One of the attractions of this first Window of the 2021-22 academic year is Jaime Pradilla (20 years old, 2.05). The power forward from Zaragoza arrives at the Absolute Selection after having climbed all the rungs of the lower categories, having achieved several titles, like golds in European championships achieved U-16 categories, in 2016; and U-18, in 2018. Scariolo has long taken the Valencia Basket player into account but, after seeing the explosion in his level of play in the last month, the coach has called him up for the matches against Macedonia and Georgia.

The exhibition that the power forward gave at the PalaDozza in Bologna, with Scariolo on the rival bench, did not go unnoticed by the Italian. In fact, there he set his record for rebounds (8) and assists (4) in the Eurocup, as well as being the protagonist in the comeback of his team that lost by 21 points and ended up winning the game. “I was lucky that I had a good game and the coach saw me so closely. At that time I was only thinking about going back with my team and not about a possible call from Scariolo but surely this match helped him make the decision“, reflects Pradilla.

The Aragonese arrives at the Guadalajara concentration exultant, in game and numbers. In the Endesa League he scored his top scorer last Saturday (21 points) against Bilbao Basket. And Eurocup is where it is shining even more. Pradilla is the player in the entire competition with the best percentage in shots of two (85.7%) and also in field shots (80%). In addition, he is among the best in the Eurocup in captured offensive rebounds (11), one of his specialties.

At 20 years old, Pradilla has exploded this season. Valencia’s decision to form a roster of only 12 players and the injuries of some of his teammates (Claver, Dubljevic or Tobey) have paved the way. “It is true that the injuries of some teammates have made me play more minutes,” he says. But his main mutation in his game in this course is given by the arrival of Joan Peñarroya to the taronja bench: “Peñarroya it’s getting the best of me. He has empowered me with that competitive mentality that I have. If you are losing, come back; if you are winning by 5, wanting to win by 10; if you go 10, 15; and so…”.

The next Friday will listen, in Macedonia, for the first time the national anthem with the National Team jersey, something that makes him especially excited: “If listening to it with the lower categories is already a tremendous pride, doing it with the Absolute it’s going to be a tremendous adrenaline rush“.

It will be two qualifying games for the 2023 World Cup, but the next challenge for Spain will be the Eurobasket, in September 2022. And in that National Team, despite the fact that the NBA and the Euroleague will already be there, Pradilla wants to make a hole. “These matches they can be a stepping stone. That they see you train and compete here on a daily basis can be important when the coach chooses the players for the Eurobasket “, he concludes.

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