Nikola Vucevic did wonders for his draft stock from March, when he was slated to be a pretty good second round pick out of USC, up until the NBA Draft in June. Vucevic stood out at the NBA Combine in May, individual workouts after that and eventually ended up being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th overall pick after being rumored as a possible lottery selection.
The Montenegrin won't start his post-college career in the NBA, however, as he has instead decided to be the first first round pick to head overseas rather than wait out the NBA lockout. Vucevic inked a deal with Buducnost, a Euroleague team based in Montenegro, for the upcoming season. The move had been rumored for a few days, but became official on Monday when the Euroleague reported the deal on its website.
Vucevic is also planning to play for the Montenegrin National Team at the upcoming Eurobasket tournament so this is probably more a move related to convenience more than anything else, but because of that, it makes a lot of sense.
There are plenty of NBA players either going to Europe, or exploring the option of taking their talents overseas, that will have to acclimate themselves to an entirely different culture -- both on the court and in the community. Vucevic spent his teen years in Montenegro, though, and even played with Montenegrin team KK Mornar Bar prior to moving to the USA in 2007.
As a 20-year-old rookie preparing himself to play professional basketball in a league that currently won't allow him to play professional basketball, there are a lot worse options than playing in the second best league in the world all while staying close to home for the duration of the summer.
Good on ya, Nikola.