In the latest edition of ‘P.I. Pulse’, Pro Insight’s Alex Brown dives deep into three intriguing Nike EYBL standouts with NBA potential:
EYBL was routinely one of my favorite stops on the scouting calendar last cycle, consistently providing high quality competition, interesting players, new contexts, connections, and a lot of learning experiences along the way. After being on the ground for three live sessions and spending 80 or so hours in the gym, it was clear that there will be a myriad of prospects that will outperform their relative expectations. I struggled narrowing this list down to three, as there were at least six other guys that were highly considered and believable as NBA prospects. Another time, perhaps…
For now, the three following standouts were the most comfortable evals for me as far as projecting their NBA trajectory and understanding where the development hurdles are. Additionally, these choices were not necessarily who I thought could fill the largest role or be drafted the highest relative to their “ranking,” but more focused on interesting development paths with uniquely elite skills that the NBA values. Without further adieu, here are three standouts who showed intriguing NBA upside throughout this past EYBL season.
*Analytical References: Cerebro’s Glossary
Joseph “JoJo” Tugler | 6’8” | Big | Committed - Houston
At a glance, JoJo Tugler might not look like one of the most valuable and impactful players in the country after only averaging 10.8 pts over 24 games at roughly 23 mpg while only shooting ~56% from the field and just 44% from the line. His offensive development track is not an easy case, so, what makes him a potential NBA talent? As a 6’8” big that isn’t a particularly high-level shooter or overly efficient from the field, he has to be a valuable outlier somewhere for it to make sense. Luckily, JoJo absolutely is, and it is no secret to many in the grassroots community that JoJo Tugler is one of the most impactful defenders in the country at the 17U level. JoJo is also still very young for his class (especially during the COVID era), and won’t turn 19 until after his first season of college basketball is completed.
Calling Card: Outlier Defensive Versatility and Impact
JoJo Tugler is an absolute defensive menace who wreaks havoc on opposing offenses. He shines as a small-ball 5 and is incredibly versatile and disruptive with his self-reported 7’5” wingspan (which I’m inclined to believe is close to accurate), massive hands, and relentless motor. Tugler’s combination of elite instincts, physical tools, lateral quickness, effort, feel, and competitiveness allows him to add significant value in both POA and team defense settings while generating events at a very high level.
In POA, Tugler is a multi-positional defender that has the length to defend bigs and the lateral mobility to check wings and guards. Therefore, Tugler is able to switch effectively, punish guards for putting him on an island, and strip opposing handlers with his length and active hands. Very often, there is no advantage gained by generating a switch onto Tugler, and you’ll even see Tugler get the assignment to step out beyond the arc to check the opposing team’s best player. He also has really impressive on-ball microskills, including a very natural understanding of forcing offensive players into disadvantageous angles. JoJo is a solid post defender as well, giving bigs with NBA size trouble with that length and angle game (though bully-ball 5s can still take advantage). Occasionally, Tugler’s non-stop motor, competitiveness, and raw movement style can get him into foul trouble, but it is more of an area to track as his movement skills develop rather than something to worry about at this stage. For his age, Tugler offers versatility on the ball that few bigs can claim.
As an off-ball/team defender, JoJo’s value as a havoc defender truly is exemplified. He is capable of making some of the most elite rotations you’ll see at this level for a big on a possession-to-possession basis, and he is unremittingly bringing disruption to the passing lanes or making a play at the rim. Here, his recognition, timing, ground coverage, and instincts are all at another level for a 2005-born big, and when you pair that with his outlier tools and competitive fire, they become invaluable. Furthermore, JoJo excels at protecting the rim in power play or 2v1 situations, as his length, feel, and positioning allow him to play patiently with his reactions and process while maintaining his effectiveness. Naturally, these tools and skills allow Tugler to cover a myriad of PnR schemes, including show, drop, hard hedge, blitz, and eventually ice when it becomes prevalent in the structure he is in (either as the weakside help or POA defender). Tugler is also an excellent rebounder, constantly making multiple efforts in and out of his area, high-pointing the ball, and keeping it secure with those massive hands. He is certainly a big that will consistently finish plays on the defensive end and win possessions for his team.
