Just being called to join a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team is an accomplishment in any player’s career. And every season, a new crop of mostly young players get that first opportunity to show what they can do on the biggest stage before a world-wide audience. Any number of them can help their teams, but here are 10 to keep an eye on because they could beat the odds and make an instant impact in the top competition on the continent. Check ‘em out!
10. Albert Oliver, Herbalife Gran Canaria
Set to become the oldest rookie in competition history, Oliver enters his sixth season with Gran Canaria and his steady hand at the point guard position has been a major reason the club has been such a dominant force in the 7DAYS EuroCup over that span. Though he generally comes off the bench, Oliver’s leadership and experience make those around him better and his on-court skills can take opposing teams apart. Oliver is one of the best free-throw shooters in EuroCup history and in close games having the ball in his hands can be a major advantage for a team that is making a EuroLeague debut.
9. Artem Pustovyi, FC Barcelona Lassa
Artem Pustovyi and his 2.16 meters of height will be learning and playing behind another great EuroLeague center in Ante Tomic and will have two other veteran big men, Chris Singleton and Kevin Seraphin, in front of him as well. However, among 26-year old’s many strengths is that he is not afraid to attack the rim and slam it home and that he also possesses a nice touch from mid-range. Last season he was ninth in the Spanish League with 6.0 rebounds and second with 1.9 blocks per game. About to embark on his journey in the competition, Pustovyi has the tools to become the next great big man in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
8. Robin Amaize, FC Bayern Munich
One of only four summer additions that FC Bayern Munich made to the squad that won the German League and Cup double last season and the youngest one at 24 years of age, Robin Amaize is poised to show off his potential on the continent’s biggest stage. Considered one of Germany’s top talents, Amaize will be fighting for playing time in a deep backcourt that features EuroLeague veterans Stefan Jovic, Maodo Lo, Petteri Koponen and Nihad Djedovic. If preseason is any indication, Amaize could be thrown into the thick of things sooner rather than later.
7. Aaron Craft, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica
For its return to the EuroLeague after 15 years, Buducnost turned to a floor general to lead the way. Aaron Craft boasts court vision and stellar perimeter defense that should make him the perfect fit for the team’s system. Craft is a patient pass-first point guard, who gets his teams going and elevate his teammates’ energy with undying hustle and exceptional toughness. He could be a great change-of-pace playmaker alongside Edwin Jackson and a compliment to backcourt mates Nikola Ivanovic and Nemanja Gordic, giving Coach Aleksandar Dzikic a great deal of depth on the perimeter.
6. Angelo Caloiaro, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Lauded for his basketball IQ, Maccabi might have gotten itself a real gem in forward Angelo Caloiaro. A natural stretch four, Caloiaro brings a lot of muscle and a great deal of shooting touch to Maccabi. Standing 2.03 meters tall, he sank 42.7% of his triples and a remarkable 68.3% of two-pointers in the Turkish League last season. A journeyman on European soil, the 28-year old has posted impressive numbers in four different leagues to date and now gets a chance to test himself against the EuroLeague’s elite teams. Caloiaro may be exactly what the doctor ordered for Coach Neven Spanija and the Israeli powerhouse.
5. Jordan Mickey, Khimki Moscow Region
Khimki center Jordan Mickey could become a new highlight-reel darling. Undersized for his position at 2.03 meters, Mickey makes up for the lack of height with athleticism on both ends of the floor. While his offensive strength lies in his game around the rim, defensively Mickey is a great paint protector and a shot-blocking machine who has had a season-average of 3 or more blocks per game already twice in his career. Mickey fits right into the mold of Khimki’s other big men, Anthony Gill and Malcolm Thomas.
4. Thomas Walkup, Zalgiris Kaunas
Zalgiris will try to repeat last season’s sensational performance that got it to the EuroLeague Final Four and guard Thomas Walkup should be a big contributor for Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius. Walkup is a versatile and a very efficient player, who does a little bit of everything and can play all over the court both offensively and defensively. His averages of 11.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the German League last season attest to his all-around contributions. While he is also very physical, Walkup is coming off the best three-point shooting season of his career, making 42% of his long distance shots. Bringing traits of a leader and clutch performer, Walkup is a player to keep an eye on this season.
3. Tyler Ennis, Fenerbahce Istanbul
A lot of eyes will be on new Fenerbahce point guard Tyler Ennis, who will make his European hoops debut under the watchful eye of Coach Zeljko Obradovic. Only 23 years of age, Ennis is a veteran of four seasons in the NBA with as many different teams. He is a capable scorer and a fantastic ball-distributor, who thrives in pick-and-roll situations. Ennis uses his speed to push the ball in transition and his penchant for throwing lobs to cutting teammates will be welcome in Istanbul. Although he is a EuroLeague newcomer, he probably learned a thing or two about the best basketball on the Old Continent from his younger brother Dylan, who debuted in the competition with Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade last season.
2. Kyle Kuric, FC Barcelona Lassa
A three-time All-EuroCup Second Team selection, Kuric is one of the best shooters in Europe. He has proved it in the EuroCup for the last four seasons, hitting more three-point shots (174) than anyone else and doing so with a terrific percentage (46.8%). When Kuric gets going, there is no stopping him; he was chosen 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 MVP last season after shining for Zenit St. Petersburg with 22.5 points on 57.1% three-point shooting. Kuric underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor in 2015, but returned to action within five months. His fighting spirit and second-to-none shooting skills make Kuric a great addition to the new-look Barcelona backcourt.
1. Nigel Williams-Goss, Olympiacos Piraeus
The combo guard was the very first addition Olympiacos made after hiring Coach David Blatt over the summer. And probably for a reason. Only 23 years old, Williams-Goss has good court vision and great scoring instinct that allows him to play both guard positions. He is a reliable shooter who knocked down 50% of his triples in the 7DAYS EuroCup last season, but is especially hard to defend off penetration. Williams-Goss has a trademark shot that looks just like Juan Carlos Navarro’s La Bomba, but also often uses his 1.91-meter frame to post up defenders. Possessing skills many playmakers don’t have, while dishing 6.7 assists in the last EuroCup season, Williams-Goss is ready to shine on the biggest of stages.