In the latest edition of “P.I.Pulse”, Pro Insight’s Jason Filippi highlights prospects that stood out at the L’Hospitalet Junior Tournament after spending several days on-site in Barcelona, Spain:
Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Barcelona to scout the 44th annual L’Hospitalet Junior Tournament. It is always one of my favorite events to attend on the international scouting circuit. Among the tournament’s most famous alumni are Luka Doncic, Josh Giddey, Jonas Valanciunas, Nikola Mirotic, Alexey Shved, and Rudy Fernandez. Below, I’ve outlined a quick rundown of the best players in this year’s rendition.
Dame Sarr 🇮🇹 | 6-6 Guard | 2006 (Barcelona)
Dame Sarr has continued his development and was arguably the player with the most long-term pro potential in the tournament. He was named to the All-Tournament Team and probably would have been the event MVP had his team won the championship game. Sarr has decent positional size and length and is a good athlete/leaper. At the moment, he is more of just a straight-up scorer, but I expect him to develop into more of a shooter, over time. He can score via the drive and with his jumper. He is notably very streaky from three-point range, currently, but I like how he seems to be able to get shots off with such great ease. Sarr elevates well on his J and has a quick release. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now and is showing better decision making than in pas viewings — he is much more patient and doesn’t force plays/shots like he used to do. He appears to be quite poised for his age and is a capable secondary ball-handler. Sarr doesn’t show much physicality on the defensive end, but he has the tools to become a good perimeter defender once he gets stronger. He is a fast-twitch athlete and with his length, he has the potential to be very disruptive. He offers versatility, too, as he can defend both guard spots. In short, Sarr looks like a legit NBA prospect for the 2025 draft.
Kasparas Jakucionis 🇱🇹 | 6-4 Guard | 2006 (Barcelona)
Kasparas Jakucionis had an excellent tournament and it’s a travesty he wasn’t named to the All-Tournament Team. Although teammate Dame Sarr has the higher upside, he was by far the team’s most consistent and reliable performer. He possesses good size and although he is not an explosive athlete, he is very functionally strong for his age. Jakucionis has shown nice potential as a combo guard for the pro level and is actually playing extensively as the primary ball-handler for his current team. Versatile and assertive, he has a tendency to hold on to the ball too often and can be turnover-prone. He’s an adept pick-and-roll player and is more of a slasher than a shooter at this stage. Jakucionis can get to the rim and can score amidst contact, but will need to prove that he can do the same at higher levels of competition. His three-point shot is currently pretty streaky. He hit a clutch trey in the final seconds of the championship game to give his team the lead before they ultimately lost at the buzzer. On the defensive end, Jakucionis is clearly better against strength than speed as he can defend bigger wings well, but he may struggle to defend smaller, quicker ball-handlers. He is a polished, mature prospect with a very Euro-style game.
Arturas Butajevas 🇱🇹 | 6-9 Forward | 2007 (Barcelona)
Arturas Butajevas is a very improved player. I already liked him a lot last summer at the Euro U16 Championships, but his game is evolving at an impressive rate. In the past he played mostly as a center, but he appears to be transitioning more to the 4-spot now and shows nice potential as a stretch big man for both the college and pro levels. He has average size/length but appears to have grown an inch and looks much stronger than he did last year. Despite not being an explosive athlete, Butajevas is quite mobile and is quicker off his feet than one may assume. He has a good feel for the game, as well. He can face up, put the ball on the deck and function out of the high post, too. He has expanded his shooting range out to the international three-point line. He has a slow release on shot, though, which is something he will have to work on moving forward. Butajevas is a plus-rebounder on both sides of the court. On the defensive end, he’s shown the ability to defend both the 4 and 5 spots. Based on his current trajectory, he should be a high priority guy to scout for college teams.
Hugo Gonzalez 🇪🇸 | 6-6 Wing | 2006 (Real Madrid)
Same old, same old with this guy. Another tournament, another championship trophy and another MVP award. Hugo Gonzalez simply continues to dominate the youth level and although he may not have huge upside, there is no doubt he is going to find a way to be a contributor at any level he plays. Gonzalez plays with a lot of confidence — a true alpha dog. He possesses pretty average size on the wing, but he is a very strong plus-athlete and a versatile player with great ball-skills. He is a one-on-one threat who can get to the rim and can score through contact. Gonzalez gets to the free throw stripe often and does a great job at creating and taking advantage of favorable mismatches. He likes to post up smaller wings. His three-point shot is very inconsistent and it’s an area he will have to improve if he wants to take his game to the highest level. He can create for others, too, and often acts as a facilitator. He’s tough, intense and plays with a great motor. He plays bigger than his listed height on the defensive end and doesn’t mind getting physical. All in all, Gonzalez is a polished, mature player.
Egor Demin 🇷🇺 | 6-8 Guard | 2006 (Real Madrid)
Egor Demin is a definite a rising star at the international youth level. He seems to play better every time I see him. He brings great positional size and solid athletic tools to the perimeter. Demin is a big ball-handling wing who currently plays mostly as a point guard. He’s a skilled, unselfish passer who’s willing to find the open man. A versatile player who can play positions 1-2-3, Denim is a good slasher, who uses a nice combination of strength, fakes and change of speed/direction to get to the rim. His shot is currently very streaky from range, but it has substantially improved over the past two years. In Barcelona, he did an adequate job of defending smaller guards, but he will need to prove that he can do the same at higher levels of competition. He reminds me a lot of Nick Calathes but he could also become a Josh Giddey-type player. Teammates Hugo Gonzalez and Ismaila Diagne may be getting most of the headlines now, but in my opinion, Egor Demin is the prospect from Real Madrid’s loaded roster who may have the most longterm NBA potential.
