Aris BC forward Aleksandar Vezenkov withdrew from the 2015 NBA draft despite getting graded around the late first round on some boards. BallinEurope’s Emmet Ryan spoke with Bulgarian journalist Maria Mitsova to get the take from his homeland
Aleksandar Vezenkov has been the highest profile name to withdraw from the NBA draft this year. Vezenkov, currently with Aris of the Greek League had been garnering plenty of interest after impressing at the FIBA Europe Under 20 championships with the Bulgarian national team last summer and logging significant minutes in one of Europe’s better leagues this year.
BallinEurope: Were you surprised Alexander Vezenkov withdrew from the draft?
Maria Mitsova: I would have said it was 50/50 chance. I am now used to him and people around him taking last minute decisions.
BiE: What will he gain from an extra year in Europe?
MM: He has still some good work to do, as it goes for footwork and some details. But mostly, he will gain experience in a major team, of course, if one of these rumours happens to be true, and he ends up for lets say, Barcelona. He is a big time player on a smaller team now, and experience and confidence will be keys, once he goes to NBA.
BiE: Has Vezenkov got a high profile in Bulgaria?
MM: Most definitely. No one here doubts he is the best player of the generation and the best Bulgarian player as of this moment, in general.
BiE: Are you confident he will go higher in the draft when he eventually declares?
MM: This of course will depend on the season he has in his new team. Or, if he stays in Aris, of his individual performances.
A move to a big club, any move, carries with it factors that will be critical to observers of future NBA drafts. A club like Barcelona, for example, has proven challenging for young players with draft potential to get significant minutes. Mario Hezonja got few minutes under Xavi Pascual than may have been expected while Marc Garcia had to go out on loan to Manresa to merit significant playing time. Other clubs could well prove more palatable should Vezenkov seek to improve his draft stock. Furthermore there is the small matter of his release if and when he is drafted as Vezenkov will almost certainly end up in a position where a buy-out is in play and that too could impact how long after being drafted he actually makes the jump.