Dmitry Kulagin and Edgaras Ulanovas named Young Players of the Year

Triumph guard Dmitry Kulagin and Neptunas forward Edgaras Ulanovas have been named the 2013-2014 VTB United League Young Players of the Year.

Presented by the VTB United League and Russian sports website Championat.com, the honor goes to the top young player of the 2013/2014 VTB United League season (must be 23 years or younger in June 2014). Several factors were taken into account in determining the winners: The results of each month of the regular season, following which the three top young players were recognized; players’ efficiency rating; and the opinion of the League’s expert panel and Championat.com. The League’s expert panel features seven basketball greats from five League countries: Ivan Edeshko (Russia), Jiri Zidek (Czech Republic), Ilona Korstin (Russia), Armand Kraulins (Latvia), Tomas Pacesas (Lithuania), Sergei Tarakanov (Russia) and Heino Enden (Estonia).

Two players, Dmitry Kulagin of Triumph and Edgaras Ulanovas of Neptunas, ended in a tie for first place with seven points apiece. As a result, both the Russian guard and the Lithuanian forward have been recognized as this year’s Young Players of the Year. They beat out Nymburk center Rasid Mahalbasic (6 points), VEF center Derrick Nix (4 points) and Azovmash center Kyrylo Natyazhko (3 points).

Joint awards are not quite as rare in basketball as you might think. In the NBA, for instance, the Rookie of the Year award has been split three times, most recently in the 1999-2000 season, when both Elton Brand and Steve Francis were recognized.

During the VTB United League regular season, Dmitry Kulagin played 17 games, averaging 8.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and an efficiency rating of 8.3. Edgaras Ulanovas, meanwhile, played in 18 games, averaging 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and an efficiency rating of 11.5. We should note that Kulagin’s team, Triumph Lyubertsy, reached the playoffs after finishing in 3rd place in Group B, while Ulanovas’ Neptunas missed the postseason.

The Young Player of the Year prizes will be awarded during the playoffs.

- Thanks to the VTB United League for this recognition, - said Dmitry Kulagin. – It’s very important that a lot of attention in this league is paid to young players. I could have played better this season, but I still think I took a step forward. I’d also like to congratulate Edgaras Ulanovas with his award—he’s got a ton of potential. As for the League itself, it was very interesting. Triumph had highs and occasional lows, but overall it was a successful season. We’re hoping for a good showing in the playoffs.

- I’m very happy to receive such a prestigious honor, - said Edgaras Ulanovas. – First of all, I’d like to thank my team. At Neptunas, I had the opportunity to show what I can do and contend for this prize. Although we didn’t manage to make the playoffs, I’m happy that the team is moving forward.

Young Player of the Year selection process

Top 3 each month*:
1. Edgaras Ulanovas (Neptunas) – 3 points (twice 1st, once 2nd and once 3rd)
2. Dmitry Kulagin (Triumph) – 2 points (twice 1st, once 3rd)
2. Rasid Mahalbasic (Nymburk) – 2 points (once 1st, twice 2nd)
4. Kyrylo Natyazhko (Azovmash) – 1 point (twice 2nd, twice 3rd)
* - 3 points for finishing 1st in each month’s Top 3, 2 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd.

Efficiency rating:
1. Derrick Nix (VEF) – 3 points (14.8 per game)
2. Rasid Mahalbasic (Nymburk) – 2 points (13.7)
3. Kyrylo Natyazhko (Azovmash) – 1 point (12.1)

VTB United League expert panel:
1. Dmitry Kulagin (Triumph) – 3 points (4 votes)
2. Rasid Mahalbasic (Nymburk) – 2 points (2 votes)
3. Kyrylo Natyazhko (Azovmash) – 1 point (1 vote)

Championat.com experts:
1. Edgaras Ulanovas (Neptunas) – 3 points
2. Dmitry Kulagin (Triumph) – 2 points
3. Derrick Nix (VEF) – 1 point

1. Dmitry Kulagin (Triumph), Edgaras Ulanovas (Neptunas) – 7 points apiece
2. Rasid Mahalbasic (Nymburk) – 6 points
3. Derrick Nix (VEF) – 4 points
4. Kyrylo Natyazhko (Azovmash) – 3 points