun, especially when you know how big it is. And even when we play on the road, fans hate us because our soccer team is really good. But we’re working to get our name up there. 

RealGM: Do you think that Bayern is serious about Euroleague and they could stay there for years?

Delaney: After they got invited to Euroleague, and we’ve been talking about it, they seem to be very dedicated to basketball. It’s their third year in the German top division. I think it’s going to take two or three years to develop and get those type of big players. Of course, if we can stick together and play well together because we like each other. I think in a couple of years we could be one of those high-level Euroleague teams.

RealGM: Do you see yourself staying in Germany in the future?

Delaney: It’s all about how comfortable I am and right now I feel very comfortable with the guys, coach, great general manager. Like I said, they take care of us. I haven’t been thinking about it, I was more focusing on the games, but I’m sure in a near future we will be talking about that kind of stuff. If everything is right and set in places, I would love to stay because it’s great here.

Europe Interview: Luke Harangody Of Unics Kazan

RealGM caught up with Luke Harangody to talk about his experience in Russia, playing under foreigner coach, NBA and more.

Euroleague Power Rankings (Mid-December Edition)

With less than two weeks remaining until the end of its regular season, RealGM presents the Euroleague Power Rankings. We evaluated and ranked all 24 teams' performance over their first eight games and their perspective for the next rounds.

Euroleague Interview: Alexis Ajinca Of Strasbourg IG

RealGM spoke with Alexis Ajinca to talk about the restart of his career, his plans to get back to the NBA, France's national team and much more.

Euroleague Power Rankings For Mid-November

Fenerbahce Ulker, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Anadolu Efes and CSKA are at the top of RealGM's Euroleague rankings.

Euroleague Power Rankings (End Of October Edition)

While Real Madrid, Fenerbahce Ulker, CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos are at the top of the table and our rankings, Alexis Ajinca has been playing like an MVP candidate.

10 Most Disappointing Performances Of EuroBasket 2013

Jonas Valanciunas, Nikola Vucevic, Hedo Turkoglu and Georgios Printezis were amongst the 10 most disappointing performance of EuroBasket 2013 for a variety of reasons.

Europe Interview: Jeremy Pargo Of CSKA

RealGM caught up with Jeremy Pargo to talk about his time in the NBA, his decision to join CSKA, the upcoming season in Russia and more.

Europe Interview: Petteri Koponen Of Finland

Right before the tip-off of EuroBasket 2013, Petteri Koponen talked with RealGM about Finish basketball, his NBA dream, first season with Khimki and much more.

RealGM Interview: Jan Vesely

RealGM caught up with Jan Vesely to talk about the challenges he faces in the NBA, his transition period, the Czech Republic national team and more.

EuroBasket 2013 Power Rankings

Compared with previous tournaments, EuroBasket 2013 will be a weaker competition in terms of talent, as a lot of stars for various reasons won't suit up for the championship. But the tournament will still have many top players from the NBA and Euroleague.

The Euroleague Elite 50-40-90 Club

Nikola Mirotic, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Trajan Langdon are amongst the Euroleague players that have shot better than 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line.

Americans Winning Titles Abroad, 2013 Edition

In 45 European national leagues, there were 107 players from the United States on their rosters.

Europe Interview: Deon Thompson Of Alba Berlin

RealGM recently caught up with Deon Thompson to discuss his success in Europe, his game improvement and plans to make it to the NBA.

Europe Interview: Mindaugas Kupsas

RealGM interviewed Sabonis-alum Mindaugas Kupsas, the only potential NBA draftee from Lithuania this year, to talk about his development, the upcoming NBA draft, future plans and much more.

Europe Interview: Dirk Bauermann Of Lietuvos Rytas

RealGM sat down with Dirk Bauermann in Vilnius to talk about the changes in his life, time with Lietuvos Rytas, German basketball, Dirk Nowitzki, his new role with Poland national team and much more.

Euroleague Interview: Ettore Messina Of CSKA

RealGM sat down with Ettore Messina in London to talk about what the future holds for CSKA, the Euroleague Final Four format, Viktor Khryapa and things that money can't buy.

Euroleague Interview: President Jordi Bertomeu

RealGM sat down with Euroleague president Jordi Bertomeu to discuss the 2012-13 season, the new format of the competition, its biggest problems and the future of Euroleague.

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