Awards preview: EuroLeague Rising Star

Sep 27, 2021 by Print
Awards preview: EuroLeague Rising Star

The EuroLeague Rising Star Trophy is a coveted one as past winners have gone on to greatness in our game. The list of previous winners includes EuroLeague great such as Luka Doncic, Nikola Mirotic, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Ricky Rubio, among many others. In order to be eligible to win the 2021-22 EuroLeague Rising Star trophy, a player must have been born on July 1, 1999 or later. Here are 10 of the main candidates to join this impressive list of young talents by the end of the 2021-22 season.

Carlos Alocen, Real Madrid

Carlos Alocen comes off a promising EuroLeague rookie season in which he averaged 3.9 points and 2.3 assists in 28 games – and starting 16 of those. Now that he knows the competition a little bit better, Alocen is expected to take another step. An athletic playmaker with outstanding court division and great driving skills, Alocen is a perfect fit for Real's transition, run-and-gun game. At age 20, Alocen has room for improvement. He also has the desire and work ethic to do so and Coach Pablo Laso has confidence in him.

Tarik Biberovic, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

He may be 20, but Tarik Biberovic is set to start his fourth EuroLeague campaign with Fenerbahce. His role has increased over the year and now, with a new coach and several newcomers in the team, it is time for Biberovic to take a giant step forward. Biberovic is a good athlete who knows how to use his quickness and size to finish around the basket, but can also pull the trigger from downtown and is learning from experienced players on daily basis. It is only a matter of time before Biberovic has a breakout season.

Malte Delow, ALBA Berlin

After seeing extended playing time in the pre-season, Malte Delow hopes to become an important player for ALBA in the EuroLeague. At age 20, Delow took part in 23 EuroLeague games last season (1.6 ppg. in 8.3 mpg.) and helped ALBA win its second consecutive German League title. He is aggressive on defense and reads the passing lanes well. If Delow can feed off his defensive intensity and contribute more on offense, it will be only a matter of time until he becomes a key player in ALBA's rotation.

Rokas Jokubaitis, FC Barcelona

After finishing second behind Usman Garuba of Real Madrid in last season's EuroLeague Rising Star voting, Rokas Jokubaitis will have a new role on a different club as he looks to grow even more. Jokubaitis joined FC Barcelona where he will learn at the feet of Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, who he played for at Zalgiris, too. Jokubaitis is a physically gifted combo-guard who handles the ball well, goes hard to the basket and has a good outside shot. With Saras pushing him, Jokubaitis should have a prominent role for the EuroLeague runners-up.

Leftherios Mantzoukas, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens

Leftherios Mantzoukas may be only 18 years old, but he already has four years of professional experience under his belt. He is a product of the Promitheas Patras systema and played in the EuroCup in each of the past two seasons – including a 24-point outburst on 6 for 6 three-point shooting last year against Gran Canaria. The 2.07-meter swingman has the confidence and accuracy in his shooting to carve out a key role already this season – and he will have several more years of candidacy for the Rising Star Trophy, too!

Sergi Martinez, FC Barcelona

Power forward Sergi Martinez did not see much playing time last season but when he did, he showed what he is capable of. He had 7 points and 9 rebounds in 31 minutes against Real Madrid, 10 points and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes against Valencia Basket and also posted a PIR of 11 against CSKA Moscow. Barcelona fans love him because of his fighting spirit: there is not a rebound he does not fight for nor a loose ball he would not dive for. That blue-collar mentality should lead to a bump in playing time.

Filip Petrusev, Anadolu Efes Istanbul

Filip Petrusev was chosen as the Adriatic League MVP last season after posting some big numbers - 23.5 points on excellent shooting percentages (61.6% 2FG, 41.9% 3FG) and 7.6 rebounds in 21 games with Mega Belgrade. He is now set to make his EuroLeague debut with the reigning champs and has already shown in pre-season what he is capable off. Petrusev is a strong big man with great rebounding skills who can score in many ways - in the paint, in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop situations, in transition... Keep an eye on him!

Matthew Strazel, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne

Still a teenager, Matthew Strazel enters his third EuroLeague campaign with 36 games of experience in the competition. He is a great shooter with unlimited range and is never afraid to pull the trigger when ASVEL needs to open the floor. Strazel is slowly but steadily learning to attack the basket, making the most out of his one-on-one skills, and can pass the ball with great effectiveness when double-teamed. On a team full of young talents, Strazel should do his part to make ASVEL a fun-to-watch team!

Tristan Vukcevic, Real Madrid

Last season, Tristan Vukcevic became the first player in more than two decades to make his EuroLeague debut in the playoffs. His father, Dusan Vukcevic, was also a Real Madrid player and played for five more teams in the EuroLeague. They are very different players, however, as Tristan Vukcevic is a stretch power forward with deep shooting range and great mobility. Real has a reputation for developing young talent and Vukcevic should be ready to step up and make the most out of the playing time he earns.

Victor Wembanyama, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne

Victor Wembanyama made quite an impact in limited minutes last season in the 7DAYS EuroCup and will look to handle a bigger role in his EuroLeague debut. The 17-year-old center had 5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 blocks in 17 minutes for Nanterre 92 against Cedevita Union Olimpija – and he was still 16 at the time! Standing 2.20 meters, Wembanyama has incredible size and length, which he combines with quick feet and a shooting touch that extends to the three-point line. His package of skills makes him one of the elite prospects in basketball.