By Mike Perez, PA Sport
DKV Joventut coach Aito Garcia Reneses will have a tough job practising what he preaches if teenage prodigy Ricard Rubio continues his remarkable rise to prominence.
Garcia Reneses believes too much praise for Rubio could affect the 15-year-old´s development, but by the same token the DKV chief is more than aware of the potential superstar he has on his hands.
There appear to be few better prospects in the European game.
Having made his debut for DKV as a 14-year-old, Rubio also represented the Catalan club in last year´s EuroCup, which Joventut won.
|Rubio led Spain to U16 gold this summer|
He then took this summer´s U16 European Championship by storm, dominating throughout before peaking in the final when he poured in 51 points, hauled down 24 rebounds and handed out 12 assists to lead Spain to a 110-106 double overtime victory over Russia.
Unsurprisingly he was named the tournament´s Most Valuable Player.
He has also featured in both of DKV´s opening two ACB matches this season, averaging four points, three rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes of action.
Those may not be the best of statistics but Garcia Reneses can see beyond the numbers, and he believes the 1.92m point guard is coming along very well.
"He has very good conditioning. It is not necessary to rush him and his progression," said the coach, who is keen to keep the player grounded.
"The important thing is that those who are around him are conscious that all the praise can be counter-productive and that he has to continue learning.
"He made his debut at 14, and helped us win that game. He has impressed, but the important thing is his future."
DKV veteran Elmer Bennett added: "The first thing that I thought last year was that a boy of 14 playing against men is going to have problems. But no.
He is a very mature worker and his arms are very long and he defends well, which is rare in the young players of today."
Opposing players are also impressed by Rubio.
Unicaja Malaga ace Berni Rodriguez, who helped Spain claim gold at this summer´s FIBA World Championship, said in Marca: "He has enormous arms. He tried to steal the ball from me and when I turned he was already pressing me with the other."
Alex Mumbru, who also went to Japan with Spain, moved back to Real Madrid this summer after leaving DKV.
He also believes Rubio has a bright future, but has warned of the pitfalls facing the teenager.
"He is very good, but he is very young, and I know the case of Oliver Fuentes, who was also incredible and he was lost," Mumbru said.
"Ricky is a very complete player. He can average 10 points, six rebounds and seven steals with ease this year, but it is necessary to proceed with care."