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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CSKA's Kirilenko Picked As NBA's Top European

Andrei Kirilenko, an 18-year-old forward from St. Petersburg, became the youngest European to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft after Utah Jazz chose the CSKA Moscow rookie.

Kirilenko is only the third Russian player to be picked in the NBA draft.

The 2.05-meter player, who has only played one season with the Russian champion, heard that he was the 24th pick early Thursday morning when his agent notified him by telephone.

"I was just so happy when I learned the news. Now all the lads in the youth team are coming up to me and giving me strange looks," Kirilenko said in an interview with Sport Express at the Russian national youth team's training center outside Moscow.

"Everyone was very surprised that I was chosen at such a high number," Kirilenko said. "Even though I've never even been to America f and to be honest, never had any desire to go."

Kirilenko, who made his debut in the Russian league at the age of 15, came to CSKA from Spartak St. Petersburg after he was named the best young player of the 1997-98 season.

Kirilenko averaged 13.2 points and 4.1 rebounds the next season and was picked for the 1998-99 Russian All-Star game, scoring 13 points for the West and winning the slam-dunk contest.

Kirilenko was pleased that Utah picked him.

"I like Utah," Kirilenko was quoted by Sport Express as saying, "They have two of the best players in the league [in] John Stockton and Karl Malone, and one of the best trainers in the NBA, Jerry Sloan."

Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Donnie Nelson was cautiously optimistic on the NBA's web site about the young forward.

"He's very interesting. He's rangy and a slasher right now. He didn't have the best year last year, but he's got a great body at 6' 8". He can put the ball to the floor and is a decent shooter," Nelson said.

Kirilenko will have time to improve, though it's unlikely that he will be heading for the NBA soon.

"It's early for him to play there," basketball journalist Pavel Osipov said in a telephone interview Friday.

Kirilenko seems in no hurry to make the move, "I'll go to America after two years when my contract with CSKA finishes," Kirilenko was quoted as saying in Friday's Sport Express.