A lot of great players shined in the 7DAYS EuroCup before they became Turkish Airlines EuroLeague greats. The list includes former EuroLeague MVPs Vassilis Spanoulis, Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo. Some others played in the EuroLeague but became EuroCup stars before returning to the competition, including the likes of Igor Rakocevic, Felipe Reyes and Nick Calathes. Here is a list of 10 players who starred in the EuroCup last season and are expected to have a big impact in the EuroLeague this season!
10. Zanis Peiners, Darussafaka Istanbul
Peiners comes off a breakout season with Lietkabelis Panevezys during which he proved he was ready to play against the top talents on the continent. He led his team in rebounding (5.1 rpg.), was second in scoring (12.8 ppg.) and third in assists (2.6 apg.), while posting the regular season’s 12th-best performance index rating (17.7). Peiners’s versatility allowed him to bang in the paint and shoot from behind the arc and those same skills will be put to use this season in the EuroLeague.
9. Ondrej Balvin, Herbalife Gran Canaria
Balvin is a EuroCup veteran ready to make his EuroLeague debut. He is a big (2.17 meters), athletic center in the prime of his career who dunks as often as possible and runs the floor well for a player his size. Last season, Balvin was the third-best rebounder in the EuroCup (7.3 rpg.) and was named to the All-EuroCup Second Team for the first time in his career. A late bloomer, Balvin reaches the EuroLeague with the self-confidence and skills to make some noise right away.
8. Klemen Prepelic, Real Madrid
He played the EuroLeague before, but Prepelic returns to the competition after four strong EuroCup seasons – most recently with French side Levallois Metropolitans, in which he established himself as one of the best scorers in the competition. A sharpshooter with unlimited range, Prepelic is a perfect complement for Jaycee Carroll and Sergio Llull. He will make sure that Madrid has a three-point threat on court at all times. Prepelic, who is also an excellent slasher, is experienced and ready for the biggest challenge of his career.
7. Nikola Ivanovic, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica
Ivanovic played a vital role in the turnaround for Buducnost, which reached the EuroCup Quarterfinals after going winless the previous season. As the team’s sixth man, Ivanovic led the team in scoring (13.4 ppg.) and was second in assists (3.3 apg.). An All-EuroCup Second Team selection last season, Ivanovic should play a key role once again for Buducnost. After five seasons in the EuroCup, it seems to be the right time for the 24-year-old Ivanovic to test his skills against the best guards in Europe.
6. Shavon Shields, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz
After just one season in the EuroCup with Dolomiti Energia Trento, Shields already drew enough attention to make the big jump into the EuroLeague. An old-school forward, Shields is a deadly two-point shooter, who can create his own opportunities and gets to the basket with great efficiency. He can score in many ways and is an outstanding defender by making the most of his size and aggressiveness at both ends. The son of an American football Hall of Famer, the young and talented Shields has the winning character needed to be appreciated at Baskonia.
5. Jaka Blazic, FC Barcelona Lassa
It was an exciting year for Blazic, who was a member of Slovenia’s EuroBasket 2017 title-winning squad and then put his scoring talents on display in the EuroCup, where he led MoraBanc Andorra in scoring with 12.0 points per game. This season will actually be Blazic’s seventh in Europe’s premier competition and with his fourth different team. In fact, he should score his 1,000th career EuroLeague point during the season. Blazic, who helped KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz reach the Final Four in 2016, will get his chance to fill the scoring void in Barcelona created by Juan Carlos Navarro’s retirement and he has all the skills to do just so.
4. Stephane Lasme, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
At age 35, Lasme looks younger than ever and is back to the EuroLeague to prove it. He last played the EuroLeague in 2015 but became a dominant force in the EuroCup. He won the competition and claimed Finals MVP honors with Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul in 2016 and recorded the most blocks (47) in a EuroCup season with UNICS Kazan last year. Lasme was named the 2012-13 EuroLeague Best Defender in the first of his two seasons playing for the Greens. He can be counted to give the team intimidation and timing on defense, as well as experience and effectiveness on offense.
3. Amedeo Della Valle, AX Armani Exchange Milan
Della Valle comes off a huge EuroCup season with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia, in which he was second in the competition in scoring (17.5 ppg.) and PIR (20.2 per game) as he led the team to the semifinals. A tall playmaker with great poise and determination, Della Valle can hit the outside jumper off the dribble, gets to the foul line very often with great effectiveness (86.8% FT) and his three seasons in the EuroCup have prepared him to move to Milan and his country’s EuroLeague signature club.
2. Devin Booker, FC Bayern Munich
One of the best big men in European basketball is set to make his EuroLeague debut. In just two years, Booker has emerged as a force to be reckoned with and last season was chosen to the All-EuroCup First Team. A great athlete whose explosive dunks have become staples of all highlight reels, Booker is also a good shooter, a ferocious offensive rebounder and a winner who never gives up. After leading Bayern to the German League and Cup double last season, Booker wants to prove himself as one of the best big men in the EuroLeague.
1. Scottie Wilbekin, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Last season’s EuroCup was a one-man show like never before. Playing for Darussafaka Istanbul, Wilbekin earned EuroCup Regular Season MVP honors and continued to shine en route to capturing the full season MVP trophy. He scored 41 points in Game 2 of the semifinals and led the competition in scoring (19.7 ppg.) and PIR (21.3). He averaged 26 points and a PIR of 26.5 in the EuroCup Finals, including an incredible triple that forced overtime in Game 1. Wilbekin left the EuroLeague as a role player and returns as a potential superstar.