Israeli wing Deni Avdija has submitted paperwork to the league office to make himself eligible for the 2020 NBA draft, he announced on ESPN's Get Up on Thursday morning.
"First of all, the NBA is the best league in the world. There is a lot to learn over there and a lot of experience there," Avdija said. "It's going to be great to take my game to the next level."
Avdija, the No. 5 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, plays in the EuroLeague and Israeli league for Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging 7 points, 4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 19 minutes per game. He was named MVP of the FIBA U20 European Championship after leading Israel to a gold medal over the summer while averaging 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game.
Avdija has long been considered the top international prospect in his age group. He was named MVP of the NBA's Basketball Without Borders events in Tel Aviv and Charlotte, North Carolina, last year.
The 6-foot-9 Avdija slides seamlessly between point guard and power forward, and improved considerably as a defender this season while playing a complementary role for Maccabi Tel Aviv as it contended for the EuroLeague final four. His team was in first place in the Israeli league at 18-1 and tied for fourth in the EuroLeague at 19-9 when its season was suspended last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Avdija declined to make comparisons between himself and any potential NBA opponents or teammates.
"Listen, I'll tell you honestly, I don't like to be compared to anybody," he told Get Up. "I think each player has his own path and each player has his own skills and things he does good. And I think I just want to be the best Deni I can be. I just don't want people to compare me to anybody. I respect everybody, but I just want to be me."
Avdija's father, Zufer, was a 6-8 sharpshooter who played for the Yugoslav national team but immigrated to Israel to play professional basketball. He met Deni's mother there.