I was watching the Eurobasket game between Lithuania and Serbia tonight and I was totally amazed by Jonas Valanciunas, the 19-year old big guy who is maturing into a super-star. My first real impression of Jonas was in last years U18 European Championships when he lead his team to the gold medal. He followed it up this year as he became the U19 World Championship MVP as his team got a new gold medal. During the season of 2010/11 he played for Lietuvas Rytas in Euroleague and got drafted by Toronto Raptors earlier this summer.
So what is so special about him? Well, first of all he is a skilled big player, 210 cm, with a nice post-up game and he can shoot the ball from distance as well. He has good positioning in defense and rebounds well on both sides of the floor and he works super-hard all the time. But the skill I like the most is the way he sets screens. That was what caught my eye the most last summer in U18. He is constantly setting screens, sometimes 4-5 screens in the same offense even if he wouldn’t get the ball. He will continue doing this over and over, game in and game out. That is impressive! Then add that he has great hands and the skills to finish in the paint with good timing no matter if he gets hit on the way, and you will understand that he of course also gets his share of points after setting screens.
What is impressive is that he did not only do this last summer at the junior level, but he has continued doing it all year in Euroleague and now he does the same in Eurobasket and the lithuanian fans just love him! Below is a video with some clips from last summer’s U18 European Championship and tonights game in Eurobasket. Unfortunately his heavy dunk (after a screen and roll) is still not up on FibaTV, but I hope you will enjoy it anyway 😉