First Take: The Best Young Player Award
MIES (Switzerland) - Captivating and compelling. Dazzling and daring. We've just crossed the midway mark of the Regular Season, so now we can finally take a first look at them - the most powerful performances by our early candidates for the 2024 Basketball Champions League's Best Young Player award.
TIDJANE SALAUN (DoB: August 10, 2005) - Cholet Basket
"C'est magnifique!" - Le Courrier de Cholet
"The boy is a STAR!" - The Global Times
Plot Summary: Tidjane Salaun delivers a season performance as spectacular and energetic as it is packed with personality and panache. One does not simply walk into San Cristobal de La Laguna, and yet that is what
Salaun did with a rousing opening scene performance, scoring 15 points in Tenerife's homecourt. Such a performance coupled with eye-catching displays in the Qualifying Rounds caused many a reviewer to take note.
Salaun has the length and versatility to be whoever he wants to be in this sport. The early signs are more than just promising, there is delivery as well.
This guy is no tease. He contributes on both ends, can finish inside, above the rim, and from outside l'arc. Yet he also gets an equal amount of joy from unselfish plays dishing to his teammates. He may only be a part of the supporting cast at this stage, but Salaun has already stolen the show with his performances for Cholet.
Cast: Tidjane Salaun as himself, Coach Laurent Vila as The Playcaller, and Gerald Ayayi as The Older Brother.
Box Office: 9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 56.2 percent from 2-pts, and 38.5 percent from deep.
DAVID MUTAF (DoB: June 14, 2002) - Bursaspor Info Yatirim
"His trajectory will take him all the way up" - Turkiye Telegraph
"Captivating potential" - The Daily Bursa
Plot Summary: David Mutaf's performance is that of a shooter with exquisite accuracy. He really hits the mark and as we saw with his 19 points at Bonn, he can couple that accuracy with theatrical timing.
Bursaspor finally picked up their first win of the season against Telekom Baskets Bonn on Gameday 4 and Mutaf was integral to the result. It's not too late for Mutaf's delivery to help them recover from a slow start.
With daggers from deep in transition, pick-and-rolls knifing to the basket, and precision pull-ups, David Mutaf has the cutting edge to score box office hits in a variety of roles.
It's his ability in transition where he perhaps catches the eye most. Mutaf will play the passing lanes on defense, read his audience, steal the show, and then deliver the punchline on the break.
Cast: David Mutaf as himself, Anthony Brown as The Swingman, and Bursaspor Info Yatirim as The Team.
Box office: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 50 percent from three (4.7 attempts).
LEN SCHOORMANN (DoB: June 25, 2002) - EWE Baskets Oldenburg
"Schoormann is the future." - The Oldenburg Observer
"Elite athleticism meets defensive instinct." - The Daily Deutschland
Plot Summary: Season 4 of EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the BCL is a drama that is yet to unfold in a positive light, yet with Len Schoorman cast as one of the bright spots to emerge thus far, there is still time to delay the curtain falling on Pedro Calles' crew.
Schoormann has the feel of a veteran protagonist we have been watching on our screens for many years, but his boundless energy betrays his youth.
This youngster has craft and guile with his work off the ball on both ends of the floor. His reading of passing lanes to snatch steals and his deceptive backdoor cuts make his portrayal of the perfect role-player authentic and believable.
Yet the audience is still left with the underlying feeling that Schoormann has more to give. His reliable shooting and floor-spacing, combined with the ability to slash, drive, and make plays for his teammates could soon see him promoted to supporting actor or even the leading man.
Cast: Len Schoormann as himself, Pedro Calles as The Instigator, Filou Oostende as The Bad Guys.
Box Office: 8.3 points, 1.3 steals, and 40 percent from behind the arc.
JUAN FERNANDEZ (DoB: November 21, 2002) - Rio Breogan
"Don't cry for me Argentina, Fernandez is sublime" - The Lugo Ledger
"As slick as he is underrated" - Argentina Advocate
Plot Summary: Fernandez's performance in Breogan's second win of the season could be the bounce-back delivery of the season.
After a testimonial two-minute appearance in the first game against Holon, critics were stunned as Fernandez dazzled with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists the second time around, setting the stage for rapturous applause from the home audience as Breogan also claimed the head-to-head over the Israeli team.
Juan Francisco Fernandez is a name to remember as a future star of the silver screen in Argentina and Europe. With a golden generation retiring from Argentinian basketball, Fernandez has the total package to fill the void.
His action-packed style on both ends of the floor gives him license to operate inside and also stretch the floor in every frame. Glimmers of potential are becoming generous helpings as Fernandez looks to continue scintillating fans with his impact on games. For Fernandez, the future promises to be epic.
Cast: Juan Fernandez as The Hero, Veljko Mrsic as The Conductor, and Rio Breogan as The Underdogs.
Box Office: 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 60 percent from deep.
JOPPE MENNES (DoB: May 20, 2003) - Filou Oostende
"Bouncy and Breathtaking" - The Flanders Times
"Oostende have found another one" - The Belgian Beacon
Plot Summary: Jo Mennes may only be a fledgling presence on the screen for Oostende but his performances have already been compelling and promising. 10 points in a win over Oldenburg demonstrated an exciting new adaptation of the classic Belgian wingman role.
Mennes the Menace causes trouble in every frame. Sharp-witted nouse and instinctive delivery make this young Belgian perhaps the most absorbing ever in a long line emanating from the Oostende talent factory.
Expect high-flying dunks, incisive cuts, and so much more from this young man. We are only just starting to see what he has in his locker. You don't want to miss this.
Cast: Jo Mennes as The Youngun, Dario Gjergja as The Father Figure, and Filou Oostende as The Crew.
Box Office: 5.3 points on 66.7 percent shooting, 72.7 percent from 2-points.