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Yaroslav Korolev Heads To Spain To Play With CB Granada

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Yaroslav Korolev will be taking his talents to Spain for the 2010-2011 season because he's signed with CB Granada according to the team's official website.

The 6-foot-9 forward and former 12th overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2005 NBA Draft averaged 10.4 points and  5.5 rebounds while shooting 43% from the field last season in the D-League, splitting time with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and Reno Bighorns.

Those aren't very good numbers, especially for a former lottery pick playing in the D-League, but the fact that Korolev is still just 23 years old and was believed to have ridiculous upside coming into the NBA allowed Yari to make an appearance in both the Orlando and Vegas Summer Leagues.

In Orlando, Korolev played for the Magic and averaged 7.0 points on an abysmal 31% shooting from the field before leaving to play with the D-League's entry in Las Vegas.  Korolev had a bigger role with the D-League team - he even started two games - but failed to impress while averaging 10.4 points while shooting a better, but still bad, 37% from the field.  The biggest problem, perhaps, was that he kept insisting on firing shots from the top of the key despite making just 5-of-18 from beyond the arc (Note: That's less than 28%).

I had the chance to talk with a well-respected European scout while down in Vegas and, like most of my conversations, Korolev came up.  I didn't have my recorder on, but the conversation went something like this:

Him: Korolev played in the D-League last season, didn't he? How'd he do?

Me: Ummm, not terrible. Averaged about 12 points in 20 minutes.. not much else.  Got traded midseason, so obviously there were some issues but that'll happen.

Him: 20 minutes? At least he's playing.  He didn't get any minutes in Russia last year. Still just a shooter?

Me: Not really - percentages were pretty low, but pretty athletic and could get to the basket a lot better than I remembered.  Only 23, but still not ready for the NBA.

Him: He'll never be ready for the NBA.

And therein lies the problem with Korolev: No matter how much better he's ever able to get (and I don't believe he's reached his full potential yet, honestly), people will always remember him for being a monumental bust.

Last, but not least, here's the most interesting paragraph from the team's press release as translated by Google:

"Yarik", a name by which he is known, the dorsal 15 and will speak Castilian, after living four years of his childhood in Costa Rica, where his father was a National Coach.

So there's that.