Illustrated by Pac
|No. 17 – Seattle Summit|
|Species||Eurasian Lynx ( Felidae )|
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|School||Did not attend college; played professionally in Estonia|
|FBA draft||2017 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall|
|Selected by the Biloxi Voodoo|
|Pro playing career||2017–present|
|Career highlights and awards|
|2020 Salary||$13 million|
|2021 Salary||$13.5 million|
|2022 Salary||$14 million|
|2023 Salary||$14.5 million|
|(IC) Agent||Joosep Valdma (male European hare)|
|(OOC) Usage||Ask me before any use|
Kaspar Kuusik enters the 2017 FBA Draft as an intriguing if somewhat mysterious athlete. Having spent the last four years playing professionally in the rather obscure Estonian Korvpalli Kõrgliiga (English: Basketball Premier League), or KKL, the young lynx has decided to try his luck stateside starting in the 2017-2018 season and hopes to become the first Estonian-born player in FBA history.
Kaspar grew up in Pärnu, Estonia, a resort town of approximately 40,000 on the nation’s southwestern coast. While neither of his parents were basketball players, they were both athletes (his father Aleksander played soccer professionally and his mother Grete was briefly a member of the national volleyball team), and they encouraged young Kaspar to try several sports. To his father’s slight chagrin, Kaspar eventually chose basketball, a decision aided at least in part by the late-night FBA broadcasts that he would sneak out of bed to watch for years.
The young lynx’s growth spurt came rather late, meaning that he spent much of his youth competing against players larger and more physically gifted than himself. In order to stay competitive, Kaspar had to develop a consistent jump shot and ball-handling skills that would allow him to maneuver around his opponents. When the height finally came (and came rather quickly), Kaspar managed to retain the skills that he had used as an undersized player, with his increased size and strength making him all the more effective.
As a late bloomer, Kaspar had a hard time attracting the attention of the larger and more prestigious teams in the Kõrgliiga, and saw many of his more physically gifted teammates and opponents recruited by the bigger and richer clubs for their youth teams. Eventually, in late 2010, he found himself at a youth tryout for his hometown club Spordiklubi Pärnu. He managed to distinguish himself enough at the tryout to secure a spot on one of SK Pärnu’s youth teams.
Moving upward in the SK Pärnu academy was difficult at first for Kaspar. While he showed skill and potential, he was not used to the level of competition he faced as a member of the club. He nearly quit out of frustration, but after discussing the matter with his parents and academy coach, he made the decision to stay with the club.
After this rough adjustment period, and with a newfound focus and drive, Kaspar began to show the significant potential that SK Pärnu had seen in him, quickly becoming one of the best players on the under-16 academy squad.
Expectations were high for Kaspar when he moved up to the under-18 squad, the second-highest level behind the first team. Again, though, he found himself struggling early on, even being moved to the bench after a particularly bad game in a regional tournament.
It was soon discovered that some of these early struggles could be attributed to an untreated wrist injury Kaspar had suffered on the under-16 squad, and after minor surgery and a few weeks of rest, he returned to the under-18s and started to show more skill and aggression. He even attracted a couple of offers to join other, more prestigious clubs, but decided to stay with the organization that had first given him a chance.
The 2013-2014 Kõrgliiga season marked Kaspar’s first-team debut. He started the season on the bench, averaging a modest 4.6 points in 16 minutes per game through the first ten games of the season as he acclimated to the level of play. Soon after that point, a couple of injuries to starters thinned out the SK Pärnu bench, allowing Kaspar to accumulate more minutes.
Kaspar impressed in his increased playing time, and eventually was moved into the starting lineup. His efforts (cumulating in a season average of 13.8 points, 3.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds a game) netted him Best Young Player honors and helped SK Pärnu sneak into the playoffs for the first time in four years (although they would lose three games to one in the first round).
Both Kaspar and SK Pärnu were expected to continue their upward trajectory in the 2014-2015 season, and things certainly seemed to be heading in that direction, as the team raced out to an 8-3 start. However, a shoulder injury suffered in the team’s twelfth game sidelined Kaspar for most of the season, and by the time he returned to the team late in the campaign, they were already out of the running for a playoff spot.
With the bitter taste of failure in his mouth, Kaspar vowed to work harder than ever to push the team forward. Both the team and Kaspar struggled early in the 2015-2016 season, leading to the firing of the team’s coach eight games into the season. The new coach introduced a more fast-paced style of play in which Kaspar thrived, and the team started winning again. Kaspar’s season averages of 17.2 points, 4.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds a game landed him on the All-KKL team for the first time, and he also reached his first All-Star game. The team made it as far as the semifinals of the KKL playoffs before losing a hard-fought series three games to two, but bounced back to win the third-place series in a sweep, marking SK Pärnu’s highest league finish in nine years.
Over the offseason, Kaspar received attention from scouts in other, higher-profile European leagues, as well as some cursory interest from FBA scouts. He decided, however, to stay in Estonia, stating publicly that he would not even think about leaving “until we’ve brought a championship to Pärnu”. He did express some interest in perhaps making the jump to America eventually, calling it “a fun possibility for the future”.
The squad had only one goal on their minds going into the 2016-2017 KKL season, and they looked to be one of the league’s strongest teams from the outset. A torrid start to the season saw Kaspar threaten the KKL’s single-season scoring record, a mark he would take down in dramatic fashion by hitting a game-winning three-pointer with under five seconds left in the team’s second-to-last regular-season game.
SK Pärnu secured the second overall seed for the playoffs and swept consecutive series to reach the finals, a best-of-seven series against the two-time defending champion BC Star Tallinn. The series was tight throughout, with an upset road win setting up an opportunity for Kaspar and Pärnu to clinch the title at home. The game was tied after three quarters, but a late 12-0 run spearheaded by Kaspar’s back-to-back three-pointers delivered an 87-79 win and SK Pärnu’s first title in seventeen years.
Kaspar was named to another All-KKL team and was also selected as the league’s most valuable player after averaging 21.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game. Just days after the end of the playoffs, with the goal of bringing the title to his hometown club finally complete, he announced his intent to enter the 2017 FBA Draft, passing up several offers from clubs in Spain, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere.
Kaspar is solidly built and has a stocky frame that makes him appear a bit shorter than he actually is. His wingspan is average and there’s nothing particularly physically imposing about him, although he has a decent amount of muscle. He wears a white headband on the court, along with a white shooting sleeve on his right arm.
Kaspar’s fur bears the typical colors and markings of the Eurasian lynx, although the spots on his fur are not particularly noticeable, and his fur color approximates a relatively constant greyish-brown.
Other Personal Information
Kaspar’s agent is Joosep Valdma, a family friend who has represented him since he signed his first professional contract. Valdma is a European hare and a former soccer teammate of Aleksander Kuusik’s who moved into sports business after his playing days ended.
Kaspar is gay and currently in a relationship with fellow FBA player Akiak Pratt. Outside of basketball, Kaspar enjoys reading, cross-country skiing, and listening to bad pop music unironically.