The basketball factory that is Partizan NIS Belgrade has its second Euroleague Rising Star Trophy winner, 21-year-old guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has been voted the best young performer of the 2013-14 season by Turkish Airlines Euroleague head coaches. Bogdanovic excelled in his first season as a Euroleague starter, ranking among the league leaders in scoring and steals while also leading his team in assists and three-pointers made. The Rising Star Trophy recognizes the best Euroleague player each season who was under the age of 22 on July 1 of the summer before the season started. After becoming a full-time contributor with Partizan a year ago, Bogdanovic made the transformation into a true Euroleague star already in his second full season in the competition.
He stood out as one of the most prolific scorers in the competition, while becoming the youngest player this century to make at least 50 three-point shots in a single Euroleague season. Along the way, Bogdanovic not only grasped a leadership role on the youngest Euroleague squad, but his performances led Partizan into the Top 16 for the first time in three years. Even more impressive, Bogdanovic needed to change his role midway through the regular season, moving from shooting guard to point guard on an injury-plagued team. Nonetheless, he finished the season as the fifth-best scorer in the league with 14.78 points per game, ranked third with an average of 2.17 three-point shots made, fourth in steals (1.57 spg.), fifth in minutes played (31:26), and eighth in fouls drawn (4 per game). Those numbers made a very solid case for Euroleague head coaches to vote Bogdanovic as the winner of the 2013-14 Rising Star Trophy.
Bogdanovic joins 2009 winner Novica Velickovic as the second Partizan player to win the award. Nikola Pekovic, also with Partizan, was the runner-up in 2008. Another Partizan player, Joffrey Lauvergne, finished third in this season's voting, following Alex Abrines of FC Barcelona, the runner-up to Bogdanovic. The Rising Star Trophy is one of several end-of-season honors awarded by Euroleague Basketball. Earlier in the week, EA7 Emporio Armani Milan swingman Keith Langford was announced as the recipient of the 2013-14 Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy and Olympiacos Piraeus big man Bryant Dunston voted by the head coaches as the 2013-14 Best Defender Trophy winner. Still to be revealed are the All-Euroleague honorees. The bwin MVP award will be announced at the EFES Euroleague Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 15 during the Final Four in Milan. The Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy and the Euroleague Club Executive of the Year are post-season awards.
Although his impact is even bigger than his statistical achievements, the numbers Bogdanovic put up through the season speak loudly of his role with the Serbian powerhouse. Bogdanovic led Partizan in scoring, assists (3.7 apg.), three-pointers made and fouls drawn. He was second in steals, fourth in rebounds (3.7 rpg), and accumulated the second-most minutes on the team. He started his season coming off the bench after a busy summer in which Bogdanovic successfully made his EuroBasket debut with the Serbian national team. But by Round 5 of the regular season, he assumed the role of a starter, and by scoring 13 points against CSKA Moscow, Bogdanovic started a streak of 14 consecutive games with double figures in points, a streak that had many highlights. He followed that performance in Moscow by netting 24 against FC Barcelona, before going all out in a must-win Round 8 clash against Budivelnik Kiev. Bogdanovic took over that game for 15 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals in a 76-61 victory. There was no stopping Bogdanovic then; he soon scored 22 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting as Partizan shocked Fenerbahce Ulker on the road, paving its way into the Top 16. The bigger stage proved the perfect size for Bogdanovic, whose career-night came in Top 16 Round 3 in a come-from-behind win over CSKA, when he scored 27 points to lift Partizan to its first Top 16 win of the season. He took the scoring lead in the Top 16, and kept it for the first eight weeks by virtue of scoring 23 or more points in four games. In that span, he also had four games with at least 5 assists, and four more with at least 6 rebounds, before a knee injury in Round 8 sidelined him and slowed his form.
Bogdanovic joins a select list of former Euroleague Rising Star Trophy winners. Barcelona Regal big man Erazem Lorbek, then of Climamio Bologna, was the inaugural Rising Star recipient in 2005, followed by Andrea Bargnani with Benetton Treviso in 2006. Rudy Fernandez, now with Real Madrid, collected the trophy in 2007 with DKV Joventut, before Danilo Gallinari of Armani Jeans Milano won the award in 2008. The aforementioned Novica Velickovic was the 2009 winner, and the following year it was Ricky Rubio of Barcelona. Madrid’s Nikola Mirotic is the lone two-time winner, with awards in 2011 and 2012, and Kostas Papanikolaou, then with Olympiacos, received the Rising Star Trophy last season.