Spanish basketball star Sergio Llull has been a prominent player in the EuroLeague for many years, but his impact on European basketball has been immense.
As the biggest star on Real Madrid, Sergio Llull’s star power was evident even when he was just a teenager. He started playing in La Salle Mao, a youth club where his grandfather coached and his father previously played.
Scouts were amazed at how naturally talented Llull was at the age of 15. He was scoring 71 points and dishing out 19 assists in a single game. The match report is hanging proudly on the walls of his home. He reminisced about the game saying, ‘I remember my 71 points and 19 assists well. It was a Cadet League match in Menorca, we were playing at home against the second-placed team in the division and we won’.
Of course, that kind of talent would not go unnoticed, scouts came knocking on his door. He was underwhelming in his first professional season, but Real Madrid’s legendary coach Pablo Laso believed that his potential is too large to ignore.
Former Sacramento Kings and Real Madrid player Joe Arlauckas said, ‘Just like he did with Dončić and Mirotić, he finds the talent and knows how to build their confidence’.
The NBA’s Houston Rockets acquired the draft rights for Llull in 2009. Rockets international player scout Marko Radovanovic believed that Llull is the player that the Rockets needed. He said, ‘Llull is a perfect fit for our system. He speeds up the game; he sparks up the entire team. Obviously, some things have changed. He could carve out a role. He would be a great spark off the bench’.
Even a decade later, the Rockets are still interested in him. There have been personnel changes in the point guard department for Houston to pair alongside James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chris Paul and now Russell Westbrook.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey spoke about Llull saying, ‘A lot of the great international players come over at Sergio’s age or later. We’re here with open arms when he wants to do it. He’s got a lot to accomplish there and here, so we’ll see’. He compares it to what Pablo Prigioni did in the past.
He won the EuroLeague MVP in 2017 with Real Madrid. Llull also became the de facto mentor to a young Luka Dončić who is now a superstar player with the Dallas Mavericks. When asked about the prospect of playing in the NBA, Llull said, ‘Of course it’s hard to say no, because the NBA is very tempting on all levels. But I’ve explained many times that I’m happy here with Real Madrid. I want to stay here and keep winning’.
Whatever he decides to do in the future, he has definitely proven how one can be a superstar outside of the NBA system.