Usman Garuba Scouting Report


  • Six-foot-eight big man viewed as the next teenage phenom coming out of Europe;
  • Currently the second-ranked prospect with European ties, among those born in 2002[1];
  • Turned 17 in March[2];
  • As previously written about, played a key role in the dominant year Real Madrid’s junior squad had last season;
  • Madrid native who has already logged 71 minutes with Real Madrid’s senior team in the Spanish ACB so far this season;
  • Played a key role in the Spanish National Team’s title-winning campaign at the U18 European Championships in Volos;
    • Statistical profile in that event: 33.2 PER, 22.5 points per 40 minutes on 21.1 live-ball attempts per 40 minutes and 4.8 foul shots per 40 minutes, 48% effective shooting on 28.4% usage rate, 31.2% defensive rebounding rate, 17.1% offensive rebounding rate, 16.3% assist rate, 3.1 blocks per 40 minutes, 2.3 steals per 40 minutes in 193 minutes[3];
  • Got quite a lot of his offense from the low post but also a fair amount as the roller in pick-and-roll, impressing with the versatility of his screening at such a young age;
    • Spaced out to the three-point line only on occasion and has a shooting stroke that seems viable, but the ball doesn’t go in yet;
  • Was asked to venture above the foul line in pick-and-roll defense and proved himself capable of impacting the ball handler in a multitude of ways: contesting pull-ups effectively, playing with active hands to go for strips on the ball, stopping the ball on dropbacks and switching on occasion;
    • Exceled as a help defender and dominated the defensive glass too;
    • Ranked second in the tournament in defensive rating.


  • Has a fairly diverse arsenal of moves operating with his back to the basket for someone his age;
    • Has a 229-pound frame[4] to set a deep seal consistently within his age group;
    • Can create separation with a couple of bumps, has good coordination and shows nice touch on hiked-leg turnaround fadeaway jumpers off the defender’s right shoulder;
    • Unleashed some power moves to back his way into short toss-ins against opponents too overwhelmed by his size and physicality;
    • Showed some enticing footwork and dexterity while drop-stepping into shot-fakes or head-fakes to get his defender out of position;
    • Flashed decent feel for double teams coming off the blindside and has the court vision to hit shooters drifting around the opposite wing;
    • Prone to moving his pivot foot quite a bit and struggles with the touch in his deliveries at times – averaged 3.5 turnovers per 40 minutes in Volos;
  • Very good screener for someone his age;
    • Widens his stance to draw contact in an attempt to disrupt the on-ball defender and free up the ball-handler;
    • Re-screens;
    • Mixes in slip-screens against opponents overcommitting on blitzes or hard hedges;
    • Hustles as a weakside screener, setting moving picks to free up shooters sprinting around the side of the floor;
  • Showed some versatility as a rim roller as well, proving himself capable of scoring on more than just basic catch-and-finish’s, but struggled with his efficiency and his tendency of turning the ball over;
    • Can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense;
    • Has good hands to catch the ball on the move diving down the middle and can go up powerfully off two feet with a little bit of room to load up but struggled with his touch on non-dunk finishes;
    • Flashed an impressive combination of body control, coordination and agility handling traffic between him and the basket –rolling into quick post-ups, rolling into spin moves and passing out of short rolls;
    • Has enough of a handle and coordination to catch the ball around the foul line area and go around slower defenders on straight line drives;
    • Showed glimpses of advanced footwork on drives in traffic, euro-stepping and spinning into shot-fakes or head-fakes, but struggled a little bit to play through contact and was prone to having the ball stripped of him in a crowd;
    • Showcased a right-handed scoop finish to score with a rim protector parked between him and the goal but didn’t show enough body flexibility to complete reverses or explosiveness elevating off one foot with the ball in tow and generally struggled with his touch on non-dunk finishes;
    • Posted a disappointing 22.5% free throw rate for someone who got up as many shots as he did, most of them within close range;
  • Active and effective in the offensive glass;
    • Worked to get inside position;
    • Had a very clear edge in quickness reacting to the ball off the rim and going up off the ground within his age group;
  • Spaced out to the perimeter only on occasion, taking just eight three-point shots in 193 minutes in Volos;
    • Shooting stroke seems viable, though he needs to be wide open to get through his motion;
    • Fully extends himself for a high release and tends to get a decent arc on his shot;
    • Questionable if he has the touch to be expected to develop into a more real floor-spacer in the near future – missed 52.2% of his 23 free throws in the tournament;
  • Has enough ball skills and coordination to grab-and-go off a defensive rebound and take it end-to-end on a slow break if left unchallenged, even flashing some dexterity on drop-offs.


  • Was asked to extend pick-and-roll coverage above the foul line on hard shows and proved himself capable of disrupting it in different ways;
    • Bends his knees to get down in a stance;
    • Nimble, coordinated and agile moving sideways and backpedaling fluidly to stop the ball out in space;
    • Played with active hands going for strips on the ball;
    • Leveraged his length into getting deflections and picking up steals challenging feeds to the roll man;
    • Can keep pace with smaller players on straight line drives and block shots defending on the ball;
    • Picked up smaller players on switches from time-to-time and had the lateral quickness to stay in front of these players out on an island;
  • Excelled as a help defender as well;
    • Plays with good activity and intensity coming across the lane on longer rotations;
    • Attentive to his responsibilities stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense;
    • Flashed very good awareness making preemptive rotations that intimidated the ball handler from driving to the rim;
    • Despite good energy, constant involvement in contact plays and making common teenage mistakes such as biting on shot fakes from time-to-time, was not foul prone – averaged just 2.5 personal fouls per 40 minutes;
  • Dominated the defensive glass with physical boxouts and quickness chasing the ball off the rim – ranking third in the tournament in defensive rebounding rate;
  • Played surprisingly soft post defense but was still effective guarding with his arms up near the basket, which discouraged some opponents from trying to finish over him;
  • Played very poor weakside defense on the perimeter, either not closing out at all or getting blown by on half-assed closeouts.

[1] According to Eurospects

[2] DOB: 3/9/2002

[3] According to RealGM

[4] According to Real Madrid’s website

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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