Power forward Yaroslav Korolev is a unique athlete. His appearance in basketball happened quickly. Of the “Junior” Saratov “Avtodor” the schoolboy who dreams about the NBA, for the year soared to the capital. And CSKA in 2004 had to put a lot of effort for the signing of such a bright talent. Everyone understood — this athletic giant with a growth of two feet a great future.
Indeed, Queens was perfect for basketball. 208 cm, 111 kg, but athletic, long arms, nice shot, good court vision. He hasn’t played in the adult League, but scouts have already predicted a great future.
The prophecy came true.
It Yaroslav the Queen holds the record for NBA Russians selected in the draft. To jump over its 12-th number (draft-2005) failed to either Andrei Kirilenkoor Sergey Karasevor Sergei Monet with Viktor Khryapa. Needless to say that many fellow scouts didn’t pay attention as he passed them. It is no exaggeration to say that Yaroslav was considered the most promising Russian player in recent history.
Since we are talking about records, it is impossible not to mention about the fact that the Queen owns another achievement, only at the level of the entire League. It still ranks in the top ten of the youngest players selected in the draft. At the time of the debut in the strongest League in the world, he was 18 years and 181 days. Above him in this list players like Kobe Bryant and Tracy Macgrady.
Korolev made no secret that preparing for the NBA and it was his childhood dream. He knew English fairly well and even spoke Spanish, and he is trained by his father, who made him one of the best players of his age not only in Russia but also in Europe.
Yaroslav remembered something amazing in the “Los Angeles clippers”, although the club believed the Russian guy. At the end of December 2005 Korolev played perhaps his best match in the ocean. In the guest match against “the Bobcats” Russians have not only spent almost 14 minutes, but converted 3 of 6 shots, scoring 7 points.
Curiously, his most striking point, the striker believes the interception of the transfer of Kobe Bryant. Then our player “clippers” rushed into the lead and waited for the block shot from Lamar Odom. What names!
Finest hour Yaroslav would be a pre-season friendly match against CSKA. Then in October 2006 to the current Euroleague champion in the house club of Los Angeles, which just played Queens. But time has given him quite a bit, and the team and all big losers.
The main factor in the crushing defeat of the clippers was named the functional unavailability, since the Californians started their pre-season. And yet they had to abandon the Charter and fly to the capital of Russia “regular season” with a stopover in Frankfurt. Rumor has it that this path was extremely difficult given even the American players, accustomed to frequent flights while playing in the NBA.
Despite the excellent and comprehensive preparation for the NBA to become the first Queen and failed. He stayed to clippers a couple of seasons, and then decided to seek his fortune in Europe. One of the few personal victories in the strongest League in the world was the situation with “hazing” when rookies forced to buy donuts, wearing backpacks, or come to the home games in funny costumes. Too serious Russian guy just decided not to bother. On the other hand, the difference of mentality could also affect the Yaroslav to gain a foothold in the United States.
“I am very little bothered, to be honest. Because I was Russian, European, and teammates knew that I have no clue. I admit, at the moment I’m still very Moody all this attitude, because it was a continuation of the thrash current. It is also present at all training sessions. But I often took it to heart. Offended if something is said. They said, “Why are you offended? It’s game time”. It is very customary, they in the childhood cooked, so do not pay attention. It seemed to me that sometimes they crossed the threshold of my Russian education. They believed that did not pass. This was my adaptation. When touched, told to bring a suitcase, he replied: “leave me alone, I’m Russian! Not from your gang.” They laughed and released me. In addition, I was 18 years old, and they are more loyal to me,” said king in an interview with YouTube channel Top Basket.
In General, Queens has no regrets about moving to the US at an early age.
“Am I sorry? I myself spent many hours thinking about this question. And in the end came to the conclusion that you wouldn’t have to change anything. Though, because of the decisions I made that got to do with what I have right now a family favorite. Plus my contact with the NBA has helped parents to realize the old dream of moving to the USA, they now live and work there. And in the end, who in 18 years has declined the offer to go to the NBA? I don’t know,” admitted Korolev interview to “Sport-Express” in 2014.
However, from a gaming point of view the story of Yaroslav Korolev is largely sad. After all, he did not disclose his potential. It could go differently. It was just a lucky coincidence. The head coach of the clippers Mike dunlevy held a lottery of the Queen Avenue on the bench instead of giving the opportunity to get a practice game in the development League. Two years in the NBA Yaroslav played just 34 games, only five played more than 10 minutes. Hence the modest statistical indicators: 1.1 points and 0.5 rebounds. Perhaps the “clippers” should have let Yaroslav to gain match practice in Europe a year or two, but the choice under the 12-m peak was putting too high expectations on a player here and now.
After NBA Korolev tried to gain a foothold in the Moscow “Dynamo”, and then made another attempt to return to the NBA through the League’s development, but it did not. In 2010 he moved to the Spanish “Granada” and a year later appeared in another Iberian club “Lagun Aro”, where he was expelled in 2012. Then Yaroslav went to the St. Petersburg “Spartak” and sort of revived his career, gaining double-digit scoring in the European Cup — 10.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in the season 2013/2014. Soon, however, “Spartak” went bankrupt and Yaroslav had to find a new club. In 2014-2016 he played for the modest Greek “Panionios” and “Rethymno”, and ended his career in the “Navarre” of the second division of Spain. Great success did not happen. As a result, one of the youngest players to debut ever in NBA, the sneakers hung on a nail at the age of 29. This age is the peak of a career for most players.
After a career Yaroslav Korolev’s focused on his basketball school in the US, where ex-player of CSKA and “the clippers” he teaches and tells the kids his way in basketball. For the life of 33-year-old Queens do not complain. However, at this age he still could Shine on the court. Unfortunately, fate decreed otherwise.