The son of former world champion Alexander Kharchenkov is already making a name for himself.
Emotions come after the game for Bayern star talent Kharchenkov
If you look at Ivan Kharchenkov’s facial expressions, you wouldn’t know if U18 FC Bayern Munich Basketball is winning or losing a game at the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament Podgorica or if he is on fire or in a slump. It’s all part of the winning DNA built into the talented guard who has already collected an impressive list of achievements.
Kharchenkov was very excited to get onto the ANGT court in Podgorica after he missed last season’s ANGT Munich event with an injury. The German teenager has made up for lost time and shown in the Montenegro capital why is one of the most dynamic prospects on the continent. Kharchenkov averaged 20.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the group stage in Group B.
“I was really looking forward to this tournament because I was hurt last season during the ANGT Munich. I want to compete against my age group and show my best on a really high level where players like Luka Doncic and many more showed themselves,” said the 1.98-meter guard, who just missed out on playing in Munich in January 2023.
“It was really devastating because it was a home-court advantage and the fans. It was tough for me to get over it but I made the most of it. I watched the games and supported my teammates as best I could. And now I am here and I am happy.”
Kharchenkov even helped out the ANGT staff at last season’s Munich event, serving as the interpreter for Desmond Yiamu since he speaks Russian and Yiamu could not speak in English or German as a war refugee from Ukraine.
Kharchenkov speaks Russian because he was born in Moscow in 2006 to a father who had a successful playing career, including playing 22 years for CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Moscow and Spartak St. Petersburg. Father Alexander Kharchenkov was also a member of the Soviet Union team that won the title at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 1974.
Ivan’s father was the leading force behind his development in the game, even driving him long distances for practices before the young talent joined Bayern and moved into the dorm of the club’s Bayern campus.
Ivan said his relationship with his father really hasn’t changed much but what has evolved is what the two basketball junkies talk about.
“The things we talk about now compared to like five years ago have become more detailed. Smaller mistakes are being addressed more now than bigger mistakes were discussed when I was 12,” said Kharchenkov, who has been with Bayern since 2018.
Bayern management has recognized the potential of Kharchenkov, who will not turn 18 until September 20, 2024, and gave him his first appearances with the senior last season.
On November 19, 2022, he made history in the German League by playing 4:29 minutes and scoring 5 points - hitting his only three-point attempt and both of his free throws - against SYNTAINICS MBC. That made him at 16 years 1 month and 29 days the youngest scorer in the league since the start of data collection in 1998.
“I wasn’t even expecting it. I was working on my craft and one day somebody called me up and said you’re traveling tomorrow with the BBL [team] and it happened. I was really happy about it.”
Kharchenkov ended up appearing in three German League games last season and has collected 15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 56 minutes over four German League games this season.
He came into the 2023-24 season on a high after helping Germany finish third at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2023 - the first medal the country collected at the age category.
“I was really proud of my team. It was history. I think we can really be proud of ourselves,” said Kharchenkov, who served as captain despite being a year younger.
Kharchenkov participated in Bayern’s pro team’s pre-season training camp after the U18 tournament and also has played in three EuroLeague games for Bayern this season, scoring 8 points with 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes.
“I really learned the physicality of the game. Everybody is physical and the game is non-stop. So even if you are asleep for one second there can be another situation. And the intensity,” said Kharchenkov, who scored 4 points on 1-of-5 three-point shooting in nearly 16 minutes against Olympiacos Piraeus in Round 13.
Those three-pointers taken speak for Kharchenkov and his fearlessness, full conviction and zero hesitation for his game. And his game is dynamic.
In the third division with Bayern’s second team, he is averaging 21.2 points on 29.2% three-point shooting with 7.4 triples attempted per game and 8.0 free throws attempted per game. Because of his quickness to the basket, he has taken at least 10 free throws six times in the league, including making 15 of 17 in one game. He has also collected 4.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals in nearly 30 minutes per game.
And all that without showing his poker face - either positively or negatively.
“A lot of people ask about it. I guess just because I am focused, maybe because I don’t react to anything like it’s the worst or the best. I’m just trying to stay focused. The emotions can be after the game,” Kharchenkov said.
Just watching Kharchenkov around the team it’s not hard to see a leader gene in his blood.
“I always try to be aggressive and get everybody involved so that we can play as a team. That also helped develop my leadership skills. Because I only ask from other people what I ask from myself,” he said.
Just don’t ask him to show emotions on the court.