|Some players are born to be Eurocup superstars, while for others the competition is a stop along the way to successful careers in the Euroleague and elsewhere. Over time, there has been a select group that have produced Eurocup brilliance over just one season and never returned to the shores of the competition again. As we celebrate the first decade of the Eurocup, we salute 10 stars that made sudden impacts in their one and only season in the competition. The list includes Euroleague superstars that played the Eurocup in the prime of their careers to little-known players that set long-lasting records. Here are Eurocupbasketball.com's one-season wonders Top 10:
10- David Hawkins - Virtus Roma, 2005-06
He was virtually unknown and playing in the Italian second division when Coach Svetislav Pesic recruited Hawkins to play alongside Dejan Bodiroga at Virtus Roma. Hawkins, 23 year old in the 2005-06 season, became the leader on a team full of well-rounded veterans. He scored 14 points or more in 12 of his 14 games. Hawkins averaged 18.5 points and 4.1 rebounds to help Roma upset heavily-favored Unics Kazan in the eighthfinals. Hapoel Migdal stopped Roma’s run in the next round, but Hawkins proved his ability and went on to became an important player in European basketball for years to come.
9- Randy Duck - Brighton Bears, 2003-04
Brighton Bears recorded the best results of any British team ever to play the Eurocup by finishing the 2003-04 regular season with a 4-6 record – including road wins over KK Split and Lietuvos Rytas. Its floor general made history too. Randy Duck was the third-best scorer in the 2003-04 regular season with 20.4 points per game and had one performance that has not been matched since. Duck led Brighton to a 112-103 double-overtime win over Cholet Basket in the regular season finale with 49 points, which remains a Eurocup scoring record. It proved to be his last Eurocup game; Brighton never got back to the competition and Duck retired at the end of that season.
8- Jonas Valanciunas, Lietuvos Rytas 2011-12
In a full decade of Eurocup basketball, perhaps no young player has had the impact that Jonas Valanciunas provided last season. Valanciunas became the first Rising Star award winner to be chosen to the All-Eurocup First Team. A top defensive big man, Valanciunas led Lietuvos Rytas to the Eurocup Finals as his team's most important player. At the end of the season, Valanciunas ranked seventh in performance index rating (16.5 per game), fourth in blocks (1.56 bpg.) and second in rebounds (7.6 rpg.). Moreover, he was very effective (63.4% FG, 80% FT) on offense, too.
7 - Chris Anstey - Ural Great, 2002-03
Arguably the most dominant player in the competition's inaugural season, Chris Anstey was Ural Great's leader in the 2002-03 ULEB Cup. Anstey earned MVP honors after averaging 21.4 points, 9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 10 regular season games. He led the regular season in scoring and index ranking (26.3 per game). His 11 offensive rebounds in a game against BCM Gravelines remain an all-time Eurocup record. Behind its star center, Ural Great reached the elimination rounds, but suffered an early exit by losing to Caprabo Lleida in the eighthfinals.
6- Bostjan Nachbar, Dynamo Moscow 2008-09
After seven years away from European competitions, Nachbar landed in Moscow ready to play the 2008-09 Eurocup season right at the prime of his career. Nachbar lived up to the expectations by averaging 16.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 13 games. He led the 2008-09 Eurocup in fouls drawn (6.15 per game) and made 91.2% of his free throw attempts (62 of 68). Nachbar earned All-Eurocup First Team honors and led Dynamo to a perfect record in its Last 16 group. Dynamo, however, was upset by Hemofarm in the quarterfinals, which put a bitter end on Nachbar's outstanding Eurocup season.
5- Maceo Baston - DKV Joventut, 2002-03
Before winning back-to-back Euroleague titles with Maccabi, big man Maceo Baston had the chance to showcase his unbelievable athletic skills and talent in the Eurocup with DKV Joventut Badalona in the competition's debut season, 2002-03. Baston's numbers were remarkable as he ranked third in performance index rating (23.3 per game), second in blocked shots (2.11 bpg.) and fourth in two-point shooting percentage (67.1%) to go with 16.1 points and 6.7 rebounds. Moreover, Baston led Joventut to the semifinals, where the team’s run ended against Krka Movo Mesto.
4- Mirsad Turkcan - Dynamo Moscow, 2004-05
Mirsad Turkcan had just played Euroleague Final Fours with Montepaschi Siena and CSKA when an offer from a rising Dynamo Moscow took him to the Russian capital to play the 2004-05 ULEB Cup. Turkcan lived up to the expectations and posted great numbers - 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and a 23.5 performance index rating. He recorded five double-doubles in 11 games and had double figures in either points or rebounds in every game! Dynamo won its regular season group, but an unexpected loss in its eighthfinals series against Hemofarm eliminated Dynamo earlier than expected. Turkcan returned to the Euroleague and became the competition's all-time rebounder.
3- Brent Wright - BK Ventspils, 2004-05
A blue-collar veteran in European basketball, power forward Brent Wright first took part in European competition with BK Ventspils of Latvia and simply dominated. Wright was the 2004-05 ULEB Cup regular season MVP with 26.8 performance index rating. He made 64% of his two-point shots and 84.5% of free throw attempts to go with rock-solid numbers of 19.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 10 games. Wright led Ventspils all the way to the ULEB Cup quarterfinals, where the team lost against Hemofarm by just 1 point. Wright's season did not go unnoticed and he has enjoyed a long career in European basketball since.
2- Patrick Beverley, Spartak SPB 2011-12
An essential piece to Spartak St. Petersburg's success last season, Patrick Beverley earned Eurocup MVP honors in his only season in the competition. Beverley led Spartak in scoring, assists, steals, fouls drawn and performance index rating in helping the team to go a near-perfect 15-1 from the Qualifying Rounds to the Eurocup Finals. At the end of the season, Beverley was all over the Eurocup individual stats boards, ranking second in index (17.2) and ninth in assists (3.7 apg.), leading the competition in steals (1.94 spg.) and ranking second in fouls drawn (5.6 per game). Spartak lost to Khimki in the semifinals, which denied Beverley the chance to finish an outstanding season as a champion.
1- Marc Gasol, Akasvayu Girona, 2007-08
Marc Gasol saw only limited playing time in the Euroleague with FC Barcelona, but when he joined Akasvayu Girona, everything clicked for him and his team. In his second season in Girona, Gasol led Akasvayu to a dream ULEB Cup season as the team's undeniable leader. His numbers were great (13.6 ppg., 6.1 rpg., 2.5 apg., 1.4 bpg., 19.9 index) but his impact went far beyond that as he made the difference for Akasvayu in nearly every critical game. Gasol led Akasvayu past Elan Chalon and Hemofarm to the Final Eight as an underdog. He had 19 points and a 26 index in the quarterfinal against mighty Unics and was equally effective - 16 points, 6 rebounds - in the semifinals against powerhouse Dynamo Moscow to storm into the title game against DKV Joventut. Gasol was unable to lift the trophy, but with an incredible Eurocup season he proved to everyone that he was a world-class player.