Overall, there are a lot of athletic, ‘toolsy’ bigs that just can’t do what Tugler consistently does with his natural instincts and innate understanding of where to position himself to be impactful. I saw some of the better scorers in the nation and bigs with legit NBA size struggle with Tugler, as well. This was not just a game-to-game thing — his impact was consistently felt at one of the highest levels of high school basketball, even during those long, 8+ hour days in the gym where he’d play multiple games per day. Sure, there were moments of fatigue when he plays as hard as he does, but I was very impressed with the consistency of his defensive impact, nonetheless. Furthermore, Tugler stood out analytically on Cerebro’s database. At session 3, JoJo posted a 10.1 C-RAM, which ranked the second-highest overall behind Ohio State commit Devin Royal. Furthermore, he finished at the 10th ranked spot in session 2, posting a 9.1 C-RAM, and consistently excelled in the DSI (defensive statistical impact) category.
Growing into the Modern Game: Reaping the Benefits of Movement Optimization
Offensively, JoJo is rather raw overall, but there are some positives. The general sell for Tugler is that he excels as a multiple-effort offensive rebounder and rim runner and does the dirty work offensively with unlockable upside as a play finisher and advantage maintainer. Furthermore, JoJo flashes the ability to be a very solid vertical threat for his age despite volatile, unoptimized movement, and projects as a solid lob catcher as a roller or from the dunker spot with his massive hands and absurd length. Additionally, Tugler sprints the floor when he sees a lane to fill and loves to finish in space, often firing himself up by throwing down massive transition dunks. He can turn defense into offense by leveraging his defensive energy to generate these opportunities, as well.
Essentially, the idea for his offensive fit in the modern NBA is that he could take on the role of those energy, hustle, glue-guy, hyper-efficient, small ball bigs — an archetype exemplified in Robert Williams III (an ex-Houston Hoops big that Tugler actually measures similarly to). He already has the defensive promise and huge impact to fill that role on the other end, but he will need to make plenty of strides to reach the offensive requirements. This would require JoJo to be adept at play finishing, rim running, offensive rebounding, rolling, and short roll decision-making in big space. There is upside there and some positives to work with, but it clearly has plenty of levels to rise. So, what is currently holding him back from reaching the highest level?
The main issue? He has some very raw offensive movement skills and doesn’t harness his kinetic chain well as a vertical athlete. His shortcomings aren’t from a lack of intention, motor, or physical tools, they are all there, it is from the hindrances he faces in his movement in general. The largest areas to tackle with his movement are balance, coordination, proprioception, and the energy transfer (everywhere). His movement is very far away from being optimized, and it restricts him far too often. The two most important offensive areas where this shows up are in short roll playmaking and finishing situations.
Despite his hindrances, there is genuine promise in JoJo’s potential to grow as a short roll playmaker and advantage maintainer. Tugler has shown a capable process of where to move the ball when he catches on the roll (or in space) and the intention to do so, but doesn’t regularly have the skill/movement needed to fully implement it as a consistent tool. Tugler’s eyes will move in the right direction and you can see the intent on a passing decision, but the body and the mind seem to struggle to consistently coalesce in a way that allows him to maximize the process and execute with accuracy. Additionally, he can struggle with the roll catch and subsequent proprioception with regards to putting himself in the best position to get a clean, balanced pass off, often leading to wild passes or unnecessary dribbles. Obviously, these possessions need to turn into more crisp, decisive, accurate passes for it to work at the highest level. However, since the process and intention seems to be there, I am more optimistic that Tugler will be able to roll into big space and make a sound decision with the basketball more effectively and consistently when additional coordination and balance gains are realized. I see it as more of a question of how far his body can reasonably develop to cater to skills like this rather than a process problem.
