Casspi is first Israeli to go in NBA first round

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Israeli basketball player was picked in the first round of the NBA Draft for the first time.

Omri Casspi, 21, a 6-9 forward with Maccabi Tel Aviv, was selected Thursday by the Sacramento Kings as the 23rd pick. Israeli players had been chosen in the second round three times.

A first-round pick receives a guaranteed multi-year contract, while a second-rounder’s contract is not required to be guaranteed — the player is not paid if he does not make the team.

Casspi led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a league championship last year, averaging 12.6 points per game. He also was named to the all-league team and is a member of the Israeli national squad.

"I can’t speak," Casspi said, tears pouring down his face, according to The Associated Press. "I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life."

"I’m as happy as can be," he said. "We made history. I feel like I am in a dream."

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