Dzanan Musa has already taken his first step, making his Euroleague debut with Cedevita Zagreb.

Dzanan Musa has already taken his first step, making his Euroleague debut with Cedevita Zagreb.

Looking at the starting lineup for Cedevita Zagreb’s 2015-16 Euroleague season opener, it was next to impossible not to do a double take. It was no surprise that 19-year-old center Marko Arapovic was starting against Olympiacos Piraeus.

But the starting shooting guard cannot be right – Dzanan Musa. They are starting Dzanan Musa?

For those who don’t know who Dzanan Musa is, he is the star talent that led Bosnia and Herzegovina to the 2015 U16 European Championship title as MVP. Yes, U16 Euros. And now he’s starting in the first game of the Euroleague season – lining up against multiple Euroleague champion Vasilis Spanoulis.

“He started because coach (Veljko Mrsic) wanted to put him in the beginning on Spanoulis. He wanted to see energy from him and wanted to show him that the club is behind him,” Cedevita sports director Matej Mamic told heinnews.

Musa played 4:55 minutes, scoring four points as he made his only field goal attempt and hit both of his free throws. Musa grabbed one offensive rebound, turned the ball over once and committed two personal fouls – for a PIR of 3. Mrsic did not put Musa back into the game after playing nearly the first five minutes.

But that was enough for Musa to have made his Euroleague debut – at 16 years, 5 months and 7 days.

According to Pablo Campoy with the Euroleague, Musa is the ninth-youngest player to make their debut in Europe’s elite competition. Younger were only Aleksandar Ugrinoski (Cibona – 15 years 8 months 22 days), Can Maxim Mutaf (Fenerbahce – 15 years 10 months 14 days), Manuchar Markoishvili (Benetton Treviso – 15 years 10 months 23 days), Gina Cuccarolo (Benetton Treviso – 16 years 0 months 0 days), Ricky Rubio (DKV Joventut – 16 years 0 months 3 days), Uros Tripkovic (Partizan – 16 years 0 months 28 days) Damir Markota (Cibona – 16 years 1 month 11 days) and Ioannis Karamalegos (Panathinaikos – 16 years 1 month 23 days).

“I’m happy and he deserves that for what he did this summer,” said Matic of Musa, who helped Bosnia and Herzegovina qualify for the 2016 FIBA World Championship – the first time the Bosnians had ever booked a spot in a global FIBA event.

Matic said the Bihac native came back to Cedevita full of confidence after the U16 European crown, which actually followed him leading the Bosnians to the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival title in Tblisi, Georgia with a win over Spain in the final.

“He has more confidence, a little bit better shot and a better understanding of using his minutes on the floor,” Mamic said.

“Now he is playing better defense, understanding why defense is important. He has experience with senior players. And he is making better passing decisions – all the things you can’t learn in youth games.”

When asked what are the next things Cedevita wants Musa to work on, Mamic added: “To practice more, because he played a lot games. He must improve his ball handling, his shooting range and (shooting) percentages. And he must work on his body.”

Musa still is a very slender youngster, who turned down offers from Olympiacos and Partizan before signing a long term deal with the Croatian club Cedevita late in 2014. He was sent on loan for the second half of the season to Zabok.

But this season, Musa is with the Cedevita senior team.

“Expectations for him are to play good defense every game – he must improve a lot for the senior team; to be offensively active; and get some experience,” said Mamic of Musa, who left the small Bosnian club Kos Moster for Cedevita.

“He has to be patient with minutes because it will not be easy to always give them to him.”

When asked what he thinks long-term about Musa, Mamic said. “My opinion is that he will be a star if he work as much as he’s working now. He must be patient and everything will come. I like his mentality, and I’m behind this kid 100 percent.”

In addition to his one Euroleague appearance, Musa also has appeared in three Adriatic Leugue games, playing 12 combined minutes and collecting three points on 0-4 shooting, 3-of-4 from the foul line, 2 rebounds and one steal while committing three fouls.

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Musa made his Euroleague debut on October 15, 2015. Also making their Euroleague debuts on that day were two other star prospects, who were only slightly older than Musa.

France U18 international Frank Ntilikina played for Strasbourg against Crvena Zvezda at age 17 years 2 months 17 days.

Dragan Bender meanwhile played his first Euroleague game for Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv against CSKA Moscow at the age of 17 years 10 months 28 days.

 

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A day later – on October 16, 2015 – Slovenian star talent Luka Doncic became the 21st player in Euroleague history (according to heinnews research dating back to the 2000-01 season) to debut under the age of 17. The Real Madrid guard was 16 years 7 months 18 days when he played against Khimki Moscow Region.

 

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There are two other players with decent chances of making their Euroleague debut before age 17, with them being Real Madrid’s Serbian Dino Radoncic, who would be 16 years 9 months 14 days if he plays on October 22, 2015 vs Czvena Zvezda; and Panathinaikos’ Georgios Kalaitzakis, who would be 16 years 9 months 20 days should he play on October 22, 2015 vs Karsiyaka.