As a finisher, JoJo is at his best playing from the dunker spot or in transition with time and space to load, but is far from perfect at this stage. He can struggle on the roll (36th percentile), in the post (48th percentile), or in traffic due to, you guessed it, the movement skills. For example, Tugler tends to lean forward heavily in the loading phase on his one-foot jump (occasionally being a bit flatfooted too) by trying to put too much power into his jump and unintentionally hindering his balance and ability to leverage his entire kinetic chain to go up strong. This causes him to fall victim to playing below the rim too often and struggling to finish through any contact. Consequently, he is a little underdeveloped as a finisher, and his touch is pretty poor around the rim. Of course, there are flashes of highlight finishes that show you just how great he could be, but I am not yet comfortable with him consistently gathering and finishing/passing on the move. For his finishing projection, learning to leverage the energy transfer (ideally off two feet, where it is far better) will be critical. Focusing early on consistently strengthening and harnessing the power of his kinetic chain will be key in correcting the loading phase of his jump, and it should significantly augment his ability to finish in space/through contact. It will also be safer from an injury prevention standpoint.
Often, one foot loading in traffic keeps him notably below the rim, often showing a disconnect between the upper and lower body.
When loading more optimally (spring jumper style), the results are much more effective, but still could be better.
Additionally, his hindrances as a finisher are also the results of lacking fundamental ability to employ advanced gathers (pro hop, jump stop, euro, etc.) that cater to his two-foot leaping and promote balance. His propensity to play away from where he is more capable as an athlete shows that the feel there is very, very raw, and/or that JoJo may not be fully comfortable moving that way with his current balance and coordination. Basically, it needs to transform from a weak, one foot, unbalanced gather that leads to a contested below-the-rim attempt into a strong, two foot, balanced gather, leading to a quality layup, dunk, or pass.
Overall, untapped movement optimization seems to be a primary source of Tugler’s upside, and has the potential to be the key to transforming his flaws. Naturally, as his movement becomes optimized over time he will draw more fouls, finish more often above the rim, and be able to employ his passing more effectively due to the balance and coordination gains.
However, the reality is that scouts (plus Houston and NBA teams) will not get a real chance to truly look past the surface to see how far his movement optimization can go until they perform the proper testing and get him in their facilities. As much as I’d like to have this equation’s solution figured out, attempting to advise a development plan without having him in for testing would be purely speculation and unlikely to be conducive to honing in on his potential value. There are only so many conclusions that can be drawn and observations that can be made at this point. What we can deduce is that there are notable movement flaws restricting him from fully utilizing his skillset and filling the ideal mold he will need to fill to reach the NBA.
Luckily, I am optimistic that in Houston’s S&C program these issues will be tackled head on. Conveniently, Houston’s S&C coach (Alan Bishop) is a specialist in kinetic chain enhancement/optimization, which is (according to a couple of my S&C colleagues I shared this with) exactly what Tugler needs to start using proper loading more consistently and tapping into those athletic tools correctly. Balance/coordination gains are logical here as the kinetic chain becomes more connected throughout.
With what information is available right now, this is how I would build a more efficient, scalable, NBA attack with Tugler:
Heavy focus on improving movement skill flaws, including balance, coordination, and kinetic chain.
Limit self creation, emphasis on choosing efficient spots as a play finisher and rim runner. Develop consistent mental pathways for when to employ advanced footwork and gathers.
Put him in situations where he can make a decision against a broken defense or on the short roll in big space with optimized movement.
I do not expect Tugler to be a one-and-done type of talent due to how raw he is on multiple fronts and how long it could take to optimize his movement. Depending on how quickly he can hit on his role’s developmental needs, movement skills, and efficiency requirements, he has a chance to find an immediate fit in a coveted NBA role when he is ready. This may not happen until the ‘26 or ‘27 draft cycle, for what it’s worth, as there is no way to know (currently) how long optimizing his movement for NBA competition could take. Currently, I expect him to be a multi-year development project that can go from being a day-one, high impact, high motor havoc defender to a potential all-conference level player that Houston won’t want to take off the floor.
All factors considered, JoJo has the chance to become one of those highly coveted versatile bigs that NBA teams need in their rotation in the playoffs. He might not be traditionally sized, move aesthetically/fundamentally well (yet), or shoot a pretty ball, but what Tugler can and could do is consistently rewarded at the NBA level and drives winning basketball.
