"I’m excited about the next few years … I’ll be taking this opportunity to work hard to develop my game and skills and learn from more experienced players."

7 Jul
By Dan Woods for

Photo: Discovery One Photography

NBL24 will see a record-equalling seven Next Star prospects hit the hardwood, following Brisbane’s signing of local phenom Rocco Zikarsky, who, at just 16 years old, looms as one of Australia’s most exciting long term prospects. 

He’s been ranked as a top prospect in the NBA 2025 class – the first year he is eligible – and has already impressed at semi-professional level with the Centre of Excellence in NBL1 East.

Despite playing against older, stronger players, Zikarsky has impressed to average 9.9 points, six rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A big signing, in the most literal sense ?<br><br>16-year-old Aussie talent Rocco Zikarsky is the ??????? Next Star in <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBL24</a>, and at 7&#39;3&quot;, you can&#39;t miss him ?<br><br>Read more: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">July 6, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“I decided that the Next Stars opportunity was just too good a fit,” Zikarsky told ESPN. “Being able to train daily with my U17 Australian national team coaches, alongside one of my idols in Aron Baynes, in my hometown, for my home club with my family close by, is a dream come true.

“Being the youngest player ever to join the Next Stars is just the icing on top.”

RELATED >> Get to know the NBL24 Next Stars

Although he doesn't become draft eligible for two more years, Zikarsky was already one of the most heavily scouted young players in the world of basketball.

High profile programs including Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan, USC and Arizona all reached out to the 7’3” centre, as well as the NBA G-League Ignite program.

Zikarsky’s father – Bjorn – attended college, before embarking on a successful career as a professional swimmer. It was a career which included a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics.

“I was overwhelmed, but very appreciative of all the college coaches that reached out to me,” Zikarsky said.

“My dad went to USC, so it was definitely an option I was serious about. [The] G-League was also an exciting option.

“I’m excited about the next few years … I’ll be taking this opportunity to work hard to develop my game and skills and learn from more experienced players.

“I’m very lucky to be training with Boomers and ex-NBA players.

“I need to take it all in and make the most of every session with them.”

Zikarsky is the second Australian player to commit to the NBL24 Next Stars program, following his Centre of Excellence teammate Alex Toohey’s signing with the Kings.

Illawarra’s AJ Johnson, Perth’s Alexandre Sarr, Melbourne’s Ariel Hukporti, Cairns’ Bobi Klintman and New Zealand’s Mantas Rubstavicius make up the remainder of the exciting group of world-class young talent.

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