It has taken persistence for Sasha Vezenkov to arrive at the summit of European basketball.
Star turn: Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus
After starting his career in his native Cyprus, Vezenkov became a first-team regular with Aris Thessaloniki at the age of 16. He was named the Greek League's best young player for three seasons running, also taking the league's MVP award in the last of those, 2014-15, while still a teenager.
Those exploits precipitated a move to FC Barcelona, which seemed to be a launchpad to greatness. Vezenkov averaged 5.1 points over 65 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague appearances with Barca between 2015 and 2018, but his time there coincided with a difficult period for the team.
A new opportunity came with Vezenkov's return to Greece in 2018 to join mighty Olympiacos Piraeus. And after spending the first couple of seasons gradually establishing himself, in the last two Vezenkov has truly started to fulfill all his potential.
The 2.06-meter forward averaged 11.5 points and 5.4 rebounds during the 2020-21 season, but really stepped up to an elite level in the current campaign with averages of 13.7 points and 5.8 rebounds. His 17.8 performance index rating average proved to be the sixth-best in the competition.
Vezenkov's importance to Olympiacos is reflected by the fact that he started all 36 games this season, totaling the third-most minutes (1,081) of any EuroLeague player. His talents earned wider recognition as he was chosen the MVP for February.
At 26, Vezenkov is approaching the prime of his career with an already deep cache of EuroLeague experience – 186 games and counting – that puts him in a great position to not only maintain but also build upon the form he has shown in the last 24 months. Combining good size and athleticism, he is versatile enough to shoot from outside, create on the perimeter, or drive inside to score tough baskets from close range with the same toughness and competitive spirit that make him an excellent rebounder.
Vezenkov is also very consistent. He is heading to the Final Four after scoring in double digits in 15 of his last 16 EuroLeague games, the only exception being Game 5 of the playoff series against Monaco, when he still contributed fully by providing 9 points and 7 rebounds.
Now that he's reached the top, Vezenkov is determined to stay there. A strong showing on the biggest stage of European basketball would be more confirmation that Sasha Vezenkov has earned his place among the continent's very best players.