Estonian wing Henri Drell has submitted paperwork to the league office to make himself eligible for the 2019 NBA draft.
"My intentions are to put my name in the draft and show NBA teams that I am an NBA player," Drell told ESPN. "I hope to achieve my goal of having NBA teams acknowledge that I can play in this league."
Drell, the No. 55 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, is having a productive season in Germany splitting time between first-division team Bamberg, their second-division affiliate Baunach, and U19 NBBL League team TSV Breitengussbach, averaging 14.3 points in 27 minutes through 42 games between the three competitions. He made his debut with the Estonian senior national team in February as part of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, a rare feat for an 18-year-old. He will turn 19 next week.
"I want to have the most successful end to the Bamberg season as possible," Drell said. "Winning means everything to me and until that is achieved it's hard for me to focus on other things. I will come to the United States in May and I will work out for teams, that much I know."
Measured at 6-foot-9 in shoes, with a 7-foot wingspan, Drell is intriguing to NBA teams. Despite his size, he is a capable ball-handler who frequently operates out of pick-and-roll sets, and converted 39 percent of his 3-pointers in the NBBL league this season. His length and athleticism gives him some defensive versatility he should be able to tap into as his frame continues to mature. Drell says he is looking forward to putting his skill set on full display for NBA teams during the pre-draft process.
"I would like to show teams that I can shoot, penetrate past my defender and make the right play. I am more athletic than they may know and I have a very good understanding of the game. Mainly I want them to see my passion for the sport. I love to play basketball. I don't think many players have my work ethic. To me it is not really "work" because I love the game so much. What teams will also see in me is a player that will strive to continually improve. I have a lot to learn and I'll always work harder than anyone else to improve my game."
Drell has long been considered among the top European prospects in his generation, making numerous appearances with the Estonian national team at FIBA tournaments and being one of 12 players invited to the prestigious international select team at the NBA Global Camp in Treviso last June. He left his home country as a 16-year-old to sign in Germany with Bamberg, who were once known as one of the top development clubs in Europe. Should Drell get drafted this June, he will become the first Estonian player picked since Martin Muursepp in 1996, and only the second Estonian player drafted overall.
"I am proud of my Estonian heritage and I do my best to represent my country with honor every time I step on a basketball court," Drell said. "This would be an important moment for Estonian basketball and it would make me so incredibly proud to be part of it."