19-year-old Luka Šamanić Talks New NBA Career in San Antonio

Daniela Rogulj

Croatia’s NBA players will be joined by yet another colleague next season. Namely, 19-year-old Luka Šamanić was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs to be the seventh Croat in the NBA this season. And better yet, the 210-centimeter power forward was the great wish of legendary coach Gregg Popovich.

Gol.hr reports on July 31, 2019, that the promising basketballer went to Barcelona three years ago and spent the last season at Olimpija in Slovenia. But after a brief experience in European basketball, Luka is on his way to the pot of gold – the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs.

“I had just that one season at Olimpija. I played a lot of minutes because we had three competitions after that season – there were both good and bad times. I spoke with my family and I think I’m ready, mentally ready to go there (NBA), to work and try to fight out there,” Luka Šamanić told Nova TV.

The young Croatia national team player was the great desire of legendary coach Gregg Popovich – and just how badly Popovich wanted him is proven by the fact that he was elected as the 19th pick. 

“Before the draft, I spoke to an agent who told me between 16 and 35. They told me you could be 16, and you could be 35, that the draft is always unpredictable, and you never know what’s going to happen. I was ready for anything, and I secretly wanted San Antonio because they have some history with Europe and when I heard that I was 19, I was overjoyed,” explained the Croatian basketball player.

Tim Duncan is an assistant to Popovich this season, and Luka has already met the legend of the NBA league and American basketball.

“I was at the pre-draft workout, before the draft, and we went to dinner. I didn’t even know that he was going to be there. I thought there would only be people from San Antonio. When I saw him and saw Gregg, that is something that does not happen every day. And we didn’t talk at all about basketball, it was all about how I was doing in school, how many languages I speak, things to fit into their San Antonio family,” said Šamanić.

In the tests leading up to the draft, Luka was brilliant. As a European, he was a complete stranger to the media who are used to tracking future NBA stars through college.

“And then when you jump a meter high, all of a sudden everybody wonders what, how, who. It was all a joke before, but I knew it and just waited to go there and show them, and it paid off,” said the promising player.

Šamanić has chosen the number 19, which is full of symbolism, and the expectations from his debut season are looking to be realistic.

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