Santi Aldama, for a milestone

A candidate in the 2021 Draft, he could be the first Spaniard to reach the NBA since college. In the forecasts it appears in the second round.


The NBA Draft is here and, for the Spanish public, it will be of special interest. Mainly, by the presence of Usman Garuba. The current Real Madrid player, in Tokyo playing the Olympic Games with the National Team, will be chosen in a prominent position. In the ESPN forecasts, in its Mock Draft, Azuqueca de Henares appears in the 14th selection, at the limit of the lottery elections (1 to 14). That is the best scenario that arises, being able to climb a few more positions thanks to its current international exposure; the worst places him in the picks that go from position 20 to 25. His season in the capital, with a flavor of confirmation, has placed him on the agenda of many franchises, which see him as one of the great defensive values of the litter. He will be the next Spanish player to land in the best league in the world after Hernangómez, but he might not be the only one.

Santi Aldama could also gain a foothold. And, in his case, starring in a historic milestone: he would be the first Spanish player to reach the NBA since the NCAA, the university competition. It had never happened before. In all cases, the jump has come from Europe. Aldama, like so many others, chose to anticipate and begin his university studies in the United States, combining them with sports practice. This year, he has finished his second year in his studies equivalent to Business Administration and Management and has also decided to make the leap to professionalism. According to the most widespread forecasts, to land in the NBA, his priority. Since 1979, according to data from NCAA Spain, more than 80 Spaniards have competed in Division I of the NCAA and Aldama, if confirmed in the Draft, would be the first to make the leap to the best league in the world. .

In his sophomore year at Loyola-Maryland College, he has been able to show his full potential. In the first, he could not due to a severe knee injury: he had to undergo surgery and only played 10 official matches. In Spain, however, his talent is already well known: in the European Under-18 in Greece, held in 2019, he was one of the most prominent names in the competition, getting the MVP. In it, precisely, he shared Selection with Garuba, being the most dominant couple in the championship. This season, he has averaged 21.2 points and 10.2 rebounds, with 51.3% from the field and 36.8% from the perimeter. Power forward, but based on training categories, combines those two facets that are so popular in today's basketball: the ability to influence the inner game (2.11 meters high) and, at the same time, a good hand, both in the distribution as in shooting. He has shown everything, being the leader of his team and leaving him on the verge of contesting the March Madness.

With all this, his name could appear in the elections of the second round of the Draft. There, or near, is where most forecasts are placed. On ESPN, they rank him 58th; in USA Today in the 55th and in The Athletic or Basketball News, the best scenario, in the 40th. In order of mention, it would mean calling the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies. Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, are franchises with two or more (Pelicans, three) picks in close positions. If any of the possibilities occurred, Aldama would fulfill a dream, as he has made clear on multiple occasions: "Two years ago, I decided to leave Spain knowing that Loyola was the right place to pursue my dream of being a professional basketball player in the NBA", remarked in the statement with which, on April 14, he announced his intention to appear for the Draft. Now, it is closer than ever. And historically.

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