Karim Lopez 🇲🇽 | 6-8 Forward | 2007 (Joventut Badalona)
Karim Lopez was one of the most improved players in this tournament! I wasn’t that impressed with him last year at this same event, but he has shown major improvements in his game. He has really improved his three-point shot in particular and shows some interesting potential as a (small-ball) stretch-4. His shot mechanics are much more fluid now and his stroke is smoother, overall. In addition to that, he is also looking so much more confident in himself (perhaps even a bit cocky). He has also improved at putting the ball on the deck to score one-on-one and does a nice job at taking advantage of favorable mismatches against bigger, slower opponents. Lopez is a good open court player who can handle the ball in transition. He has just average positional size and will definitely need to get stronger in his upper body, but he has plus-length and is a decent vertical athlete who is quick off his feet. His stock is rising and he is starting to establish himself as one of the top international prospects within his age group. Lopez is a high priority prospect to scout moving forward for both college and pro teams.
Andrej Kostic 🇷🇸 | 6-6 Guard | 2006 (Red Star Belgrade)
Andrej Kostic was one of the few guys to stand out from an otherwise disappointing Serbian team. He impressed me more with his scoring than his playmaking, but he looks more than capable to be at least a secondary (if not primary) ball-handler at the pro level. He boasts good size in the backcourt and is a pretty good athlete, too. Kostic is a shifty, effective slasher who can get to the rim and draw fouls. He’s a crafty finisher, as well. He can score both via the drive or with his jumper, though his range shooting is erratic at this stage. He has a good pull-up jumper – elevating well and able to get off contested shots. Kostic makes plays for others in pick-and-roll situations but typically looks for his own shot, first. He can tend to force plays and be a little selfish, at times. He’s very good in transition, comfortable going the length of the court to score it. He is capable of defending both guard spots at this level but will likely struggle to defend smaller, quicker ball-handlers at the pro level. His game may be better-suited for Europe than the NBA, but I think he would excel at the college level in any case.
Brayden Jackson 🇨🇦 | 6-9 Forward | 2006 (Fort Erie International Academy)
Brayden Jackson was a bit up-and-down throughout the event, but I thought he was one of the highest-upside prospects in this tournament. He’s a versatile combo forward with a projectable physical profile. He has good size and length with a wiry build and is a good athlete, too. He’s an effective slasher who can create off the dribble, but needs to improve his decision making as he can force plays. His three-point shot is very unreliable at this time. He doesn’t show much of a pull-up game and is definitely more of a spot-up shooter from distance. He is a very good open court player and an athletic finisher in transition. He shows nice defensive versatility and can defend both bigger and smaller players, guarding up and down a lineup, using his length well and deflecting a lot of passes. He can help pressure the ball, as well. Jackson is an underrated prospect in my opinion who still has considerable realistic margin for improvement.
Paul Ater Maker Bol 🇸🇸 | 6-8 Forward | 2007 (Manresa)
Maker Bol was actually somewhat of a disappointment at this event but of all the prospects I evaluated in Barcelona, he was still one of the players with the most upside. He has a long but skinny body and a very thin build. He is mobile, but lacks explosiveness. Really struggled with his shot throughout the event. He moves well, but doesn’t finish well. He’s a versatile hybrid forward who can put the ball on the deck and score one-on-one, but he doesn’t finish well in traffic. He needs to finish stronger at the rim. If anything, he ends up drawing a lot of fouls and getting to the free throw line frequently. He can shoot it from range, too, but his jumper can be very inconsistent. He forces a lot of plays and would greatly benefit by improving his shot selection. He is a good open court player who can handle the ball well in transition. He’s also a plus-offensive rebounder but is just average on the defensive end. His lack of physicality could be a problem moving forward. He needs time to develop and would probably benefit from playing college ball.
Ladji Coulibaly 🇲🇱 | 6-11 Big | 2006 (Manresa)
Coulibaly had a solid tournament and is one of the players whose game should translate best to the pro level. He has decent size/length and is starting to fill out nicely. He is fairly mobile, but I worry about his higher center of gravity. Coulibaly can play both in the high and low post. He has expanded his shooting range and will shoot it from 3 now, too, but is not a great shooter just yet. He may have some potential as a stretch big man down the road but at the moment he should still focus on scoring down low. He’s a solid finisher at the rim off straight line drives to the basket and can also score off catching lobs. Coulibaly can also put the ball on the deck in the open court surprisingly well for a young big man. He brings a good defensive presence and has some legit potential as rim protector — even at the pro level. He notably rebounds his area well, too. He was badly outplayed by Ismaila Diagne in the loss to Real Madrid. Not unlike his teammate Paul Ater Maker, he is a guy who I think would greatly benefit from going the NCAA route.
Anthony Rodriguez 🇨🇺 | 6-11 Big | 2006 (C.B. L’Hospitalet)
The surprise player of the tournament who seemingly came out of nowhere! Anthony Rodriguez is developing his game at the Pablo Laso Basketball Academy in Madrid but he was loaned to play with the host team at this event to showcase his talents. He has good size and length with a presumed plus-wingspan. He is not really an explosive athlete, but he is mobile and runs the court well for his size. He plays mostly inside and doesn’t show much shooting range. His shot mechanics look decent, though, based on his free throw stroke. Rodriguez is a good screen and dive player who can score off lobs. He hit a couple nice turnaround shots in the low post throughout the event. He’s a good offensive rebounder, too — following his own shots well and scoring often via tip-ins. He provides a physical presence in the paint on both sides of the court. He has an inconsistent motor — as he was caught with his arms down by his side several times — but has the length and mobility to defend the pick-and-roll effectively, when engaged. Rodriguez rebounds his area well. Though he is still quite raw, he definitely has some interesting upside and is one to monitor closely in the future.