Three Estonian basketball players - Maik-Kalev Kotsar, Sander Raieste and Henri Drell - have declared for the 2020 NBA draft. All three would want to play in the league, the future depends on whether they draw interest from NBA franchises.
Martin Müürsepp, the only Estonian to have played in the NBA, was selected with the 25th overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, who then traded him to the Miami Heat. Müürsepp played 83 games in NBA, averaging 4.7 points in 11.5 minutes for Heat and Dallas Mavericks.
Whereas Kotsar finished his four-year college career playing for South Carolina, which means he is automatically eligible for the draft, both Raieste and Drell had to declare their eligibility and did it to test the interest from NBA franchises.
"If you declare yourself, you make your name known to the world and you can see what your realistic possibilities are regarding the NBA. If I didn't declare myself, I couldn't go and train with NBA teams. It has to be done," Drell told ERR.
"A couple of years ago I didn't think I would find myself in a situation where I could declare for the draft. My development during the past few seasons has made it possible to leave my name on the list. I am working on making a step forward - to make it to Euroleague, to make it to the NBA," Raieste said.
Both Raieste and Drell declared for NBA draft last year but later withdrew their names from consideration. Under the collective bargaining agreement a player may withdraw his name from consideration from the draft at any time before the final declaration date, which is ten days before the draft.
As the NBA canceled its global talent camp that was scheduled to happen last summer in Monaco because of venue availability, Raieste hasn't been able to show his skills to any NBA franchises. Drell had the opportunity last summer. While the former has played for Euroleague team Baskonia for the last three years and hopes to have a breakthrough season this year, the latter wants to leave his current club Pesaro, playing in the Italian championship.
"My goal is to play at the top level in Europe or in the NBA. It would be great to be drafted, but I'd rather play [than just be a statistic]. It has been my objective throughout my whole life. I sincerely believe I will make it," Drell said.
Editor: Anders Nõmm