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The Basketball Champions League: Taking a Dive into the Talent Pool


The Basketball Champions League has been a great incubator for young, talented players since its first season in 2016/17. Here, we take a data-driven look into five prospects.

By: Fabien Le Luyer, Miguel Tavares

The Basketball Champions League (BCL) has been a breeding ground for young talent since its first season in 2016/17. Some of these youngsters have been drafted by the NBA or featured on their national teams after appearing in the competition, with players like Frank Ntilikina and Arnoldas Kulboka being notable examples. The 2019/20 season has seen over 30 players born since 2000 make an appearance and Stats Perform have selected five players that have put together great performances this season.

Amar Sylla – Filou Oostende (16 games, 6.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.3 apg)

Sylla has featured in all Filou Oostende’s games in the BCL this season and no player in the league born since 2000 has started more games (16). Sylla is also leading the millennials in rebounds in the BCL 2019/20, with 4.9 per game. He’s one of the two players, together with Alperen Sengun, to have registered a double-double (16 pts, 13 reb v BAXI Manresa). The Senegalese has also blocked 17 shots in the BCL 2019/20, more than any other young player in the league.

Most rebound by young Basketball Champions Leage players

Arturs Kurucs – VEF Riga (14 games, 10.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg)

Kurucs has started all VEF Riga’s 14 games in the BCL this season and finished as the second-best scorer for his team (148). The young Latvian is the only player born since 2000 to average 10+ points in the BCL 2019/20 (10.6) and he averages the most minutes played in the competition among the youngsters (30.4). Kurucs also made 25 3-pointers in the BCL this season, second most for a Riga player and 14 more than any other BCL player born since 2000.

Top points per game for young players in the Basketball Champions League

Alperen Sengun – Teksut Bandirma (15 games, 6.6 ppg, 0.6 rpg, 0.7 apg)

After starting his first 13 games on the bench, Sengun joined Teksut Bandirma’s starting five in their last two games in the BCL. He finished with 16 points in their visit to Nymburk and then scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds in the second leg of the Round of 16. That was Sengun’s first double-double in the competition and only the second time in which he’s scored more than 20 points. Sengun has played 20 or more minutes in four of his 15 appearances with Bandirma this season, averaging 18 points and scoring in double digits in each of those four appearances.

Alperen Sengun matches in the Basketball Champions League

Sengun also has at least one block in each of his last five games in the competition, including four against ERA Nymburk in the first leg of the Round of 16 – tying for the most by a Bandirma player in the history of the BCL (Damian Kulig also 4 blocks against AEK in January 2018).

Carlos Alocen – Casademont Zaragoza (16 games, 7.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.7 apg)

Alocen started 12 of his 16 games with Casademont Zaragoza in the BCL, the most among all players from the Spanish squad in the league in 2019/20. Alocen tied for the most minutes among Zaragoza players in the competition.

Casademont Zaragoza Players in the Basketball Champions League

Alocen has made a total of 59 assists in the BCL, more than any other player on Zaragoza’s roster. He ranks 20th in the BCL in total assists while only two other Spanish players have made more assists than him in the competition in 2019/20: Dani Perez (83) and Ferran Bassas (71). He has also made 58% of his 2-point shots (31/53), which is third best among all point guards to have attempted 50 or more 2-point shots in the league in 2019/20.

Keye de Vries – Filou Oostende (16 games, 6.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 3.1 apg)

De Vries has played in 16 games for Filou Oostende in the BCL, coming off the bench in every of those appearances. Despite the fact he has never started a game for the Belgian side in the competition, de Vries is one of just four players to have appeared in all Filou Oostende’s games in the BCL this season. The Dutch international has made a total of 50 assists in the BCL in 2019/20 while only two other players have made more than him off the bench: Bruno Fitipaldo and J’Covan Brown, both with 57.

Assists from Bench Players in basketball champions league 2019/20

We could have included in that list Furkan Haltali, a Turkish prodigy who was the youngest player to feature in the BCL this season. Born in December 2002, Haltali played in 15 of Bandirma’s 16 games, gaining more minutes every game and earning a starting spot in two playoff games. Vrenz Bleijenbergh is another player to mention, as the versatile Belgium giant (208cm) proved to be a complete player and featured in all Telenet Giants Antwerp’s 14 games this season. He scored 41 points and grabbed 19 rebounds but also provided 31 assists which was third best for Antwerp.