 

Youngest Euroleague debutants since start of league in 2000-01 (according to Pablo Campoy of Euroleague):

1. ALEKSANDAR UGRINOSKI
Team: Cibona
Born: 7 May, 1988
Nationality: Croatia
First game: January 28, 2004 vs Partizan
Age: 15 years 8 months 22 days

2. CAN MAXIM MUTAF
Team: Fenerbahce Ulker
Born: 9 January, 1991
Nationality: Turkey
First game: November 23, 2006 vs Barcelona
Age: 15 years 10 months 14 days

3. MANUCHAR MARKOISHVILI
Team: Benetton
Born: 17 November, 1986
Nationality: Georgia
First game October 10, 2002 vs Pau-Orthez
Age: 15 years 10 months 23 days

4. GINO CUCCAROLO
Team: Benetton
Born: 26 November, 1987
Nationality: Italy
First game November 26, 2003 vs Asvel
Age: 16 years 0 months 0 days

5. RICKY RUBIO
Team: DKV Joventut
Born: 21 October, 1990
Nationality: Spain
First game October 24, 2006 vs Panathinaikos
Age: 16 years 0 months 3 days

6. UROS TRIPKOVIC
Team: Partizan
Born: 11 September, 1986
Nationality: Serbia
First game: October 09, 2002 vs Real Madrid
Age: 16 years 0 months 28 days

7. DAMIR MARKOTA
Team: Cibona
Born: 26 December, 1985
Nationality: Croatia
First game: February 6, 2002 vs Asvel
Age: 16 years 1 months 11 days

8. IOANNIS KARAMALEGOS
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Born: 19 September, 1994
Nationality: Greece
First game: November 11, 2010 vs Efes Pilsen Istanbul
Age: 16 years 1 months 23 days

9. DZANAN MUSA
Team: Cedevita Zagreb
Born: 8 May, 1999
Nationality: Bosnia and Herzegovina
First game: October 15, 2015 vs Olympiacos
Age: 16 years 5 months 7 days

10. ENES KANTER
Team: Fenerbahce Ulker
Born: 1 March, 1992
Nationality: Turkey
First game: October 30, 2008 vs Alba Berlin
Age: 16 years 7 months 29 days

 

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Other 16 year olds who have debuted in the Euroleague:

MARCO BELINELLI
Team: Virtus Bologna
Born: 25 March, 1986
Nationality: Italy
First game: October 17, 2002 vs Real Madrid
Age: 16 years 6 months 22 days

LUKA DONCIC
Team: Real Madrid
Born: 28 February, 1999
Nationality: Slovenia
First game: October 16, 2015 vs Khimki Moscow Region
Age: 16 years 7 months 18 days

MICHALIS LOUNTZIS
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Born: 4 August, 1998
Nationality: Greece
First game: April 14, 2015 vs CSKA Moscow
Age: 16 years 8 months 10 days

OMER YURTSEVEN
Team: Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul
Born: 19 June, 1998
Nationality: Turkey
First game: March 20, 2015 vs EA7 Emporio Armani Milan
Age: 16 years 9 months 2 days

KOSTAS VASILEIADIS
Team: PAOK
Born: 15 March, 1984
Nationality: Greece
First game December 20, 2000 vs Opel Skyliners
Age: 16 years 9 months 5 days

LUIGI DATOME
Team: Montepaschi Siena
Born: 27 November, 1987
Nationality: Italy
First game: November 03, 2004 vs Asvel Basket
Age: 16 years 11 months 7 days

VASILIS CHARALAMPOPOULOS
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Born: 6 January, 1997
Nationality: Greece
First game: December 13, 2013 vs Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Age: 16 years 11 months 7 days

MACIEJ LAMPE

Team: Real Madrid
Born: 5 February 1985
Nationality: Poland
First game: January 31, 2002 vs Skipper Bologna
Age: 16 years 11 months 26 days

– – –

Other 16-year-olds who could debut this season:
DINO RADONCIC
Team: Real Madrid
Born: 8 January, 1999
Nationality: Serbia
Age: 16 years 9 months 14 days – IF HE PLAYS on October 22, 2015 vs Czvena Zvezda

GEORGIOS KALAITZAKIS
Team: Panathinaikos Athens
Born: 2 January, 1999
Nationality: Greece
Age: 16 years 9 months 20 days – IF HE PLAYS ON October 22, 2015 vs Karsiyaka

 

Other notable young Euroleague debutants:
DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS
Team: Zalgiris
Born: 20 September, 1990
Nationality: Lithuania
Age: 17 years 1 months 18 days

FRANK NTILIKINA
Team: Strasbourg
Born: 28 July, 1998
Nationality: France
Age: 17 years 2 months 17 days

FURKAN KORKMAZ
Team: Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Born: 24 July, 1997
Nationality: Turkey
Age: 17 years 2 months 22 days

LOVRO MAZALIN
Team: Cedevita Zagreb
Born: 28 June, 1997
Nationality: Croatia
Age: 17 years 3 months 22 days

DOMANTAS SABONIS
Team: Unicaja Malaga
Born: 3 May, 1996
Nationality: Lithuania
Age: 17 years 5 months 15 days

DARIO SARIC
Team: KK Zagreb
Born: 8 April, 1994
Nationality: Croatia
17 years 6 months 12 days

MARIO HEZONJA
Team FC Barcelona Regal
1.98 Born: 25 February, 1995
Nationality: Croatia
Age: 17 years 9 months 5 days

DRAGAN BENDER
Team: Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Born: 17 November, 1997
Nationality: Croatia
Age: 17 years 10 months 28 days

CEDI OSMAN
Team: Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Born: 8 April, 1995
Nationality: Turkey
Age: 18 years 6 months 15 days

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