Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk poses for photos on June 26, 2018.
(Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images)

Svi Mykhailiuk Out to Prove Himself a Shooter and More

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk stepped onto the University of Kansas campus when he was only 17 years old.

Born and raised in Ukraine, his arrival in Lawrence was just the third time he had ever been to America. Yet the teenager found himself already armed with a wealth of experience.

Just a couple of months prior, he had gone head-to-head with some of the world’s greatest players, representing his home country at the FIBA World Cup.

Mykhailiuk’s Ukrainian team stood little chance in their tilt with an American side loaded with NBA all-stars, but it was an experience that he would hold onto forever.

“It was amazing, man,” Mykhailiuk said. “It was amazing. Just seeing all those NBA all-stars you’re playing against — James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Steph (Curry), Klay (Thompson). I was just like, ‘Wow.’ Every time I stepped on the court, it was history.”

Up until that point, Mykhailiuk had only seen such talent on TV. Now he was sharing the court with past and future MVPs.

“It was crazy,” he laughed. “I was running around just, like, looking at people.”

Having already faced some of the NBA’s top talent, Mykhailiuk began his college career with supreme confidence.

In his four years with the Jayhawks, he molded himself into one of the best shooters in college basketball, hitting 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers, including 44.4 percent during his Big 12-leading senior season.

“When I came to Kansas I think I was a better shooter than anybody else on my team. So I had to fill in that role.”

Statistics show that Mykhailiuk was elite when it came to spot-up shooting — something the Lakers, who drafted him 47th overall, certainly need. However, he is also sure of his ability to drain shots off screens and off the dribble.

“It don’t matter, man,” he said. “Whatever’s open, I’m gonna take it.”

Shooting is undoubtedly Mykhailiuk’s supreme skill, and it’s one that is highly coveted in the modern NBA.

Still, at each of his 16 predraft workouts with NBA teams, he made it a mission to prove that he could do more than swish.

“I definitely think I can handle the ball, I can pass the ball (and) I would say I’m pretty athletic for a white guy,” he laughed. “I can jump and just show I’m a pretty good all-around player. Not just a shooter. Not everybody knows I can do a lot more.”

Mykhailiuk now aims to show the entire NBA exactly what he is capable of doing. Four years ago, he played in a single game against elite NBA competition. Soon, he will be facing such opponents on a nightly basis.

But if one factor remains the same, it’s that he will still be representing his home country. Family and friends will have to prepare for some early mornings, as Mykhailiuk will become just the ninth Ukraine-born player in NBA history.

“Where I came from, not a lot of people make it out to Europe or (the) NBA,” he said. “But a lot of people are trying right now. It’s just an honor to be able to go to college and then being drafted, especially being from Ukraine.”

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