Lots of NBA scouts have paid a visit to the U18 European Championship in Zaragoza to follow the future stars of the basketball world and possible future draft picks. For some of the young players the presence of the scout is stressful, for other it provides a bigger motivation. Only one player was free of worries and didn’t have to think about the NBA draft – Viktor Sanikidze of Georgia.
He finished the Championship with an impressive average of 17.6 points and 9.8 rebounds, but his team didn’t make it to the Quarter-Finals. That’s only one of the reasons why Sanikidze isn’t happy with his performance here. The other one is an injury which prevented him from displaying his best skills.
Is the fact you are already drafted made it easier for you to play here without pressure?
“I didn’t care much about that. The only thing that bothered me is the injury in my knees. That’s why I didn’t play in two games, and wasn’t able to be at my best. I can play much better than what I’ve done in this championship without the knee injury”.
How was the draft experience for you? Did you follow it closely?
“In fact I didn’t see it at all. It was very early in the morning in Georgia when the draft took place, and I was sleeping. My manager called me and waked me up to tell me the big news”.
You played at college when you were 15, but came back to Europe pretty fast. How do you summarize the experience?
“I played in a junior college for one season. Then I came back to Georgia and in the last season signed a contract with French Dijon where I’ll also play next season. I came back because the season in the USA was too short. I couldn’t play for several months, so I came back to Europe, where I could play for almost the whole year”.