FIBA U20 - Ensminger/Bal/Tilly

France plays Germany tomorrow and it appears there will be a free livestream. Jake Ensminger is playing for Germany and Adama Bal for France. Tilly is listed on the extended Germany roster but don’t see his photo so not sure if he is playing.


[Video of France-Germany Game]

I watched the game. Both Bal and Ensminger had decent but unspectacular games. Both started for their respective teams and managed to contribute in multiple ways. I don’t have the greatest eye for basketball talent and strategy. But here are a couple thoughts:

  1. It’s a bit like Summer League with players having clearly spent very little time practicing with each other. So lots of sloppy play, but France had substantially more talent overall and was, at one point, ahead by almost 30 pts.
  2. Bal has some really impressive offensive skills in passing and driving to the hoop. He didn’t make many baffling decisions, and though his shooting percentage wasn’t stellar, his shot selection wasn’t too bad. They just didn’t fall.
  3. But Bal seems like a bit of a wallflower on offense when the ball isn’t in his hands. I wish that Podz were around to coach him up on off-ball movement and high effort at all ends. Bal’s defense seemed lackluster overall.
  4. Ensminger looks stronger than when we last saw him. Similar to Bal, he seemed to generally be a good decision-maker and capable of contributing in multiple ways. He’s not as quick as Bal, but taller, which allowed him to go for more boards, be a little tougher under the hoop, and a better defender on the perimeter where he was usually a pretty good mismatch.
  5. Ensminger looked like he needs to develop a couple more offensive tools. He is slower on the drive, but should find ways to exploit his height to make up for it.

Ultimately, I think that both were two of the more poised players on the floor for their teams and contributed less to the chaotic, turnover-heavy basketball. That’s a bit reassuring because I don’t think Santa Clara will need either to be a volume scorer, but if both can be all-around contributors who make the right decisions, they can have big roles next year.


On day 2 of the tournament, Ensminger had a better game, notching 7 points (3 of 5 shooting), 6 boards, and 6 assists. He did have 4 TOs, but chalk at least a little of that up to sloppy int’l tournament play. He has the second-highest efficiency rating on his Germany squad even without filling the hoop.

Bal struggled again to shoot, going just 2/9 for 5 points. He added 3 rebounds and 2 assists. France again overpowered their opponent. I watched most of the France game and felt that Adama was a little more active off-ball. He leads his squad with assists so far and has not been needed for a lot of scoring. But I expected a little more. Hopefully, he finds his shot soon. The core athleticism is impressive, but it seems like the pieces aren’t all in place get (albeit in a pretty meaningless tournament).


Great stuff… Thanks Patty!

Bal found his shot today and got 19 points on a very efficient 6/7 shooting with three treys. He led his squad in scoring and efficiency. He added six boards and an assist in just 17 minutes of play. France obliterated an outmatched Iceland team. It will be good to see if Adama can get close to that type of performance against better competition. But it’s nice to see that the lid came off the hoop today.

Ensminger continued to do a little of everything with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in a tighter game against Slovenia. I haven’t watched either game, so just summarizing the box score here. I’ll try to skim a bit of both later and see if I can reach any conclusions from the tape.


Every time I see/hear the name Adama, I can only think of Edward James Olmos (or Lorne Greene for us older folks) and Cylons.


What the frack are you talking about?


Patty- I haven’t had a chance to watch. From what you’ve seen is Ensminger playing PG or at least have the ball in his hands a lot in a playmaker roll?

Yup. Ensminger is the primary ball handler for Germany. Adama plays more off ball, though both he and Ensminger seem to be quick to pass rather than try to create their own offense.

After watching roughly half of each of today’s games, Adama seemed much more energetic overall on both ends. He had a pretty fun dunk on an alleyoop that showed his athleticism. He still looks a little lost to me at times and doesn’t move enough without the ball. But I thought he looked much better across the board than the previous couple of games even without the box score improvement.

Ensminger plays a slower and more cerebral game (plus Germany just goes for fewer fast breaks). He directs the offense and always looks to pass first. His height comes in handy on defense and in rebounding which I would expect him to do more of than a normal point guard.

1 Like

Pretty good games by both Ensminger and Bal today in convincing wins from each of their respective squads. Both will now play again, having advanced to the next round of the single-elimination stage of the tournament.

