Some have been gone for as little as a year, one returns after nearly a decade, another has been back and forth more than once, and yet another once held the rank of team captain. What they all have in common is that they signed contracts this summer to put on jerseys they had worn in the past, reuniting in most cases with the teams for which they made their Turkish Airlines EuroLeague debuts.
Metecan Birsen, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul brought Metecan Birsen home on a multi-year deal. Birsen had a very successful career in the junior ranks. While playing for U18 Fenerbahce as a 17-year-old, he was the MVP of the 2012 Adidas Next Generation Tournament Finals. He also made his EuroLeague debut with Fenerbahce in the 2013-14 campaign, when he appeared in eight games. Seven years later and at age 26, Birsen is back with Fenerbahce as a grown, experienced forward.
Jake Cohen, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
Big man Jake Cohen arrives to Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv without needing to adjust to a new team or a new city. After all, Cohen spent five of the previous seven years, between 2013 and 2020, with Maccabi. In that time, he appeared in 87 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games. Last season, he played for Monbus Obradoiro, where he was worth 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in Spanish League action. Expect him to be warmly welcomed by his second family: Maccabi fans.
Jayson Granger, Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Jayson Granger starts a second stint with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz with high hopes and ambition. He only played 12 EuroLeague games in his last two EuroLeague seasons with Baskonia due to injuries. Last season, Granger averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 assists in 28 EuroLeague games for ALBA Berlin, which he led to the German League title as the finals MVP. Athletic, charismatic and experienced, Granger returns to Baskonia at the prime of his career.
Mantas Kalnietis, Zalgiris Kaunas
Mantas Kalnietis returns to Zalgiris Kaunas to play for his hometown team. Kalnietis grew up with Zalgiris and has played parts of nine seasons with its senior team, including 104 EuroLeague games. He helped the club win the Lithuanian League, Lithuanian Cup and Baltic League four times each and last played for Zalgiris in the first half of the 2015-16 season. Kalnietis made it to the All-EuroCup Second Team last season with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
Sergey Karasev, Zenit St Petersburg
Born in St Petersburg, Sergey Karasev started to play for his current club when it was called Triumph Lyubertsy. He went on to be coached by his father, the legendary Sergey Karasev, and later returned after it was rebranded as Zenit St Petersburg. Karasev had a terrific EuroCup run with Zenit, averaging 15.3 points in 49 games. After playing a more limited role with Khimki Moscow Region, Karasev is back in his hometown with a third stint with Zenit, this time on the biggest stage, the EuroLeague!
Nicolo Melli, AX Armani Exchange Milan
A lot has changed since Nicolo Melli left AX Armani Exchange Milan in 2015. Melli was named to the 2016-17 All-EuroLeague Second Team with Brose Bamberg and reached Final Fours with Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in 2018 and 2019. He even scored 28 points in the 2018 championship game in a losing effort against Real Madrid. Melli was close to winning the EuroLeague and hopes his experience and versatility leads Milan to its first continental crown since 1988.
Luka Mitrovic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Luka Mitrovic first joined Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade in 2012 and played for the Serbian powerhouse until 2017. He went on to play in Germany, Spain and Montenegro before returning to Zvezda. Last season, he saw limited playing time with Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, averaging 2.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14 EuroCup games. He brings plenty of experience and commitment, which should be highly appreciated by the youngest players at the club. At age 28, Mitrovic is a young veteran who knows the EuroLeague well.
Yakuba Ouattara, AS Monaco
Yakuba Ouattara is a fan-favorite for AS Monaco fans, who saw him in action for four seasons, including in the 7DAYS EuroCup in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Ouattara plays strong, on-the-ball defense and makes an impact on offense with his three-point shooting and high-flying dunks. After playing for Coosur Real Betis in Spain last season, Ouattara returns to Monaco to make his EuroLeague debut with the Principality powerhouse.
Alexey Shved, CSKA Moscow
It was one of the biggest off-season moves. Alexey Shved is returning to CSKA Moscow, with whom he made his EuroLeague debut almost 15 years ago. Shved is an offensive tsunami who has won the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy twice, including last season when averaged 19.8 points for Khimki Moscow Region. He was crowned EuroLeague champion as a 19-year-old with CSKA in 2008 after appearing in eight games that season and helped the team reach the championship game in 2012.
Nate Wolters, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Since making his EuroLeague debut with Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade in 2016, Nate Wolters has been a contributor at big clubs all over Europe. He played a season each with Zalgiris Kaunas and Maccabi Tel Aviv and last season helped UNICS Kazan reach the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals. Wolters reunites with several familiar faces in Belgrade, including Coach Dejan Radonjic, who no doubt knows the responsibility and vision Wolters brings to his backcourt.
Seen at: Euroleague.net