U18 MEN FEATURE
Germany are playing for 11th place at the U18 European Championship, but Wroclaw has seen the emergence of a new floor general who could accomplish big things in the future - despite his lack of size.
Dennis Schröder averaged 4.4 assists for Germany, ranking him fifth in the tournament, while scoring 12.3 points, grabbing 3.0 rebounds and swiping 2.0 steals a game.
|Kay Blümel believes in Scroeder's talent but he also thinks that he still needs to impove on and off the court |
Schröder is playing for Germany for the first time after taking part in the U16 and U17 training camps over the past summers.
"It's a great feeling for sure. I always wanted that. I have fought hard to be able to play here," said Schröder.
The Braunschweig-born point guard - the son of a German father and mother from Gambia - has been impressive with his quickness, decision-making and defense.
"He's quick, making good decisions almost every time on the pick-and-roll and his quickness on the pick and roll is immense. And even though he lacks size he's driving and gets the ball off the glass and makes shots," said German coach Kay Blümel.
"On defense he's a guy you don't want to play one-on-one because he's quick, has good hands and is around you all the time."
German brass feel he could make his mark for future national teams as well - perhaps even the senior side.
"He can be a really, really great point guard. He's a creative guy, he can shoot. He can do a lot of things with the ball that only a few guards in Germany can do. So he's really one of the top prospects that we have," added Blümel.
Schröder, who is expected to practice with German top flight club Phantoms Braunschweig this season and serve as second or third point guard, was honored to hear the high praise from his coach.
"My coach has a lot of faith in me and that flatters me. When someone says something like that I feel really honored," said Schröder, who spent last season playing with SpotUp Medien of the German third division ProB.
Despite all the talent and promise, there are issues for Schröder.
Blümel talked about behavioral problems involving Schröder and his teammates.
He's not a bad kid, but sometimes his behavior towards his teammates is not how it should be," said the coach.
"At this time a year ago it was even worse than it is today. He has improved a lot on that and is still improving."
Blümel said he hopes that Schröder focuses on that this season at Braunschweig.
"I'm telling him that as the point guard you have to be the leader of the team. You need to get your teammates behind you and follow you. And you have to take care of that on and off the court - that everybody likes to play with you," said the coach.
While Schröder can work on his teamwork/behavioral habits, there is little he can do about his lack of physical stature at just 1.84m - something which can be an issue when he begins to play at the higher levels.
"That's one thing he can't practice. If he doesn't grow a few more inches, it will be tough for him," said Blümel.
What happens, asked the coach, when he comes against big point guards such as Turkey's 1.92m playmaker Kenan Sipahi or someone like Greece's 1.98m Dimitris Diamantidis.
"These are big guards, so how can he guard those kinds of players. That will be the question for him in the future at the men's level."
But Blümel added: "At the U20s he will do well."
Schröder cannot wait until next summer, saying: "I want to play next summer with the U20s and play a big role."
And lay the foundation for a longer career with the German national team.