An historic night for Croatian basketball in the 2016 NBA draft on Thursday…
18-year-old Dragan Bender became the highest-ranked Croatian draft pick in history when the was the No. 4 overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft last night. The talented 7-foot-1 forward was picked up by the Phoenix Suns.
“It is a dream come true,” said Bender, who had been playing in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the past two seasons.
Bender was one of three Croatians picked up in the draft, with the Boston Celtics selecting 19-year-old Ante Žižić with the 23rd overall selection. Žižić, who stands at 7-foot tall, averaged 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game for Cibona Zagreb this season.
Meanwhile Ivica Zubac was selected as the 32nd pick of the NBA Draft by the LA Lakers. 7-foot-1 Zubac, who also played for Cibona in Zagreb, has represented Croatia at youth level.
He averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds a match at the 2015 U19 World Championships in Greece.