His unique combination of basketball skills and scoring ability together with maturity and poise have led Turkish Airlines Euroleague head coaches to vote Bogdan Bogdanovic of Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul as the Euroleague Rising Star Trophy winner for the second season in a row. The Rising Star Trophy recognizes the best Euroleague player each season who was under the age of 22 on July 1 of the summer before the season started. No Fenerbahce player started more games than the 22-year-old Bogdanovic and only one played more minutes than the savvy guard, whose 289 points scored led all Rising Star Trophy-eligible players this season. Having won the award also last season, when he played for Partizan NIS Belgrade, Bogdanovic joins Nikola Mirotic, who did so in 2011 and 2012 with Real Madrid, as the only players to win the Rising Star Trophy twice. Bogdanovic is also the first Fenerbahce player to win the award.
He was followed in the head coaches' voting by Anadolu Efes Istanbul teammates Dario Saric and Cedi Osman, by Mario Hezonja of FC Barcelona and by Alessandro Gentile of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan. The Rising Star Trophy is one of several end-of-season honors awarded by Euroleague Basketball. Earlier in the week, Nizhny Novgorod guard Taylor Rochestie was announced as the recipient of the 2014-15 Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy and Olympiacos Piraeus big man Bryant Dunston was voted by the head coaches as the 2014-15 Best Defender Trophy winner. Still to be revealed are the All-Euroleague honorees. The bwin MVP award will be announced at the EFES Euroleague Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 14 during the Final Four in Madrid. The Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy and the Euroleague Club Executive of the Year are post-season awards.
Playing for a team competing for such lofty goals, Bogdanovic sacrificed individual statistics for the betterment of the team, but was still able to step up when needed. Bogdanovic won his first bwin MVP of the week honor after Top 16 Round 11 when he torched EA7 Emporio Armani Milan for 25 points, 4 assists and 2 steals and a performance index rating of 32 in a 98-77 victory that clinched Fenerbahce’s first playoff berth since 2008. In addition to leading Fenerbahce in games started (25), he was second in minutes (27:50), assists (2.7 apg.) and three-pointers made (46) and third in free-throw shooting (78.2%) and defensive rebounding (2.4 drpg.). He was also among the top three in scoring (10.7 ppg., third), three-pointers made (second), assists (first), steals (0.8 spg., second) and fouls drawn (2.5, third) among all Rising Star Trophy-eligible players this season.
With Fenerbahce, Bogdanovic was asked to play a more diverse role and responded by leading or tying for the team lead in assists in half of the team's regular season games. Not coincidentally, Fenerbahce won all of those games. When Nikos Zisis arrived to fill the playmaker role, Bogdanovic focused more on scoring; he scored in double figures in 10 and made multiple three-pointers in nine of Fenerbahce’s Top 16 games. And in the playoffs series against defending champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, Bogdanovic made every play count. His key three-pointer in the third quarter started Fenerbahce’s rally back from an 11-point deficit to win Game 1. He set the tone in Game 2 by scoring three-pointers for Fenerbahce’s first points of each half en route to a comfortable 15-point win. And in a Game 3 overtime win to sweep the series, Bogdanovic corralled the final rebound with his team up 1 to seal the victory and a place in Madrid. Whether based on numbers or his contributions to Fenerbahce’s first trip to the Final Four, Bogdanovic stood out all season long and is a worthy repeat recipient of the Rising Star Trophy.
The list of former Euroleague Rising Star Trophy winners includes Erazem Lorbek, who won the inaugural Rising Star trophy in 2005 with Climamio Bologna and was followed by Andrea Bargnani with Benetton Treviso in 2006. Rudy Fernandez, now with Real Madrid, collected the trophy in 2007 with DKV Joventut, before Danilo Gallinari of Armani Jeans Milano won the award in 2008. Novica Velickovic of Partizan Belgrade was the 2009 winner, and the following year it was Ricky Rubio of FC Barcelona. Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos Piraeus won the Rising Star Trophy in 2013.
Bogdanovic has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Rubio and Papanikolaou, who each helped their team to the Euroleague title in the season they won the Rising Star Trophy. The Rising Star Trophy will be formally presented to Bogdanovic at the EFES Euroleague Awards Ceremony portion of the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four Madrid Tip-Off Event on Thursday, May 14 at Casa de Correos.