Ensminger went 0/4 on shooting (not great) but made both of his free throws. His real contributions, though, came in the form of 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 8 assists, and one steal, with only a single turnover. I watched a little of the game and continue to be impressed by his poise and discipline. I do think he will see the floor quite a bit this year, paired with units that can provide a bit more scoring firepower and athleticism (like Jalen Benjamin, Johnny O’Neil, and Cam Tongue, maybe even Bal).

Ensminger leads Germany in assists and is second on the squad in rebounding to this point.

Bal had an awesome first half in another dominant victory by France. Almost all of his statistical contributions came in the first 20 after which France was ahead by roughly 30 points, and Bal sat for all but 5 or so minutes the rest of the game. He ended with 11 points on 4/7 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 4 steals. The next round should provide stiffer competition, so it will be good to see if Bal can keep the momentum going.

Adama is France’s third-leading scorer to this point, just slightly behind Maxime Raynaud who is the starting PF/C for Stanford just up the road.


Good to hear re: both.

Ensminger seems like a huge question and wildcard for next season. Can he crack the playing rotation? Sendek hasn’t historically gone deep in to his bench. If/when he does go beyond ~8 guys, the 9th, 10th, etc. rarely get more than token minutes (less than 5-7mins). Can Ensminger play PG effectively against D1 athleticism? Is he better suited for the wing or in a shared or two-headed point guard role paired with Benjamin or Knapper? We really haven’t had a single dedicated point guard in recent years, mostly a shared role… ie- Jalen and Carlyle in 2000/01, Jalen and Pipes in 2001/02, Stewart and Podz last season.

Bal…glad to hear he had a little better game, seems he’s been inconsistent. The observations of being somewhat inactive in some games, being a little lost, not moving away from the ball, etc. are kind of red flags for me and things that tend to put players in Sendek’s dog house. With the fair amount of depth and competition on the wing, a player could find himself pushed down the depth chart quickly if they aren’t doing what Sendek wants/expects.
And re: Maxime Raynaud…kind of wonder if Bal and him are good friends and if the close proximity to Stanford had some influence on Bal choosing SCU.


Yeah, good point, 92. I don’t know. I think Ensminger’s length gives him advantages on rebounds and defense that will be valuable in certain situations. Benjamin is much quicker can really score. Knapper is of the same mold with less experience and, at the moment, scoring prowess. But they can’t be as active on the boards and won’t force physical mismatches on either end except to the extent that they can be that much faster than their opponents. To that point, Benjamin’s DBPM has been negative for all four of his college seasons, so he’s a defensive liability whose offensive skills more than make up for it.

So, in theory, there are roles for both Benjamin/Knapper and Ensminger given their very different skills. But that doesn’t account for the broader team dynamics, spreading around playing time to keep players happy, getting the right flow based on the other personnel, etc. I guess I should say that I could see lineups that where Ensminger would have an opportunity to prove himself and thrive. Whether any of those end up working or being used in volume is a whole other question.


Ensminger’s length and apparent rebounding open up opportunities to play him effectively as a 2 or 3 and maybe even 4 while encouraging him to be a playmaker/facilitator when he gets touches. Plus capable of ‘get it and go’ on defensive rebounds with no need to outlet pass.
All just fun offseason speculation at this point.

With no returning starters and returning so little of our overall productivity (lowest that I can think of in a long, long time) while also having what seems to be a roster high on potential, it seems there’s in endless number of plausible scenarios for the starting lineup, PT distribution and playing rotations. Tilly seems like the only lock to start; plus maybe Benjamin as well simply because of his experience and only having one other true PG option in Knapper.

1 Like

I swear I will lose my SKULL if Cam is not on the starting lineup. (I know he will take it as a challenge to just keep working harder.) But me, I won’t be so understanding. The kid is probably the MOST physical, runs the floor, sacrifices his body to create lanes and set picks. Fights for boards. The list is endless.) He has been in the gym since the last whistle of the NIT game and is putting in so many hours of work. He has been averaging 42.9% at the 3 on the shooting machine. That rant aside - I am liking what I am hearing of Ensminger. I am OKAY if Ensminger defers to the open shots with his teammates and with CAM AND TILLY working the boards, combined with Jake’s obvious rebound prowess, I like those odds.