Gavin Griffiths | 6’6” | Wing | Committed: Rutgers
Moving from a more complicated development case to a simpler one, Expressions Elite’s Gavin Griffiths thrived as a secondary option that could shoulder large three-point volume on high efficiency on the wing. Alongside the eye-catching five-star Matas Buzelis (G-League Ignite) and toolsy 4-star Taylor Bol Bowen (Florida State), Gavin made his presence well known off the ball, solidifying himself as one of the best shooters in all of EYBL. After missing out on the initial two EYBL sessions dealing with a facial injury, Gavin Griffiths came roaring back in Session 3, averaging 13.2 points and shooting 37.8% from deep on an impressive 11.1 attempts per 40 minutes. After a slower Session 4 from 3, Gavin shot 40.6% from deep on 11.3 attempts per 40 at Peach Jam, and posted a team high C-RAM, 3PE, and PSP. As a 6’6” wing with elite perimeter shooting versatility and very solid archetypal ancillary skills, Griffiths is a great bet to hear his name called on draft night sometime in the next couple years, and should be a consensus top-20 recruit at this point, at the absolute least. Up until a day or so ago, he was even ranked below 60 by one service.
Calling Card: Elite Shooting Versatility, D-P-S Upside
Gavin is about as easy a sell as any on the offensive end after watching just a few minutes of his perimeter shooting acumen. He is a highly confident wing who excels at shooting off movement, moving extremely well off the ball, scoring off screens, attacking closeouts, burying spot-up threes, and consistently providing a threat from beyond the NBA three-point line. This level of shooting versatility in an 18 year old, 6’6”-6’7” wing is ridiculously impressive, and most scouts/coaches I have spoken with agree that he is ahead of where some of the elite wing shooters in the NBA were at this stage.
So, what has set him apart as a shooter? How is he able to achieve such an impressive level of versatility? Well, on top of having great work habits and an (evidently) praiseworthy mindset for his role, the answer lies in the microskills and innate shooting feel he possesses. As far as impressive microskills go, he possesses a deadly combination of an incredibly quick trigger, advanced pre-shot footwork, elite touch, and great instincts for finding gaps (especially drifting/lifting). On the feel side, Gavin has outlier feel/touch shot moments that speak to an innate shooting ability and feel that coaches can’t just teach. There will be no-dip NBA threes, off-balance mid-range shots that look way too clean, double clutch/after-fake pull-ups with perfect touch, and a feel for range that goes beyond reps. It’s hard to put into words at times, but his feel level as a shooter is so naturally elite that it can really set him apart. Essentially, along with having a ridiculously high polish level as a shooter, he has some outlier natural shooting talent.
Here are two such examples, shared by Cerebro’s PD Web:
If you weren't intrigued already, building on that, Gavin is also able to leverage his shooting gravity to create advantages off closeout attacks, handoffs, and off-screen actions. To capitalize on that advantage as a scorer, he flashes a potentially strong floater game, one-dribble pull-ups, some toughness in absorbing contact, and is a decent athlete who can finish above the rim in space. The complementary ancillary skills are at a solid enough level to elevate him from being ‘just a shooter.’
Perhaps most notably among the ancillary skills, Gavin is a willing, capable facilitator who’s able to make solid passing reads in breakdown/advantage situations. He displays a sound process by showing an understanding of where to move the ball to maintain an advantage, most notably when looking for cutters or the big at the dunker spot. Additionally, Gavin has the timing and passing touch needed to execute here, and he rarely turns it over, having maintained a 1.0 or better AST:TO in each EYBL session. When his shot was a bit cold during Session 4, his assist numbers jumped to 3.6, taking on the role of a facilitator when his team needed it. As far as handling is concerned, he can put the ball on the floor well enough to get to his spots off 1-3 dribbles, push in transition, maintain advantages, and attack a closeout. While he doesn’t do anything particularly advanced, he has a serviceable overall playmaking and handling acumen, and that is about all you can ask for at this stage.
Naturally, his upside as a dribble-pass-shoot wing who can shoulder huge three-point volume becomes very intriguing for the NBA, as he already has the elite shooting to lean on with a solid positional foundation for dribbling and passing. This is the bedrock of an ideal sharpshooter to slot in as a third option alongside established on-ball creators. The modern game always needs elite off-ball role players to bring the most out of the advantages created by the initiators, and Gavin could fill that role to a tee.
