Over the last two 7DAYS EuroCup seasons, AS Monaco guard Yakuba Ouattara has shocked fans from around the world with his high-flying dunks, even in traffic, and amazing alley-oops finishes. However, Seeing Ouattara only as a great dunker would be a great injustice to his game. At age 28, Ouattara is an all-around guard at the prime of his career who keeps working hard to polish his game. He has expanded his shooting range, gained the confidence to take clutch shots and uses his quick legs, athleticism and blue-collar mentality to be a force on defense. Indeed, Ouattara contributes to his team in many ways and is gaining the only important trait he was missing - experience at the highest level - to become a star.
Ouattara is a very physical player whose great jumping skills and mobility helps him put pressure on his opponents. He is often tasked with guarding the opponent's most dangerous backcourt scorer in most games and Ouattara is always up to the challenge. Aaron Harrison of Galatasaray Doga Sigorta Istanbul averaged 15.9 points in the EuroCup this season, but just 8.5 against Monaco. Jamar Smith of UNICS Kazan (15.2 ppg.) was limited to 2 points in his only game against Ouattara's team. Meanwhile, Ouattara improved his three-point shooting from 36.9% (24 of 65) in his first EuroCup campaign to 44.1% (26 of 59) last season, including shooting 12 of 17 (70.6%) from downtown in the Top 16. By becoming a stronger shooter, Ouattara has multiplied his options to score, since he can also use his quick first step to get past defenders.
The improvements still to come for Ouattara are to be more aggressive in the passing lanes in looking for steals and improving his free throw shooting, which dipped to 64.0% (16 of 25) in this past EuroCup season. Ouattara always brings a lot of energy and effort, helping on the boards (3.1 rpg.) and is at his best when Monaco is running the floor and he has enough space to make the most of his athleticism. With a consistent shot, Ouattara becomes be an elite "three-and-D" player. The way he finished the Top 16, averaging 16.0 points on 10-of-13 three-point shooting plus 3.7 rebounds, showed that Ouattara is ready for bigger challenges. With his blue-collar attitude and one-on-one defensive skills, Ouattara is on his way to becoming a top player at the highest continental level.