Every season the 7DAYS EuroCup introduces a long list of young, outstanding talents to the basketball world, but only one can capture the Rising Star Trophy at season's end. The only criteria to be eligible for this award is to have been younger than 22 years of age on July 1 of the summer before the season starts. This season, more than 60 such players have competed in the EuroCup of which 15 have played in at least eight games so far. From that select group, behold the top three candidates to be selected as the 2010 EuroCup Rising Star.
Martynas Echodas, Rytas Vilnius
To date, there has only been one player to win the EuroCup Rising Star Trophy twice and Echodas has a strong case to join Valencia Basket star Bojan Dubljevic as the second. Echodas has averaged 9.4 points on 58.4% and 5.5 rebounds for a performance index rating 12.4 and those numbers took a hit because of an injury suffered in Round 4 of the Top 16 that kept him to 2:36 on the floor. His 2.6 offensive rebounds per game are sixth in the competition and he ranks 14th in the EuroCup in per-minute PIR with 26.3 prorated over 40 minutes. The 23-year-old center started all 13 games he has appeared in this season and leads Rytas in rebounding and blocked shots, is second in PIR and third in scoring. He scored a career-high 26 points in Round 5 of the regular season against Umana Reyer Venice and posted a career-best 14 rebounds in the Top 16 opener against UNICS Kazan.
Killian Hayes, ratiopharm Ulm
Hayes left his native France to take on a leading role with Ulm and he took advantage of his minutes. The playmaker averaged 12.8 points with strong shooting numbers (50% on two-pointers, 39.0% on threes and 90.9% on free throws) plus 6.2 assists and 1.5 steals for a performance index rating of 13.4 per game. He not only leads all Rising-Star eligible players in point, assists, steals and PIR, but ranks third among all players in the EuroCup in assists and is tied for 10th in steals. Hayes started all 10 of Ulm's regular-season games. He came up big in his team's lone win with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals in Round 5 against Maccabi Rishon LeZion. Hayes posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists at Promitheas Patras in Round 8 and scored a personal-best 25 points in the regular-season finale at Rishon.
Nenad Dimitrijevic, Joventut Badalona
Point guard Dimitrijevic has made his debut EuroCup campaign one to remember with strong numbers that have only improved over the course of the season. He is averaging 11.9 points on 64.8% two-point shooting and 86.7% on free throws plus 3.9 assists for a performance index rating of 12.9 games in 14 games, including three in the starting lineup. Dimitrijevic has boosted those numbers to 14.0 points on 73.1% two-point shooting and 4.5 assists for a PIR of 14.5 in the Top 16. His two-point shooting in the Top 16 is sixth overall and his 64.8% for the season is best among point guards. Dimitrijevic, a product of the Joventut youth system, recorded a personal-best 23 points and a PIR of 29 in Round 6 of the regular season in a victory over Nanterre 92.