Egor Koulechov was born in Russia, but immigrated with his family to Israel at the age of seven. Even at an early age, basketball was a focal point in his life. So when the opportunity presented itself, Koulechov jumped at the chance to attend prep school and play basketball at The Sagemont School in Weston, Florida.
While his family stayed back in Israel, Koulechov finished his final two years of high school in Florida. He quickly became one of the top prep players in the state, but went largely unnoticed by most college coaches. As a result, Arizona State was able to move quickly on Koulechov and secure a commitment after his junior year (in May 2012).
Unlike most high school players, Koulechov elected to bypass the AAU circuit the past few summers. Instead, he returned home to play for the Israeli 18-U national team. After dominating the action at the 18-U European Championships this past summer, Koulechov is ready to begin the next chapter of his basketball life.
Now firmly settled in Tempe, he hopes to make ASU his home for the next four years. DevilsDigest caught up with 6’5” wing player for an exclusive interview:
DevilsDigest: Why did you decide to move to the U.S. to finish high school?
Egor Koulechov: I wanted the opportunity to play college basketball one day. It has been my dream for a while and I thought if I moved here, it would get me one step closer.
DD: Has playing away from home (Israel) the last two years made the transition to college easier for you?
EK: Yes, definitely. Playing in Florida the last two years has made the transition easier, but I I’m still adjusting. It will take some time and it’s a process, but I’m patient.
DD: What is the most difficult thing about being away from Israel?
EK: Not having my parents here is difficult. It’s been like that for the last two years, but it still bothers me. However, I have my teammates here and they’re like family now. They’re all great guys and they’re helping me a lot.
DD: What do you enjoy the most about being a student-athlete at ASU?
EK: What I enjoy the most is the structure. We have a schedule in place – we have classes in the morning and then we come back to the gym and spend most of the day here.
DD: In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between the way basketball is played overseas and the way it’s played here in the U.S.?
EK: It’s much faster here. In the U.S., the guys are a lot bigger and more athletic. When you play overseas, the game is slower and you have to think more. You have to use your head a lot more. It’s definitely different.
DD: Most fans have not seen you play. How would you describe your game? Do you try to model your game after any particular players?
EK: No, not really. I watch a lot of NBA, but I don’t try to pattern my game after anyone. My game is pretty simple. I play hard. I can shoot the three and rebound. And I hustle out there on the court. That’s my game.
DD: How did you feel about the team’s trip to China in August? Did it build good team rapport?
EK: I thought the trip was great. It really bonded the team. Everybody got to know each other. I know a lot of guys better now [as a result of the trip].
DD: What was your personal highlight of the China trip?
EK: My personal highlight was being on the Great Wall of China. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. It gave me goose bumps all over my body. It was huge – and the views were amazing.
DD: What are your individual goals for this year?
EK: First of all, I want to be successful academically. And second, grow as a player and a person. I want to be part of this team and have a successful season.
DD: What about the team goals? What milestones do you hope for the team to accomplish?
EK: I just want to see the team improve throughout the year. I believe it’s a process. I want to see everyone happy and playing well. And I hope we can win a lot of game this year.