Macon and Reynolds signed with UNICS, Ponkrashov is in Pari Nizhny, Tompkins joins Zenit. Key signings of July

Macon and Reynolds signed with UNICS, Ponkrashov is in Pari Nizhny, Tompkins joins Zenit. Key signings of July

VTB League teams made a lot of noise in the transfer market in July, significantly strengthening their rosters. Here are the main signings of the second month of summer:

Daryl Macon, guard

Transfer: from Panathinaikos to UNICS
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 13.1 points, 3.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds in the Euroleague

Macon is one of the top signings in the League this offseason. The guard was one of the leaders of last year’s Panathinaikos and proved with his game that he can perform at the highest level in Europe.

Daryl started his career in Dallas, spent 2 years in the NBA after he moved to Europe and quickly switched to European basketball. The guard has stamina and speed, can both control team’s offence and score, as evidenced by the records in the Euroleague: 34 points against the current champion Anadolu Efes, 11 assists in the game with the defensive Alba. Defending against Macon is extremely difficult, and inviting the American to the team, Velimir Perasovic probably counts on him as the offensive leader of his rebuilt team.

Trey Tompkins, forward

Transfer: from Real Madrid to Zenit
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 5.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in the Euroleague

The fact that Zenit is showing interest to the American forward was known last season. And as soon as Real Madrid parted with Tompkins, the St. Petersburg team took advantage of the moment and signed him – despite the fact that Anadolu Efes was also targeting the player.

The 32-year-old forward is already familiar to the fans as he was part of Nizhny Novgorod: he helped NN to make noise in the Euroleague in the club’s debut 2014/15 season. Trey scored 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds, and it is not surprising that the following year he moved to Real Madrid, where he had played for 7 seasons.

Last season, the forward did not play so much anymore, having lost the confidence of the coaching staff. And the transfer to Zenit should help Tompkins to restart because in the St. Petersburg team he will certainly be in the first roles. And Trey was pleased with the opportunity to work with Zenit head coach: “I am very happy that after so many years I will finally be able to play for Xavi Pascual, and not against him. I know that he is a master, so I am ready to learn from him and win together with my new team.”

Anton Ponkrashov, guard

Transfer: from Avaran Nazm to Pari Nizhny Novgorod
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in the Iranian League

Ponkrashov is one of the most experienced players in the history of the VTB League, and Pari NN has already become the 8th team in his career – he is the record holder of the League (along with Evgeny Voronov, who joined MBA).

After a year in Khimki, the guard unexpectedly moved to Iran, where he showed his best stats. Anton is now returning to Russia and will try to help Zoran Lukic in solving problems. It won’t be easy because this summer Nizhny Novgorod lost a bunch of leaders – Astapkovich, Toropov, Mikhail Kulagin, Antipov.

Nevertheless, Ponkrashov has enough experience and skills to take the lead of Nizhny Novgorod offence and help his new team to achieve the necessary result.

Marcos Knight, guard

Transfer: from LDLC ASVEL to Samara
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in the Euroleague

In the first 2 months of summer, the newcomer of the League had not the most active off-season: after the news of dealing with Sergey Bazarevich as the head coach, the Samara team signed Ivan Lazarev and invited Gafurov and Umrikhin from CSKA.

But in the last week of July, Samara announced the signing of Marcos Knight, a 32–year-old guard who played in the Euroleague for ASVEL the previous season. And, he was far from the last player in the team: in more than half of his games he was in the starting-5 and spent more than 22 minutes on the floor. The best game of the season was the February game against Anadolu Efes, where Knight got a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Despite his not very tall height (188 cm), Marcos is still not a playmaker, but rather a guard aimed at scoring points. And in Samara he will be able to demonstrate his best skills because he is the strongest player of his team at the moment, at least until Samara revealed all their cards.

Marcos Knight is France League champion, the EuroCup champion and the MVP of the German League  Final. Will he become the best player in the history of Samara? We will see it in the next season.

