Sergey Karasev has quietly become a major player in the 2013 draft game.
After leading Russia's strongest league in scoring before shooting 49 percent from three during Eurocup, Karasev became a name to watch for entering the predraft process.
He followed a strong week of practices at this year's Nike Hoops Summit with a win over U.S.A., a team consisting of projected top-10 picks in June 2014.
Watching him compete, you just got the sense that he belonged.
From there, the buzz picked up and began to spread. Just recently, representatives from 28 teams went to see him perform drills and three-on-three play in Las Vegas.
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, he wasn't even that impressive (subscription required). But that didn't seem to matter to his agents Andy Miller and Justin Zanik, who've been playing this game for quite some time now.
They went ahead and hit the big red button. I like to call it the "all in" button, because that's essentially what you're doing when you press it.
First reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Sergey Karasev will return to Moscow until the draft in late June. In other words, he's shutting himself down for the remainder of the workout process.
Y! Sources: Russian star Sergey Karasev has returned to Moscow until NBA Draft, fueling speculation of a guarantee. http://t.co/V8q9vphqVo— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 5, 2013
And now, Karasev is all-in. There's nothing left to do but wait to see the cards flop.
By pushing all of his chips in the pot, it's only natural to think that he's been given a promise.
When a prospect and his agents go all-in, it usually means one of two things: They know they can't lose or they're trying to fabricate demand. Karasev either got a strong promise from a team or his agents want everyone to think he did, making Karasev seem like a wanted man.
And you know that works. Anything becomes more attractive when you know that others really want it for themselves.
Has Karasev become that guy?
Last year, it was Dion Waiters who shut himself down at the combine. The rumors of a promise began to swirl. First it was Phoenix at No. 13. Soon, it became Golden State at No. 7. And before you knew it, Cleveland reached up and snatched Waiters at No. 4 before anyone could get their hands on him.
Who gave Karasev a promise?
Intrigue and interest are contagious in the draft game, and Karasev might be infecting a number of NBA teams.
Three of them stand out as potential suitors, including Minnesota at No. 26, Brooklyn at No. 22 and Cleveland at No. 19.
But if you're keeping your own draft board at home, I'd highlight Karasev's name as one that could jump up the board late. He fits the bill as that savvy, unselfish European player we've seen help so many NBA playoff teams. Karasev provides a sense of on-court maturity as a calming influence, along with a lethal three-point stroke and a high basketball IQ.
He's one of the more NBA-ready prospects in the field.
Whether Karasev has a promise or not, his draft appeal just went up by his agents creating the illusion that he does.
And given Karasev's disciplined skill set, it's a strong possibility that the intrigue and interest surrounding him spreads to a team in the top 15.
We might be looking at one of the bigger surprises of the 2013 NBA draft.