The EuroLeague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament has developed into one of the world's most prestigious stops for future stars in basketball. From 2003 onwards, more and more players have used the ANGT to showcase their talents at a young age and gain experience in international club competition.
One of the first stars to emerge from the ANGT, then known as the International Junior Tournament, was Nikita Kurbanov, who played in the first two editions of the event with U18 CSKA Moscow. He started in one of his three appearances as a 16-year-old in 2003 in Barcelona, where he averaged 8.0 points and 5.7 rebounds. CSKA lost its final regular-season game against U18 Maccabi Tel Aviv and thus missed a chance to reach the championship game.
The following year in Tel Aviv, Kurbanov shined on a stacked CSKA side that won all of its games to take the crown. He averaged 14.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.0 block in Tel Aviv, including a 17-point, 11-rebound and 2-steal effort in a 90-62 rout of U18 Montepaschi Siena in the championship game. It was his second double-double of the weekend after posting 10 points, 13 boards and 3 blocks against U18 Hapoel Jerusalem. Among his teammates then were Anatoly Kashirov, Nikita Shabalkin and Vasily Zavourev, who were all on the CSKA roster when it won the EuroLeague in 2006, as well as future EuroCup champion Valerii Likhodei.
Kurbanov was promoted to the CSKA senior squad for the next season, 2004-05, in which he played limited minutes in 17 games. He cracked the rotation in EuroLeague games in 2005-06. Kurbanov's debut came in Round 3 against Unicaja Malaga and he scored his first points in Round 6 at Ulker Istanbul. His first big game saw Kurbanov score 11 points in 33 minutes in a 71-80 victory at Real Madrid. His defense and never-ending hustle led to Coach Ettore Messina leaning on Kurbanov for 11 minutes in the EuroLeague semifinal victory FC Barcelona in Prague before topping Maccabi for the championship.
He would remain with CSKA through the 2007-08 campaign and then spent half a season with UNICS Kazan and a full one with Spartak St Petersburg. Kurbanov was back with his boyhood club in 2009 and stayed for three seasons before he went searching for a bigger role and moved back to Spartak for one season, UNICS for another and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar for a third. Since his return to CSKA in 2015, he has been a mainstay and a force as it captured EuroLeague championships in 2016 and 2019. Kurbanov has made 49 consecutive starts for CSKA and since 2015 he has missed only two games. His 162 games in that time lead the league and he ranks among the top 25 for the period in both steals (101) and blocked shots (54). In 228 career EuroLeague games, Kurbanov has amassed 1,065 points and 709 rebounds.