Growing into the Modern Game: Archetypal Defensive Demands
While Gavin’s offense is clearly in line with what the NBA values, the defense will really be the swing factor on how impactful he could become, but not quite as critical to his success as JoJo’s movement skill optimization, for instance. It is more of a question of how much value can reasonably be expected after athletic gains are made and the threshold for past players in his archetype. Optimism has been mounting on nearly all fronts with regards to his defensive impact, and he has worked very hard to answer questions on that end and was far better this year. However, there are still levels to rise for it to make the most sense for NBA teams.
Defensively, Gavin’s value and fit seem reminiscent of a personal favorite former sleeper pick of mine, Justinian Jessup (also comparable to Duncan Robinson). For reference, Jessup, the 51st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Boise State and former two-star recruit on ESPN, is currently stashed by the Golden State Warriors in Spain’s Liga ACB with Zaragoza after playing the last two seasons with the NBL’s Illawarra Hawks. For those who may not be all that familiar with Jessup, he is a 24-year old, 6’6”, elite perimeter weapon who adds some defensive toughness and brings mental engagement. He can shoot with high volume off movement, off the dribble, and off the catch, along with effectively getting to mid-range counters against closeouts. Recently, he seems to have been adding some muscle to his frame after coming into the 2020 draft pretty thin, adding to his ability to own his space on both ends. Gavin comes in with a similar offensive acumen, though more advanced than Jessup was at his age. The defensive sell for Jessup was that there was a solid foundation to build on consisting of positional size, mental presence, toughness, and effort, but he would need to get stronger and become more dynamic as an athlete (which is currently occurring, but needs more time to reach the NBA level). The sell for Gavin’s defense will be pretty similar.
When defending the point of attack, Gavin looks similar to Robinson and Jessup as a mover, as he doesn’t offer a strength or quickness advantage and has to win possessions by forcing bad shots and maintaining advantageous angles. Especially since Gavin projects as a relatively average overall athlete, closeout technique and overall footwork will need to continue to improve since forcing disadvantageous angles needs to be his bread and butter. He will simply not have the room for error that other wings have, and will need to eliminate hindrances like negative steps as much as possible. However, unlike Robinson for instance, Gavin has a better feel for contesting and forcing bad shots, and doesn’t get baited into jumping on the perimeter too much. He thrives when staying in a stance (which fundamentally could improve, seems a little unbalanced) and luring his opponents into tough looks. Some of the better guards in the country (such as Tre Johnson, DJ Wagner) didn’t consistently get an advantage when guarded by Gavin, but you can tell they weren’t all that uncomfortable either. As his feel and experience level improve, playing smart POA defense and giving the effort he’s been giving can keep him on the court when it matters, but notable athletic strides and optimized movement must occur.
Bridging off that, here are some tangibles Gavin offers as a team defender: serviceable physical tools, good communication, solid mental process, engagement, and effort in finishing out plays on a closeout or on the glass. Where he falls short is more a case of his athletic limitations at this point, but he has made tangible progress and is serviceable here. For example, while the process looks really solid, Gavin will need to make the necessary athletic gains to navigate scrambles or off-ball screens more capably to add value. As offensive actions become more complicated with lesser room for error, Gavin will need to have the athletic reactivity to keep up with where his process is taking him. Being able to get flexible with his lower body when turning corners will be important, as the movement can be a bit choppy right now with too many negative steps and lacking fluidity. Additionally, Gavin also isn’t particularly explosive, and does not generate events often defensively. With eight steals and two blocks total per Synergy (26 games played), you’d like to see that improve, and it is a testament to him not quite being able to capitalize athletically on what he sees from a team defense perspective.
Overall, for what his role will demand defensively, Gavin is on the right track. There is a solid foundation in place with capable processing, communication, effort, and physical tools. When compared to successful pros in his role, Gavin has the chance to be marginally better defensively, but he will need to put in the work in the weight room to do so. He will need to continue to get stronger and improve his mobility, that much is clear, but the intangible factors displayed make me optimistic that this will continue to improve. Multiple sources have spoken highly about Gavin’s work ethic and mentality, emphasizing his attention to detail, curiosity, and accountability. If there are gains that need to be made, there is no shortage of belief that he is the type of individual that will actively work towards that with the mental buy-in.
