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Israeli wing player Zoosman to enter NBA draft

Israeli wing Yovel Zoosman has submitted paperwork to the league office to make himself eligible for the 2019 NBA draft.

“I am extremely happy to share that I will be declaring for the 2019 NBA draft in June,” Zoosman told ESPN. “Until then, I am totally committed and focused on helping my team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, achieve our goal of repeating, and winning the Israeli league championship for the second year in a row. To be considered a potential NBA draft pick is an incredible honor, and hearing my name called on draft night would truly be a dream come true.”

Zoosman, the No. 58 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, is having a productive season in the Israeli league and Euroleague, averaging 5.2 points in 20 minutes while shooting 45 percent from the field through 55 games. He is a leading candidate to win the prestigious Euroleague Rising Star award along with projected first round pick Goga Bitadze.

“I have dreamed of being a professional basketball player from a very young age and always believed that through hard work, dedication and with the support of my family and coaches, I could achieve my goal of playing at the highest levels,” Zoosman told ESPN. “Playing in the Euroleague at such a young age has been an incredible learning experience. Being able to compete on a weekly basis against some of the best players in the world has made me confident I belong here, at the highest levels. I am grateful for the platform that Maccabi has given me and use it to do my best to help my team win.”

Zoosman was named MVP of the FIBA U20 European Championship last July, after helping the Israeli national team win the championship in Germany. He has represented his home country at every age group – U16, U18, U20 – as well at the senior national team level as part of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

Zoosman has attracted significant attention this season from NBA scouts, not just due to playing a key role as a 20-year-old at the highest level of European competition, but also for his size, length, shooting ability and basketball IQ.

“I’ve always considered myself more of a guard than a forward, and believe that given my size and length, I can be a successful pick and roll player,” Zoosman told ESPN. “I believe my movement without the ball and court vision give me a great advantage and allow me to be an effective option on offense. I feel I am a very good shooter, but I also love to drive and finish strong at the rim. From a very young age, my father, who was my first basketball coach, taught me to take pride in my defense, which I do to this day.”

Zoosman is attempting to become the first Israeli player drafted since Omri Casspi in 2009, and only the third Israeli to ever play in the NBA, a fact that is not lost on him.

“I love my country and I try to do my best to represent it wherever I go,” Zoosman told ESPN. “For example, being part of the U20 European champion team this past summer and hearing our national anthem being played after being awarded the gold medal was an incredible experience that I will cherish forever. Israel being such a small country, any time an Israeli, athlete or not, achieves great success, the entire country supports him or her. Already today, I feel the great support and energy from fans across the country. If I were fortunate enough to be drafted this coming June, it would mean the world to me to follow in the footsteps of Omri Casspi, Gal Mekel, and others, make my country proud and hopefully inspire young Israelis to follow their dreams as well.”

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