Germany Sept 3, 2013: Prior to Lithuania’s EuroBasket 2013 opening game against Serbia, FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak presented Jonas Valanciunas with the 2012 FIBA Europe’s Young Player of the Year trophy. It is the second consecutive year that the Utena native has been bestowed with the honour.
“It is a great honour to receive the award for a second time,” said the center.
“Playing for the national team is a great experience, but men’s basketball is very different and I’m focused on achieving success at the highest level. My journey is just beginning.”
Valanciunas eclipsed other nominations in the process of earning the honour, which was voted on by selected journalists and fans, easily seeing off Croatia’s Dario Saric and France’s Leo Westermann, who finished second and third respectively.
Following on from a breakthrough 2011 when the then 19-year-old led his country’s U19 team to gold at the World Championship, got drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors and made his senior debut for Lithuania, 2012 could be considered something of a quieter year for the center.
That is, if you consider four club finals with Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas, an appearance at the Olympics and an NBA debut with the Raptors, as being quiet.
Opting to stay in Europe during the NBA lockout, Valanciunas made a seamless transition to becoming a regular starter in senior men’s basketball, being named as Eurocup Rising Star; earning a spot in the Lithuanian League All-Star Game; whilst also being announced as a member of the All-Eurocup squad.
The 21-year-old then capped his year off with a move to Toronto where he has been gaining regular minutes with the Raptors.
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