We love Cam’s energy…in my opinion, his challenge is going to be avoiding getting into foul trouble. By my untrained eye, Cam probably had the highest fouls per minute played on the team. A lot of that is attributable to his physical style of play (which I love), and we know WCC officials can sometimes call ticky-tack fouls, but he also sometimes commits those frustration fouls. If he manage the fouls issue, then I’d love to see him increase his minutes played dramatically. Coach might keep him out of starting lineup and use him as a high-minute six man to inject energy when the starters are flat, not sure. Either way, more time on the floor is in his future, in my opinion.


your gut observation on foul rate is fairly accurate…Cam was 2nd highest in fouls / 40 mins at 5.6. Kosy was slightly higher at 5.9 but in fewer mins (smaller sample size). Holt 3rd adn slightly less than Cam at 5.3, followed by Tilly (4.7) and Bediako (4.5).

I’m all for aggressiveness, but all players need to use their fouls wisely. For bigs…fighting for rebound position, challenging offensive players at the rim to block a shot and prevent a layup are examples of OK fouls.
Moving screens 25ft from the basket, over the back calls when you have been effectively blocked out with nearly zero chance of securing the rebounding without fouling, barreling through a defender who is clearly set and in position to draw a charge are wasted fouls, help the opposing team, put them in the bonus and double bonus sooner and potentially force you off the court due to foul trouble.

Cam has the advantage of not really having any other similar body or skillset on the team, as well. He’s faster and more athletic than Tilly and Caffaro; bigger and stronger than O’Neil; more experienced than McEldon. Bryan, I would guess, is quicker but not as big, and I doubt he gets much play in the post.

There are things that Cam provides that no one else on the team can and that should translate to plenty of minutes.


I love Cam, am glad he stuck around and I think he has a better than 50/50 chance of starting and I hope he does. I advocated for more PT for him even early in his Freshman season when he was still figuring things out and his play was fairly inconsistent. The hustle/effort/physical play are obvious. But from the get go, it was clear to me that he had physical gifts that our other bigs the past two years didn’t posses allowing him to make certain plays that others can’t.

But as is probably clear, I take a more clinical view of these things and objectively it’s hard for me to say with certainty that Cam will start. I think his main competition is O’Neil to secure the starting spot at the 4. I think Tilly is likely locked in at the 5. Very slight chance you see starting 4/5 group of Cafaro at the 5 and Tilly at the 4; likewise possible but unlikely we see O’Neil start at the 5 with Cam as the 4. I know you’ve mentioned over the past year and effort by Cam and staff to prep him to be able to play the 3 more including work on his 3pt shooting. But I prefer to see guys play their most ideal or best-fit position and IMO that is at the 4 for Cam regardless of whether his 3pt shooting improves or not. If we were thin on options at the 3 spot I might feel different but that’s not the case. Marshall, Adama Bal and Tyeree Bryan are all 6-6 or 6-7 and are candidates to play the 3 and true wings IMO and have more of the guard-like (ball handling, passing) and perimeter skills most coaches prefer to see on the wing. Kosy and Ensminger are also candidates at the 3 but I suspect they are behind the other three mentioned. My best guess at this stage is that the starters at the 2 and 3 spots will come from that group Marshall/Bal/Bryan.
We’ll see…as mentioned there is less certainty re: starters, roles, PT, etc. at this time of year than I can remember and thus I have far less confidence in my read on things.


Six man I can live with - with lots of minutes. His AAU coach purposefully used Cam as 6th man to entirely change the energy of the game. As for the frustration fouls he has def improved from Freshman to Sophomore. But there were calls so egregious when it comes to Cam that NO JOKE - the refs actually apologized to Herb for having called on Cam. Cam averaged at least one bogus call per game and hopefully we will see that change with the officiating this year. Today they are having Cam work out with the guards. (Interesting) I think Cam will see minutes in the fact he can play both the outside and inside game. Big attribute is his ability to keep up with and guard guards.


Unless the Patriot League has elevated to heights, I am not aware - I think Cam is every bit (maybe even more) ideal a candidate as O’Neil. And yes, I am biased. lol Herb likes a physical guy in the 3 that can body his way in - hence the work on Cam there too.