With Gavin, the most important skill is very clearly already here. He has an elite skill to work with, and that is what will get him on the court early. Bringing the ancillary skills that he does just makes him all the more enticing, and I expect him to likely be a two-and-done. The largest contextual element to track with his growth is if the athleticism and defense development really check out against Big Ten competition and stay on the positive trajectory. If he can continue to grow there and become more serviceable than a Duncan Robinson or Justinian Jessup in those areas, man, could he have a really successful NBA career.
Milan Momcilovic | 6’8" Forward | Committed - Iowa State
The final spot here belongs to Pewaukee High School’s Milan Momcilovic, a uniquely skilled forward prospect that is a good bet to become one of the best players in the Big 12. He may not wow you as an athlete, have an established niche defensively, or have an NBA-style game yet, but Milan Momcilovic was easily the most polished scorer among every forward prospect I evaluated throughout the season. Milan solidified himself as an outlier scorer due to the natural ease he has in getting to his spots in the halfcourt along with possessing nearly unmatched positional shooting versatility and capable passing.
Calling Card: Elite Halfcourt Scorer with Passing Chops
To set the stage, here were some notable analytics takeaways from Synergy and Cerebro:
89th percentile (382 FGA) for halfcourt efficiency (87th percentile + assists)
85th percentile in spot-up, 84th percentile in guarded C&S
82nd percentile on jumpers behind the 3pt line, and 91st percentile on jumpers within 17 feet)
76th percentile in PnP
78th percentile in the post
98th percentile on runners (low volume, but the eye test speaks to the prowess well)
10.6 C-RAM (rank 2 overall, session 1). 21.3 ppg, 63% TS, 105(!) 3PE, 90 PSP
9.4 C-RAM (rank 4 overall, session 3). 23.2 ppg, 52.7% TS (note, on 20 shots per game), 79 3PE, 86 PSP
As far as pure scorers go, Milan Momcilovic was in the absolute highest tier at EYBL, routinely handing out buckets with ease, efficiency, and volume at three levels. As a primary option tasked with shouldering some of the largest scoring volume in EYBL, Momcilovic thrived as a versatile perimeter scorer, post creator, pick and pop threat, patient finisher, and facilitator.
At 6’8”, Milan is one of the purest shooters on the circuit with clean, consistent mechanics and an excellent energy transfer. As a spot-up shooter, his comfort level in burying contested jumpers is special. He is one of those shooters that only needs an inch of space to get his shot up, and doesn’t seem to be bothered at all by closeouts or tight windows. He also thrives at creating small windows in triple threat with jabs and ball fakes, which is all he needs to pull-up comfortably. Naturally, the spots he chooses and the shots he creates for himself can look a bit different, as having that little window of space is all he needs to get an efficient shot at this level. While he is unlikely to be tasked with making a bunch of contested jumpers for an NBA team, the ease at which he operates, gets to his spots, and finds advantageous situations is certainly unique, and speaks to his insanely high comfort level as a scorer. What makes Momcilovic even more unique is that he spaces the floor more like an elite wing shooter rather than your everyday pick-and-pop stretch-4. Momcilovic actually excels as a movement shooter, as he has the microskills with regards to footwork and balance to consistently get himself under control quickly and put up a good look. The pre-shot footwork for drift/lift is pretty pure for a 6’8”, (soon-to-be) 18 year old, as well, a skill not always prevalent at this stage for his archetype. Milan could thrive in an NBA system operating off pick-and-pops, ghost screens, flares, pin-downs, hammers, etc., as chances are he will hit it at a high level from either side of the floor. Team Herro ran multiple sets for Milan to get these movement shooting looks as well, flashing the high degree of schematic versatility Momcilovic offers as a perimeter threat.
To complement an already versatile offensive attack, Momcilovic is potentially the best mid-range and mid-post player in his age group for his position. As a methodical mid-range creator, Milan can get a clean shot off in almost any circumstance, not deterred by contests or physicality. Despite not really creating traditionally ‘open’ looks, he finished in the 91st percentile for jumpers within 17 feet. He is able to do this so effectively because he has the unique ability to draw contact, spin back, and get to his favorite move, the “Dirk Fade,” which is executed at an elite level for this stage. Additionally, one of the more intriguing aspects of Milan’s game is that he isn’t ever sped up or forced to play outside of his pace, and that really shows up in the mid-post. There is a natural ease there that you just don't see often in high school hoops.
