European Prospects

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Europeans having won the NCAA National Championship

April 4th, 2011 · 4 Comments

With two Germans (Niels Giffey, Enosch Wolf) in the race to win the National Championship of NCAA Basketball tonight, I was looking backwards to see how many Europeans have so far won this trophy and what they are up to at the moment. This list is certainly not complete and it will be updated throughout the evening so if you have information on other Europeans, please email me or add them to the comments.

  • Swen Nater (Netherlands) with UCLA in 1972 and 1973. He played 11 seasons in the ABA/NBA afterwards. After having built a Basketball program afterwards in San Diego, he now works for Costco and has three goats, two dogs and five cats on his 10-acre ranch outside of Seattle.


  • Timo Makkonen (Finland) with North Carolina in 1982.
  • Magnus Pelkowski (German-Colombian) with Indiana in 1987. He played several seasons in Germany after his College career. He lives now as an artist and landscape architect in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.
  • Crawford Palmer (USA-France) with Duke in 1991. After the title at Duke, Palmer transfered to Dartmouth and played several seasons of professional Basketball in France. When he earned a French passport, he continued his career even in the ACB and won the Silver Medal with the French National Team at the 2000 Olympics. After having ended his career, he got an administrative job at the French Basketball Federation.
  • Christian Ast (Germany) with Duke University in 1991 and 1992.After two seasons with Duke, Ast moved to American University and played several seasons in Germany until he retired in 2006.
  • Henrik Rödl (Germany) with North Carolina in 1993. Rödl was one of the most decorated German players of all time as he won the European Championship, the Korac Cup and several German Championships with ALBA Berlin. After he retired, he started coaching and won the German Cup in 2006. After having lead the ALBA Youth Teams to National Title in 2009. He is Head Coach of TBB Trier in the German Bundesliga since 2010.


  • Dante Calabria (USA-Italy) with North Carolina in 1993. Calabria was a journey man in Europe after his career at North Carolina waiting for his Italian citizenship which he got in 2000. He played several seasons on the highest European level an even was a member of the Italian National team at the Eurobasket 2005. He is still active today and plays for the Italian third division team Nuove Frontiere Sant’Antimo.

  • Davor Rimac (Croatia) with Arkansas in 1994. After having graduated Rimac played several seasons in Croatia before moving to Switzerland in 2000 where he finished his career in 2005.
  • Jiri Zidek (Czech Republic) with UCLA in 1995. Zidek played several seasons in the NBA before he moved to Zalgiris Kaunas and become the first and only European to have won the NCAA National Championship and the Euroleague. He finished his career in 2005 and works as Consultant for Euroleague TV now. The Zidek family is until today the only family where both father (Jiri Sr.) and son have reached a Euroleague Final.


  • Ben Gordon (UK-USA) with the University of Connecticut in 2004. After being drafted by the Chicago Bulls as 3rd overall pick, Gordon is still an active NBA player and is now a member of the Detroit Pistons. He could play for the UK National Team this summer during the Eurobasket in Lithuania.


  • Joakim Noah (France) with the University of Florida in 2006 and 2007. Noah got drafted as 9th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls and is still an active NBA player. Several nations try to get him on their National team but he will most likely decide to play for France. His father was a famous Tennis player while his grand-father was a professional soccer player originally from Cameroon.


  • Sasha Kaun (Russia) with the University of Kansas in 2008. Kaun was drafted in 2008 by the Sonics but he never played in the NBA and signed for the Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow in 2008. He reached the Euroleague Final Four twice but never won the supreme European title.


  • Niels Giffey (Germany) and Enosch Wolf (Germany) with the University of Connecticut in 2011. Both won the title in their Freshman year.

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 juan cobos // Apr 5, 2011 at 12:33 am

    you might include crawford palmer. he won it all with duke.

    truth is he was only american then, but he later became a french citizen even winning the silver medal in sidney

  • 2 Christophe // Apr 5, 2011 at 7:23 am

    true, I included Crawford as he holds a European passport, even if he was American when he won the title. The same goes for Dante Calabria who won the title in 1993 with North Carolina and played for the Italian National Team later on.

    And now of course, I added Niels Giffey and Enosch Wolf who won the title this night

  • 3 firebrand // Apr 8, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Including Ben Gordon and Joakim Noah as “European” players is quite the stretch, don’t you think? Ben Gordon may have been born in London, but he grew up in New York. And Noah was born in New York. That they may play for foreign teams doesn’t diminish their Americanness one-bit. They both are most certainly NOT European.

  • 4 JCG // Apr 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I think that Noah though he grew up as a basketball player in the USA, first learned the game in Levallois-Paris with coach Ron Stewart – former St John’s U player. When he was something like 16 he told his mother that he should go to the states in order to really improve. Stewart later admitted that he felt that Noah was not that talented nor tall. And Noah has a French passeport and a swedish mother, which in my opinion makes him QUITE european.

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