Young Men - The Candidates

Aleksandar Vezenkov - Bulgaria and Aris Thessaloniki
Growing up in Greece but always returning each summer to play for his native Bulgaria, Vezenkov would have been feeling more at home than most this summer when he participated in the U20 European Championship in Crete. As he has been for a number of summers past, Vezenkov was once again the rock in the Bulgarian team, dominating proceedings with 19.3 points and 11.2 rebounds an outing. The EuroBasket 2nd Qualifying Round was up next, where he was once more the leader, averaging a team-best 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Cedi Osman - Turkey and Andolu Efes Istanbul
With Turkish men's teams exceeding expectations at almost all levels during the summer, there were a number of players doing the same on an individual level, none more so than Osman. Having played a supporting act on youth teams in the previous two summers, Osman stepped into the limelight in 2014, taking out MVP honours in leading Turkey to the top of the podium at the U20 European Championship with 20 points in the grand finale. This did not go unrecognised by senior team head coach Ergin Ataman, who gave the shooting guard his senior debut at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Dario Saric - Croatia and Andolu Efes Istanbul
It is easy to forget that Dario Saric can still be considered for the Young Men's Player of the Year award, given how much he has already achieved in his 20 years. Adding to his career notes this year, the Croatian power forward led Cibona Zagreb to the top of the Adriatic League podium with a Final Four MVP performance. This did not go unnoticed, with Saric drafted 12th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, before stepping out for his nation at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Domantas Sabonis - Lithuania and Gonzaga University
Retaining college status by playing for Unicaja Malaga pro bono, Sabonis took the next step to emulating the feats of his father, cementing a spot in the Malaga starting line-up in the Euroleague, despite still being 17. Continuing to assist his club's youth team, he played a key role in earning them a silver medal in the Spain Youth Basketball League. He then turned out at the U18 European Championship where he led Lithuania in points, rebounds and assists per game. In the autumn, Sabonis began his college career in Spokane.
Dragan Bender - Croatia and Ironi Ramat Gan
Heralded as the best 1997-born European prospect, Bender demonstrated why such hype surrounds him, stealing the limelight on a stacked Croatian team at the U18 European Championship, despite being a year younger than his peers. With a do-it-all game, Bender played his way onto the All-Tournament team with a series of all-round performances which twice included narrowly missing out on triple doubles, one of which was the bronze medal game when he finished with 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, assuring his team the final available spot on the podium.
Federico Mussini - Italy and Reggio Emilia
Mussini missed standing atop the EuroChallenge podiumthis year, as he was otherwise preoccupied pulling off heroics for Italy at the prestigious bi-annual Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Germany where he led his country to gold with 20.3 points a game, making Italy one of the favourites heading into the U18 European Championship. However, despite falling short of expectations as a team at the Championship, Mussini still gained personal accolades, being named to the All-Tournament Team with a tournament-best 22.6 points an outing, cementing his spot as one of Europe's premier up-and-coming guards.
Giannis Antetokounmpo - Greece and Milwaukee Bucks
The nickname "Greek Freak" is aptly applied to Antetokounmpo, not merely as a measure for commentators to avoid having to pronounce his name. The affable 19-year-old swingman has become an instant crowd favourite in Milwaukee, the term freakish adapted quickly to describe his see-it-to-believe-it athleticism. Named to the 2014 NBA All-Rookie second team, Antetokounmpo is a key component to a young Bucks' roster that fans are hoping will return the club to the glory days of the seventies. Antetokounmpo also chose the biggest stage for a senior international debut, playing for Greece at the FIBA World Cup.
Jusuf Nurkic - Bosnia and Herzegovina and Denver Nuggets
Fresh off winning the Croatian League with Cedevita Zagreb, followed by a 16th overall pick in the NBA draft, Nurkic returned home in July where he relished the partisan home support, averaging 21.6 points and 12 rebounds in delivering a 2015 U20 European Championship Division A berth to his country. It was then time to pack his bags to move stateside, putting up some impressive stats for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Summer League, before making his debut in the main show on 29 October.
Stefan Peno - Serbia and FC Barcelona
As if playing a key role on ensuring a silver medal for Serbia at the U18 European Championship was not enough, Peno then boarded a plane to the United Arab Emirates where he was again destined for the podium, but this time on the world stage at the FIBA U17 World Championship. A player for whom stats do not always portray the whole picture, Peno was a key piece to the jigsaw on both teams, impressing with his creativity and versatility for a tall guard, finishing amongst the statistical leaders in more than one category on both teams.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk - Ukraine and Kansas University
Unperturbed playing against peers a year older than him at the U18 European Championship Division B in July, Mykhailiuk was responsible for carrying the Ukrainian team to the gold medal game and subsequently, back to Division A for 2015. His performances were also enough to earn him tournament MVP honours. Combined with his performances a summer earlier at the U16 European Championship in his home country, Mykhailiuk attracted attention from the United States and in autumn the 17-year-old moved to Kansas to begin a college career with the Kansas Jayhawks.

All Winners

Men
2013: Tony Parker
2012: Andrei Kirilenko
2011: Dirk Nowitzki
2010: Milos Teodosic
2009: Pau Gasol
2008: Pau Gasol
2007: Andrei Kirilenko
2006: Theo Papaloukas
2005: Dirk Nowitzki

Women
2013: Sancho Lyttle
2012: Celine Dumerc
2011: Alba Torrens
2010: Hana Horáková
2009: Sandrine Gruda
2008: Maria Stepanova
2007: Anete Jekabsone-Zogota
2006: Maria Stepanova
2005: Maria Stepanova

Young Men
2013: Dario Saric
2012: Jonas Valanciunas
2011: Jonas Valanciunas
2010: Jan Vesely
2009: Ricky Rubio
2008: Ricky Rubio
2007: Ricky Rubio
2006: Rudy Fernandez
2005: Nikolaos Zisis

Young Women
2013: Astou Ndour
2012: Alina Iagupova
2011: Emma Meesseman
2010: Nika Baric
2009: Alba Torrens
2008: Gintare Petronyte
2007: Sonja Petrovic
2006: Sandrine Gruda
2005: Anete Jekabsone