By Dionysis Aravantinos / @AravantinosDA
At 20, Yovel Zoosman is considered one of the best European NBA prospects. Coming from Israel and playing well in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague competition; Europe’s most competitive league, with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Zoosman could be selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.
In 30 games this season, the Israeli forward averaged 3.0 points, 1.5 assists, 1.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game in just 14:46 minutes of action. In some situations, he came up big for his team on both ends of the court, showcasing his versatility and two-way talent. After declaring for the upcoming NBA Draft, Zoosman talked to Eurohoops regarding this season’s success.
Coming off a great run in the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship last summer, you got more opportunities with Maccabi in the EuroLeague and performed at the highest level. You are now considered one of the best international prospects. How would you describe this season’s experience, playing in Europe’s best competition and having a more significant role in your team, compared to last year?
It has been a great time for me. I’m a little bit disappointed because we didn’t succeed in our goal, making the EuroLeague playoffs, but I think this season was much different than last season, in terms of playing minutes. I felt amazing. I tried to enjoy every second, tried to learn and I think I performed okay. I believe I could perform better, because at any time, you can do everything better. But, I still learned many things and I hope to learn more.
What did you learn this year in the EuroLeague and what challenged you the most?
There are no easy games in the EuroLeague competition. Every game is different. The match-ups are different in every game. There is so much talent and physicality in the league, so you need to constantly be improving. At any time, you need to perform at the highest level.
How did you fell in love with basketball and wanted to pursue a professional career?
From an early age, I connected to basketball. It was a natural connection. Since then, I tried to perform at the highest level and try to achieve more and more goals. Becoming a better player, and try to win as many titles as a I can with my team.
Who was your basketball ‘role model’ and favorite player growing up?
There are actually a few of them. Growing up in Israel, I watched Anthony Parker in his Maccabi days (2000-2002, 2003-2006) at his best, and I wore number 8 because of him until I was playing for the U-18 team. I really liked Drazen Petrovic, even though I didn’t have the chance to watch him play live. I enjoyed watching him play on YouTube. Of course, when I was 7-8, Miami won the NBA title (2006), so from that point I liked Dwayne Wade.
How would you describe yourself as a basketball player, to those who have not watched you play yet?
That’s a good question (laughs). I don’t really like to talk about myself. From things people who I know have said, usually they say that I’m long, I have long hands. They say that I play smart, try not to force everything, and try to win. That’s the most important goal for any player, any athlete. That’s the first thing I’m trying to do. Win.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Trying to develop as a player. You can’t really tell where you will be in five years. Your career can go at any direction. I’m going to try to be better every day. Try to work harder every day, add things to my game, to become a better player, help my team in more ways, in every way that I can. Become as much versatile as I can, and that’s about it.