Livio Jean-Charles, forward

Transfer: from Olympiacos to CSKA
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in the Euroleague

CSKA does not change and invites players with a lot of experience. The French forward was selected by San Antonio with the 28th pick in the 2013 NBA-Draft, but did not play in the NBA due to a knee injury. Nevertheless, he played in the G League for San Antonio farm team for 2 seasons and then he returned to Europe and played 1 season for ASVEL.

But in the summer of 2020 he moved to Olympiacos, where he spent 2 years and played in the Euroleague Final Four in 2022. CSKA head coach Emil Rajkovic described the 28-year-old forward’s skills:

“Livio has an experience of playing in EuroLeague with Olympiakos in the past two seasons and with ASVEL in the year before that. He is a dynamic, athletic big man that can cover positions 5 and 4. He is versatile offensively as he can roll fast and finish above the rim, but also can knock down open shots from 3-point range. Livio is a very good defensive player that can guard “bigs” inside the paint but also guards on the perimeter. I think that he will fit well in our system and will become one more important part of our team.”

Jalen Reynolds, center

Transfer: from Maccabi Tel Aviv to UNICS
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in the Euroleague

Jalen is another fairly well–known player in the VTB League who returns after a short absence. The center was an important element of Zenit system in the 2018/19 season – then the St. Petersburg team reached the semifinals and battled with CSKA.

After that, Reynolds played in China, Israel and Germany. He spent the 2021/22 season in Maccabi, where he reached the Euroleague playoffs. During 2 years out of the VTB League, Jalen’s playing style has not changed – he is still the same athletic bigman who likes to act not only effectively but also spectacular with powerful dunks. If the center will make a duo with Daryl Macon, then this can become the most effective duo in the League along with Shved-Milutinov.

Dragan Apic, forward

Transfer: from Zielona Gura to Pari Nizhny Novgorod
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in the VTB United League

Zoran Lukic likes to look for (and find) the bigman from Serbia – almost every season after his return to the club, a forward or center from this country played in Pari NN. Stevan Jelovac set the League record for performance (49 points against Kalev), Nikola Dragicevic was the offensive leader in the 2018/19 season, and last season Nikola Jovanovic tried his best in Nizhny Novgorod.

In the new season, Dragan Apic who was known for his performances for Loko and Zielona Gora, will be playing in NN. And if in Loko the Serb was young and promising, then in the Gora he showed his best in his career. Zoran Lukic is also counting on this. Apic will significantly help in the paint and will help in rebounds, which is especially important after Sergey Toropov’s departure to Zenit.

Yauheni Beliankou, forward

Transfer: from MINSK to Enisey
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 13.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in the VTB United League

It is not so often that Belarusian players move from Minsk to another League team. The last player was Vitaly Liutych, who after a season in Kalev moved to Enisey.

However, Beliankou deserved his chance. The 27-year-old forward gradually revealed in Tsmoki-Minsk (now – MINSK) and in the 2021/22 season became objectively the best Belarussian player in the roster, while having the best stats in his career.

Beliankou will certainly be comfortable in Enisey. First, he will be able to focus on defending and shooting from the perimeter. Secondly, Angelo Warner who also played in Tsmoki last season, moved to Ensiey with him. For the forward, playing in Enisey will be a challenge and a test of his abilities – he has never played outside Belarus before, except for a short trip to the 2nd Greece division.

Angelo Warner, guard

Transfer: from Sopot to Eniesy
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 9.6 points, 6.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds in the Polish League

In fact, Warner started the season in Minsk, where he averaged 14.1 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds. But in February he moved to Poland and almost took Sopot to the playoffs – the team was literally one win away from the 8th place.

The best description of Warner was given by Drazen Anzulovic: “Angelo is a player who will add quality to our team. Naturally, we expect that his contribution to the team’s game as a foreign player will be one of the most important.”

There is no arguing that Anzulovic understands players: after the game in Krasnoyarsk, Casper Ware moved to CSKA and became one of the leaders of the Army team in the 2022 playoffs.

