The 2018 7DAYS EuroCup champion returns to the competition having spent the summer adding some proven commodities to its own young core. Darussafaka will have loads of experience and leadership in its backcourt after bringing playmakers Joe Ragland, the EuroCup's fourth-best scorer last season and a 2017 EuroCup runner-up, as well as Sinan Guler, who arrives from the continental powerhouse Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and returns to the competition he won in 2016. Shooting guard Doron Lamb, making his second appearance in the competition, and EuroCup rookie forward Bonzie Colson will be strong scoring options, while big men Johnny Hamilton and Jarrod Jones will carry most of the load inside. Darussafaka also added some depth with center Mahir Agva and veteran small forward Erkan Veyseloglu, who returns to the competition for his eighth season with a fourth different Turkish team.
Darussafaka's offense will be in safe hands of two playmaking veterans. Ragland and Guler are both capable scorers who also create plenty for the others, and they will have enough weapons around them. Lamb is a potent scorer and a dangerous shooter who has knocked down better than 44% of his long-range shots in each of the last two seasons. This trio is welcomed by two perimeter players Darussafaka has been developing, 24-year olds Kartal Ozmizrak and Dogus Ozdemiroglu. Both players have seen their roles grow over the past two seasons, and could provide for key depth on the perimeter this team needs.
A huge part of Darussafaka's frontcourt will be Bonzie Colson, a scoring forward who can hurt opposing teams from long range. He will have a key role in protecting the glass, which is another strong suit for Colson. Darussafaka has all the pieces to be a dominant rebounding team with both Hamilton and Jones having the ability to dominate as rebounders. Hamilton should be the anchor in the paint, while Jones's newfound ability to stretch the floor with his shot from behind the arc will give head coach Selcuk Ernak all kinds of options inside. Moreover, Ernak should have plenty of depth behind this trio. The 36-year old Veyseloglu is an easy fit as he has made a career as a role player and makes for another veteran presence in a locker room. That could be very important because the other front court players are all 24 years of age or younger. Center Emircan Kosut and big forward Berk Demir will look to build and expand their roles after showing promise last season, while Agva will provide depth at center, but is also someone who can stretch the floor. A young stretch-four Selim Troy Sav and a homegrown forward Sinan Saglam are set to gain experience.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Veteran big man Jarrod Jones is poised to explode in his third season in the competition. Jones has long been a tremendous rebounder, one who averaged 7.0 or more rebounds per game over five consecutive seasons, including more than 10 rebounds per game in the Italian League three seasons ago. It is interesting that Jones had minimal impact in his EuroCup debut with Szolnoki Olaj in the 2015-16 season, but returned to the competition last season and posted a solid 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for AS Monaco. What Jones showcased last season, however, was an improved ability to play on the perimeter and hurt teams with long-range shots. Jones was flirting with double-doubles almost every time he played more than 25 minutes, and with the expectations that he'll have a larger role this season, big things seem to be in store for the Darussafaka big man.
The last time Darussafaka played in the EuroCup the team went on to lift the title. A lot has changed within the club and on the team in more than a year since then, but as a former competition champion this team will nevertheless be under the spotlight. Darussafaka will ask new arrivals to carry the load, but it is the depth of this roster that could be a key for success. Darussafaka has kept and expanded its group of young, up-and-coming players, and if the likes of Ozdemiroglu, Ozmizrak and Demir continue to improve and grow in their roles as they have been in the past season or two, combined with the experience Darussafaka has in its backcourt, this could turn into a very promising season for the team from Istanbul.