OK, so I get that the Berlin Wall came down close to 25 years ago. But it still has far-reaching impacts. Stolichnaya vodka isn’t hard to get anymore. Guys can beat off to pictures of Maria Sharapova without feeling like a traitor. And college basketball is full of guys with names that can’t be pronounced with a western tongue.
To keep this rant concise, I’m sticking to five examples; feel free to submit your own. I’ve picked out these guys because I think all of them have a shot to be NBA players in the near future. So even the guys you won’t see in the upcoming March Madness you re likely going to see on an NBA team near you. Oh, and just for purposes of clarity, I’m staying away from all the African guys…names like “Mbakwe” that also have consecutive like some these Europeans would be just too much for one post…the combination might make my tongue snap off its roller like an old-school window shade.
1) Purdue C Sandi Marcius - Croatia
So, look at that surname and tell me as an American how you would pronounce it. Unless you guessed “mar-chooch’” you guessed wrong. Thanks to Purdue’s loss to Nebraska in the B1G Ten tournament, you won’t be seeing the “Sandi-nista” again until October. Maybe it is the fact that I’ve been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since childhood, but I can’t resist a European big…Swen Nater, Vlade Divac, and now this guy. The name alone means he could be changing Purdue black and gold for Laker purple and gold in a few years.
2) West Virginia F Deniz Kiliςli - Turkey
Want to try to pronounce that name correctly? The name is Turkish, and they don’t even use the same alphabet we do. Having said that, the proper pronunciation is “kah-lich-lah.” Admit it, you wouldn’t have been within miles of that. However, you may want to get familiar with the name since the 6’9″ 260-pounder is going to provide an inside presence for somebody in the NBA next season. Not to mention, he is a musket and a couple of skipped haircuts away from being a Sports Doppelganger for the West Virginia mascot.
3) Gonzaga C Przemek Karnowski - Poland
So, by now I’m guessing you’ve latched on to the whole “unpronounceable” angle, so I’ll let you off the hook. In terms of a player, at 7’1″ 305 pounds, Karnowski is like a Polish version of Shaquille O’Neal. I really want to start calling him “The Big Karnowski.” Along with that, he is a better-than-average shooter, he can consistently hit 15-foot pull-up jumpers. Defensively, he has some weaknesses, particularly rebounding, but a few years’ development in the college game should make him a first-round NBA pick.
4) Boise State F Vukasin Vujovic - Serbia
A 6’9″220-pound forward, Vujovic played for S Beograd, the junior team of Euroleague member Partizan Belgrade. He averaged 16 points on 53% shooting, in addition to pulling down 5.8 rebounds per game. This is why Vujocic was regarded as one of the top junior power forwards in Europe. He also comes from one of the best basketball countries in the world, and let’s be honest…Serbia owes us all an apology after foisting the likes of Darko Milicic on us.
5) James Madison F Dimitrije Cabarkapa - Serbia
Here’s another big coming from the Serbian junior circuit. A 6’10″ 230 pound forward, played Cabarkapa for the Vojvodina Sport Key junior club, where he averaged 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He also comes from NBA lineage; he is the first cousin of former NBA player Zarko Cabarkapa, who played three seasons with the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. The fact that Serbia, a country roughly the size of Minnesota with a population of only 7 million , has put two players on this list can only mean they really want us to forget about Darko Milicic.