Bryson Allen, guard

Transfer: from Hapoel Eilat to PARMA-PARI
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 15.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.4 rebounds in the Israel League

Allen is a fairly experienced guard. For 8 years of his career, he played in Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, Israel, tried his best in the NBA Summer League for Philadelphia.

Evgeny Pashutin chose him for a reason – the American guard is well suited to Pashutin’s system. Allen will be able to play both a point guard and and shooting guard, knows how to beat an opponent 1-on-1 and most importantly feels comfortable enough in the clutch.

Louis Labery, forward

Transfer: from Valencia to UNICS
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in the EuroCup

UNICS became perhaps the most active team in the transfer market in July and Labery is a serious strengthening of UNICS front court. The French spent 4 years in Valencia and was an important player in the roster.

Louis is a power forward, but he can also play center. Labery is an athletic player and UNICS coaching staff has already noted his energy and dedication. The forward also has experience playing for his country’s national team – as part of the French national team, he won bronze medals at the World Cup in Beijing in 2019.

By the way, Labery is the first French in the history of UNICS.

Mark Tikhonenko, forward

Transfer: from Astana to MBA
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 7.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in the VTB United League

“If someone thinks that someone put me here, so be it,” Mark said in an interview this summer. Probably, it was about people who believed that he got a contract in Astana a year ago due to his father, the General Manager of the club Valery Tikhonenko.

The Kazakh team became the first in the pro career of the Russian forward, and we can say that the season was successful. In the first game for Astana, Tikhonenko scored 3 three-pointers, got 6 rebounds and helped the team sensationally beat Zenit on the road. With to his game, Mark was invited to the training camp of the Russian national team, and in the summer he chose MBA as a continuation of his career. The Moscow team will play the first season in the VTB League and this is a great opportunity for him to get playing time and prove as a strong and promising player.

Anton Kvitkovskikh, forward

In recent years, Nikita Mikhailovskii was considered as the main talent in Saratov. But while the basketball community was following the development of the defender’s career, another young Russian basketball player was revealed in Avtodor.

Anton Kvitkovskikh progressed from season to season and spent the 2021/22 season at a good level. He had a solid 20 minutes in Emil Rajkovic team – despite the fact that Avtodor with 6 legionnaires started 2022 as the leader of the standings. And after the departure of foreigners, the 21-year-old forward improved his performance and set a career high in points, scoring 19 points in the second quarterfinal game against UNICS.

Now Kvitkovskikh is moving to Loko, where they also know how to work with young players. In the Krasnodar team, everything will depend solely on Anton’s performance and desire.

Artem Zabelin, center

Transfer: from PARMA-PARI to UNICS
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 10.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in the VTB United League

Zabelin returned to PARMA-PARI a year ago to spend one of the best seasons in the League at the age of 33. The center was useful not only under the rim but also on the perimeter and after a successful year in Perm, he received a 1-year contract in UNICS.

Jalen Reynolds should still become the main bigman, but Artem will get his minutes. Which is not bad, considering Zabelin age and the fact that next season UNICS plans to compete for win the VTB League.

Artem Klimenko, center

Transfer: from UNICS to Zenit
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in the VTB United League

Klimenko was UNICS player for 4 seasons, but he never managed to repeat his best from Avtodor times.

Perhaps it will be possible to do this with Xavi Pascual as the head coach – after all, the Russian center is only 28 years old. Klimenko has time to open up and help his new club defend the title. Artem has already demonstrated that he can see open teammates and with his size he knows how to set the screens, playing high-quality pics and rolls with his teammates.

Kirill Sitnik, guard

Transfer: from Runa to MINSK
Stats in the 2021/22 season: 4.5 points in the SuperLeague-1

This will not be his first appearance in this team – the guard played for Tsmoki in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, but failed to prove himself and during the second year moved to Vostok-65.

But in the SuperLeague-1 Kirill proved to be a strong scorer. He started the 2021/22 season at Dynamo Vladivostok, where he scored 14.4 points, and just before the playoffs he joined Runa. Together with the Moscow team, he reached the Finals and got the 2nd place of the SuperLeague-1.