One of the most precocious talents in pro basketball history, Regal FC Barcelona point guard Ricky Rubio, has been the overwhelming choice of Euroleague head coaches to receive the 2010 Rising Star Trophy. Rubio, 19, is the only player to have started all 20 Euroleague games for Barcelona, which became just the second team all decade to finish the Euroleague regular season undefeated. Rubio helped ensure that milestone with a co-MVP of the Week performance in the tenth and last game of the regular season. As Barcelona went on to post the Euroleague's best overall record on the way to its second consecutive Final Four, Rubio was a big part of each accomplishment. He was Barcelona's point man in every sense at both ends of the floor, leading the team in assists, with 4 per game, and steals, with 1.4 on average. He also ranked third among all Euroleague players in each of those categories on a per-minute basis. But if his numbers say plenty, they fall short in conveying the excitement Rubio brings to the game as both a stealer and a passer. His ability to generate highlights without scoring might already be as prodigious as any player in the sport. Euroleague head coaches, seeing both the winner and the entertainer in Rubio, had no doubt about making him the 2010 Rising Star Trophy!
"It's an honor to be chosen for this award, above all when a competition as good as the Euroleague recognizes you," Rubio said in Barcelona on Thursday. "It really makes you proud, but I know that I got it thanks to the help and support of all my teammates. Thanks to them we have arrived to the Final Four and thanks to them we expect to keep going forward."
The six-year old Rising Star Trophy recognizes the best Euroleague player who was under the age of 22 on July 1 of the summer before the season started. Rubio was the Rising Star Trophy runner-up in 2007 when he played for DKV Joventut, placing behind teammate Rudy Fernandez. This time, Rubio won the voting by Euroleague head coaches by almost double the second-place finisher, Jan Vesely of Partizan Belgrade. Sergio Llull of Real Madrid was third, followed by Andrey Vorontsevich of CSKA and Bojan Bogdanovic of Cibona Zagreb. The Rising Star Trophy is one of several end-of-season honors awarded by Euroleague Basketball. Already announced have been the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, which was won by Linas Kleiza of Olympiacos, and the Best Defender Trophy, which went to Viktor Khryapa of CSKA Moscow. Still to be announced are the nominees for the All-Euroleague team. The All-Euroleague first and second teams, plus the Euroleague MVP, will be revealed at the Euroleague Basketball Awards Ceremony on May 8 during the Final Four in Paris. The Aleksander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy and the Euroleague Club Executive of the Year are post-season awards.
From the time he made his Euroleague debut at age 15, Rubio had a sudden impact on the competition due to his advanced defense and fun-to-watch style. His per-minute rate of steals that season was the best of the decade until then. Not long before, Rubio shocked many with his one-of-a-kind performance in the 2006 European Under-16 Championships. He had 51 points, 24 rebounds, 12 assists and 7 steals in the title game against Russia, downing a half-court shot to send the game to overtime. By age 17, Rubio was starting in the 2008 Olympic basketball final, becoming the youngest player to do so, and helping Spain to conquer the silver medal in Beijing. A three-time FIBA Europe Young Men's Player of the Year award winner, Rubio led Spain to gold at EuroBasket 2009 last summer, shortly after joining Regal FC Barcelona. This season Rubio dished 5 or more assists in seven regular season games, recording his first career double-double - 14 points and 10 assists - in a first-place Game 10 showdown against Montepaschi Siena. Rubio did even better in the Quarterfinal Playoffs, stepping up right when his team needed him. He scored a Euroleague career-high 19 points in Game 4 of the playoffs against Real Madrid to help Barcelona win the series 3-1 and earn the chance to play at the Final Four. The ambitious, unselfish and always-smiling Rubio has proved to be determinant without needing to score. Already a ULEB Cup winner with DKV Joventut in 2008, Rubio hopes to go one step higher and lead Barcelona to what would be the club's second Euroleague title at the 2010 Final Four in Paris.
Rubio is the sixth winner of the Rising Star Trophy. Last season the award went to Novica Velickovic of Partizan. Danilo Gallinari of AJ Milano was the winner in 2008. Before him was Rudy Fernandez of DKV Joventut in 2007, Andrea Bargnani of Benetton Treviso in 2006 and Erazem Lorbek, then of Climamio Bologna, in 2005. Rubio will be presented with the Rising Star Trophy at the Euroleague Basketball Awards Ceremony on May 8 in Paris.