Building on that, while Momcilovic is not a prolific above the rim scorer, he is a capable finisher down low due to his touch, balance, angle choice, patience, and timing. Milan also has a keen understanding of how defenders will play him, especially other bigs that are hunting blocks. He excels at finding windows for layups by playing off two feet and utilizing a myriad of fakes, often succeeding in getting defenders in the air or creating an advantageous angle for himself.
Moreover, Milan has an excellent floater game that he favors heavily when moving downhill, as he is capable of making that little touch/push shot from within 10 feet (off one or two). In the post, Milan has a really pretty right handed hook shot over his left shoulder to complement the Dirk fade. Off the ball, he is great at sealing down low, assertively doing his work early for quick hitters and boasting impressive poise. One microskill he consistently flashes across the board is the ability to keep the ball high and finish high, not wasting motion, energy, or time. Essentially, Milan is pretty much the exact opposite of JoJo Tugler when it comes to finishing, as he has the balance, poise, touch, feel, and craft that JoJo lacks, but doesn’t have those NBA physical tools or athletic potential to really succeed as a 5 at the next level.
Finally, I wanted to touch on Milan’s passing acumen, one of the more undervalued aspects of his game. While he typically acts as a stationary hub facilitator with Team Herro, Milan has displayed some playmaking prowess and ability to fit passes into tight windows. His passing style is crisp, quick, and decisive, often hitting teammates right in their pockets with great touch. He reads doubles well in the post, is unselfish with his touches, and plays with his eyes constantly up. When making system reads, there is no hesitation in his reactivity, and the execution is strong enough to give him some designed passing responsibilities in modern offense. The overall process seems quite promising in bringing a consistent approach that takes what the defense gives. As his handle gets better, transferring this prowess/process to more on-the-move playmaking should be achievable. Either way, Momcilovic is a 4 that coaches can trust to make the right play with the ball in his hands, taking playmaking pressure off the primary and secondary creators and allowing them to get going off action without constantly needing to handle the ball. That system facilitating capacity is clearly valued in the most successful NBA teams, even if Milan isn’t the one necessarily creating the advantage.
Growing into the Modern Game: Role Adjustments, Playing in Space, Building a Defensive Niche
As previously stated, Milan’s self-created shots look a little different compared to your typical wing or 4. Those types of advantages are not really conducive to becoming an advantage creator at the NBA level, as the NBA caters more to PnR, getting into space, and creating/maintaining power plays. When your form of on-ball advantage creation is primarily reliant upon the post or carving out small windows for contested jumpers, well, that efficiency likely won’t match what the league can create most possessions, even if Milan is at an elite level for this stage. The threshold to be a high-option NBA creator is so absurdly high, and betting on Milan reaching that level with his current role with Team Herro is, of course, not a realistic expectation. That doesn’t hurt his pro projection at all, but he will need to remold his game in some stylistic ways for the NBA.
In my view, the road to a successful adjustment revolves around excelling in an off-ball role more focused on leveraging his versatile shooting ability, floater game, and decisive passing to thrive alongside other creators. Building this will be oriented around retaining and capitalizing on that huge shooting gravity, especially due to just how elite of a contested shooter he already is. Leaning on that, the next step for Milan is to really become a greater threat to attack a closeout and finish or maintain a power play or advantage.
As athletic gains are made, the shooting gravity Milan possesses will allow him to get more opportunities to put the ball on the floor to attack those hard closeouts and get into space. Ideally, he will capitalize by getting into space and making a pass or utilizing his mid-range pull-up/floater. It is clear he can capitalize on an advantage as a scorer, however, right now he leans on hitting the Dirk Fade to capitalize, as he mostly winds up in traffic due to the current lack of wing-level handle/burst. That shot can absolutely be implemented since it is an elite tool, but naturally the shot diet is going to move away from halfcourt contested jumpers, and he will have to be ready for that turning into more floaters and open pull-ups. On the other hand, he is already a great stationary passer, but bridging off that to build those connector skills as a passer would be huge. As an advantage maintainer, he will need to tighten the handle, improve his movements (get lower, catch and rip more deliberately, etc.), and adapt to passing on the move rather than always reading the game as a stationary hub facilitator. He is not really in a system where he gets into space often, but at the NBA level he will have to adapt to the established system of finishing and maintaining advantages. I believe in the process and skill level enough to where I think that is achievable.
