March Madness: The 10 best Europeans to watch

14/Mar/18 10:33 March 14, 2018

Dionysis Aravantinos

14/Mar/18 10:33

Eurohoops presents the ten European players in the NCAA March Madness tournament that you should follow.

By Dionysis Aravantinos /

March Madness is here! The 64 best NCAA teams and players are ready for the knock out games with the final stop being San Antonio, home of this season’s Final Four.

And with basketball becoming a global game, here are the ten best European players of the event. Remember their name, cause you will meet them again in their near future in the NBA, or back in the old continent since they belong to the top level!

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Ukraine

  • Team: Kansas Jayhawks
  • Position: G
  • Stats: 15.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG
  • Age: 20

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is one of the best guards in the NCAA, playing for one of the best teams. Scoring 15.3 points per game while also shooting 44.3% from the field and a highly impressive 45.1% from beyond the arc, he currently is the 13th best overall three-pointer shooter in the country.

Behind Devonte’ Graham’s 17.6 points per game, Mykhailiuk is second in scoring on his team. The 20-year old Ukrainian is also averaging 34.2 minutes per game.

Kansas has a 27-7 record and it’s the number one seed in the MidWest region. Mykhailiuk together with Graham and Azubuike want to lead this squad to the final-four under head coach Bill Self.

*Kansas will face Penn in the first round of the bracket.

Killian Tillie – France

  • Team: Gonzaga Bulldogs
  • Position: F
  • Stats: 13.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG
  • Age: 20

Killian Tillie has had an impressive sophomore year with Gonzaga. The younger brother of French national team member Kim Tillie who currently plays in Greece for Olympiacos Piraeus, led the Bulldogs to the WWC Conference title while being the MVP. In the championship game, the 20-year old had 22 points (9/13 FG) in 32 minutes.

In the three games the team played in this small tournament, he made 13/14 three-pointers, showcasing his shooting abilities. For the season he has been averaging 13.4 points while shooting an incredible 50% from the three-point line and 59.3% from the field. The question is whether he can lead this team to the final-four together with Jonathan Williams and Josh Perkins.

*Gonzaga will face UNCG in the first round of the bracket.

Dusan Ristic – Serbia

  • Team: Arizona Wildcats
  • Position: C
  • Stats: 12.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG
  • Age: 22

Dusan Ristic has been one of the most important centers in the collegian level. He has been averaging 12.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while playing in one of the best teams in the nation, next to draft prospect Deandre Ayton. He is also shooting 56.1% from the field. In the Pac-12 Tournament, he was part of the All-Second team as he led his squad to back-to-back titles. Silently but effectively Ristic is having his best year and is improving every single season.

After all, a few weeks back Ristic became the player with the most wins ever in the Wildcats’ history. The 22-year old senior has his eyes set on the national championship, and he’ll do whatever he can to lead his team to a second national title.

*Arizona will face Buffalo in the first round of the bracket.

Moritz Wagner – Germany

  • Team: Michigan Wolverines
  • Position: F
  • Stats: 14.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG
  • Age: 20

One of the best rebounders in the nation, Moritz Wagner is having a great year, leading his Michigan team to a 28-7 record and the third seed in the West region. He is averaging 52.9% from the field and 39.6% from beyond the arc. In the Big Ten tournament, he won the Most Valuable Player award. The 20-year old has been leading the Wolverines in points (14.5), rebounds (7.1) and blocks (0.6).

Back in 2014-15, Wagner played for Alba Berlin in Germany, and he also has won a gold medal with the Under-18 German team.

*Michigan will face Montana in the first round of the bracket.

Omer Yurtseven – Turkey

  • Team: North Carolina State Wolfpack
  • Position: C
  • Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG
  • Age: 20

Omer Yurtseven is one of the best seven-foot international players in NCAA’s March Madness tournament. The former Fenerbahce‘s player decided to move to the States and it was the right call. The 20-year old led NC State to a 21-11 record in the MidWest.

What is also important to note is that he is improving his game, adding skills that were not part of his repertoire. This year, Yurtseven has been attempting 1.3 three-pointers a game and is hitting 51.2% (!) of them. Another huge aspect of his game is defense. He has been leading his team with 1.9 blocks per game.

*North Carolina State will face Seton Hall in the first round of the bracket.

Ajdin Penava – Bosnia & Herzegovina

  • Team: Marshall Thundering Herd
  • Position: F
  • Stats: 15.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG
  • Age: 21

Ajdin Penava is a rising star. He is the best rebounder on Marshall’s team, as he has been averaging 8.6 rebounds per game while also being the third leading scorer for Dan D’Antoni’s team. With a 24-10 record, Marshall is 13th in the East region and is heading to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 31 years.

The 21-year old Bosnian has had some notable games, filling up the stat-lines. Against East Kentucky, Penava flirted with a quadruple-double (!) showcasing his all-around game and versatility. He finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, nine blocks (!), seven assists and two steals.

A huge aspect of his game is his presence on the defensive side of the court. This season he is averaging an incredible nation-leading 4.1 blocks per game and 1.0 steals. Penava can also spread the floor and knock down the three-pointer (33%), as he is attempting 2.9 threes a game.

*Marshall will face Wichita State in the first round of the bracket.

Jón Axel Guðmundsson – Iceland

  • Team: Davidson Wildcats
  • Position: G
  • Stats: 13.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG
  • Age: 21

Together with Tryggvi Hilnasson, Jon Aexl Gudmundsson is the future of Iceland. The 21-year old guard is averaging 13.0 points, 5.1 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game on a 21-11 Davidson team. This is Gudmundsson’s second year in the NCAA and he is continuously improving. Last season, he averaged 8.1 points per contest and this year he has increased his average to 13.0. He has been very reliable for head coach Bob McKillop.

What’s significant about Gudmundsson’s playing style is that despite being a guard and a solid playmaker, he is also averaging 6.1 rebounds per game, as he loves to grab the rebound, run in transition and finish at the rim.

*Davidson will face Kentucky in the first round of the bracket.