The Mega Way
”The Mega Way”
MHJ Features Mega Bemax of Belgrade, Serbia and its recent success in the NBA Draft and the origins of the team and its unique formula for developing it’s young players.
Since the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement stopped high school players from declaring for the NBA Draft in 2005, a lot of college programs in general – and Kentucky in particular – have had players entering the draft after just one year.
The so called ”One and Done”- the phenomenon is a unique thing that has made American universities look more like NBA factories rather than actual schools. And who can blame them? But how about Europe? Have you heard of KK Avala Ada? Probably not. How about Mega Leks, Mega Vizura, KK Mega Hypo Leasing, Mega Aqua Monta, Mega Ishrana, Mega Bemax or KK Mega Basket? No, I’m not writing about different characters from the Mega Man games, even though it’s arguably one of the best games ever made.
Let me break it down for you. KK Mega Basket, Mega Vizura, Mega Leks, Mega Hypo Leasing, Mega Aqua Monta, Mega Ishrana and Mega Bemax is the same European club. The names have changed due to different sponsorship deals. It was established in Belgrade in 1998 by a couple of basketball enthusiasts working for Avala Ada packing factory, and their history is pretty impressive. In 1999 KK Avala Ada’s men’s team won the regional league in the city of Belgrade, qualifying for the Serbian fourth tier. Three years later they qualified for the third tier after beating KK Vrbas and KK Zeta in the qualifying playoff round. Before the 2004/2005 season, the sports agency BeoBasket, with Europes most prestigious agent Misko Raznatovic in the driver’s seat, took control of the club, making it a pipeline to bigger teams and clubs for both current and future clients.
Do you want to know what else they have been doing the last couple of years except changing names? Would you believe me if I said that the Serbian club has been preparing their players for top European clubs and the NBA Draft? Mega Bemax has had nine players drafted since 2014. That’s the highest amount of players being drafted out of a club outside of the USA in a three year-stretch EVER. To put in perspective how successful Mega Bemax has been in the NBA Draft, Kentucky, the NCAA powerhouse, has had 14 players drafted since 2014 and six players drafted since 2016. Mega has had nine players drafted since 2014 and had tied Kentucky with six players drafted the last two years.
I mean, you’ve probably heard of Nikola Jokic. You know, Denver Nuggets starting center. The guys with the flashy passes who put up a couple of triple-doubles and numerous double-doubles last season. He played there, Timothy Luwawu-Cabarot from the Philadelphia 76ers played there and also Ivica Zubac from the Los Angeles Lakers. This year you’ll hopefully also see the super talented Serbian small forward Rade Zagorac play for the Memphis Grizzlies and the current Adidas Eurocamp MVP, Ognjen Jaramaz, make an impact on the New York Knicks. However, Mega Bemax made their debut in the Serbian first tier, also known as ”Serbian Super League”, as late as in 2009 after merging KK Mega Hypo Leasing with KK Vizura, making KK Mega Vizura the place to be for young and talented players that didn’t play for Partizan or Red Star.
During the years we’ve seen players like Nikola Pekovic (retired), Boban Marjanovic (Detroit Pistons), Vasilje Micic (drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers but currently playing for Zalgiris Kaunas), Marko Keselj (Red Star Belgrade), Novica Velickovic (Partizan Belgrade) and Nemanja Dangubic (drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, traded to the San Antonio Spurs but currently playing for Red Star Belgrade) making their cases with the club on the national stage before joining European powerhouses and different NBA franchises.
So, what’s the secret behind the ”Mega way”? In an interview with the Serbian newspaper ”Blic” Misko Raznatovic explained: ”Not too long ago Mega established a system where the player’s individual development as a priority, not winning games. The system gets refined and re-developed from year to year and continuity is a very important aspect of it, something we have with coach Dejan Milojevic. It’s a whole other story today, and it’s easier to work because of the reputation Mega has gained during the years. We now get calls from talented players from all over the continent, and they all want to play for the club. When you put all of this in a good system and combine it with extremely hard working and talented players the results eventually come. […] I’m sure this fairy tale will continue during next years draft.”
It’s not too complicated, really, and it’s not crazy to think or say that Mega Bemax probably is the best fit in Europe for young players to showcase their skills since they’re getting a lot of playing time, a good coach and will have access to better facilities from next year. On top of that, they have the Serbian super agent Misko making his presence felt almost every game, and his credibility in the world of basketball is larger than anything else. Suddenly we’re looking at something that is not too different from what’s going on the colleges and universities in the States. Mega Bemax is truly the becoming an NBA /Euroleague Factory for high level young European players. The Universty of Kentucky of Europe.