Another area to improve would be transition offense as a whole. Playing in space hasn’t been something he has really had to excel at yet, and Milan only finished in the 39th percentile in transition (58th percentile when assists are factored in). His transition game is more reliant on spot-ups and early seals, and the bottom line is that he needs to get quicker, add stamina, and make some weight room gains (especially in his lower body and core) to really fill lanes and fit in a modern transition offensive attack. This is expected more and more out of modern 4s, and Momcilovic will have to adapt to that mold.
While Milan does have these offensive questions that will need to be answered, he is still a pretty safe bet to provide value as a highly versatile perimeter shooter and system facilitator. He has an elite skill to build on that will keep him on the court and open up other development avenues. Overall, the biggest hurdle for Milan’s NBA trajectory will be finding a fit on the defensive end that is, at the very least, serviceable.
In POA, Milan is pretty much a one-position defender at the moment. He can check similarly sized 4s and some slower wings, but can struggle to keep up with guards and mitigate larger 5s. He moves a little choppy, and space creating guards and wings don’t really struggle with him. In PnR defense, Milan is pretty average for his level as well, and typically is relegated to drop or (barely) show for the most part. He focuses more on mitigating the screener on the roll or pop rather than playing both at once, since he isn’t really a rim protector. Additionally, when Momcilovic is defending the handler in ball screens, the game plan is to switch everything with his current level of athleticism. The footwork, balance, overall mobility, and vertical explosiveness will all need to be larger focus areas if he wants to be serviceable at the NBA level. The positives here are that he doesn’t act lackadaisical and that he plays in a stance while actively trying to defend with his chest. He has good closeout technique, contests shots, and stays on balance more often than not. There is buy-in here, the tools just hold him back right now. This is more than can be said about some NBA prospects coming in.
On the team defense side, I think Momcilovic is actually a little underrated. The largest reason for that is likely to be the lack of event generation (total of 19 steals, 9 blocks in EYBL) and upright style, as he isn’t making huge weakside rotations for blocks or blowing up passing lanes. However, what Momcilovic has shown is mental presence, situational awareness, responsibility awareness, and a care factor. I have seen too many NBA prospects with elite offensive skills take a lot of plays off, don’t give their all, show negative body language, or make a lot of lost-cause judgements. With Momcilovic, there wasn’t much of that at all, which is an area I can be hyper-critical on. The intent to defend is there, he just really doesn’t have the athletic prowess to fully act on it yet. The question then becomes (similar to JoJo on offense) more oriented around how many levels can he realistically rise here just by optimizing and augmenting his movement.
The defensive levels to rise are pretty clear in clips like we see below, but the foundation isn’t too bad for a modern 4 prospect.
While he is unlikely to become a differentiating piece on the defensive end, all NBA teams need is for him to be serviceable, mentally present, and engaged enough to mitigate advantages to the best of his ability. The intelligent positioning, active communication, and effort will be the name of the game, but he will need to make plenty of athletic strides to utilize them and stick in the league.
Fortunately, Momcilovic has made it known that he understands his limitations, has the right mindset, and believes he is in the best situation to grow.
From a recent Q&A with Cyclonefanatic:
What we have in Momcilovic is a uniquely skilled, perimeter-oriented 4 who can provide shooting versatility from deep, unique mid-range self creation, and a dribble-pass base that may be serviceable for developing him into a more modern player. Momcilovic’s potential impact and ceiling will be determined by how hard he works on his defense and body to adapt to the high paced modern game, as the type of functionally athletic strides he will make at the NCAA level will determine just how scalable he can be in his ancillary skills. Since he likely won’t be anything more than serviceable defensively (which is the level he needs to reach), those athletic strides need to open up differentiation in offensive ways, perhaps leading to a role where he can facilitate more and get tertiary self-creation reps. Fortunately for his projection he does have that elite skill to bank on in his elite positional shooting versatility, in addition to being the correct age for his class.