Dragan Bender is one of the few Croatian professional basketball players who are represented in the NBA. He joined the NBA in 2016 after four years of playing in Europe, including for Isreal’s best team Maccabi Tel Aviv. Bender had been on the NBA coaches’ radar for a long time, and when he signed up for the 2016 draft he was ranked 4th by the Phoenix Suns. His versatility combined with his gigantic height of 7 feet makes him a force to be reckoned with.
Dragan Bender Biography (Age)
Dragan Bender was born on November 17, 1997, in Capljina, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. He grew up with his parents in Split, Croatia, where he played basketball alongside his older brother Ivan Bender. Dragan began his education at the Basketball Academy of Nikola Vujcic, a former professional basketball player who was to become his guardian. Nikola Vujcic is now the general manager of the Isreali Powerhouse basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv.
As a young boy, Dragan idolized Toni Kukoc, a former Croatian NBA player. He followed in the footsteps of his idol and started his professional career with KK Split. Bender also looked up to Šarunas Jasikevicius of the EuroLeague. Dragan improved very quickly in his game and soon signed with another Croatian team, KK Kaštela. The team played in the second-best league in the country and Dragan would lead them to the top league of the country, the A-1 league. He played briefly for KK Cedevita before Maccabi Tel Aviv called on his services in 2014. The Isreali team signed a 7-year contract with him.
In the 2014/2015 season, Dragan was loaned to Ironi Ramat Gan to gain more playing time. He made his debut for Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League on October 11, 2015, and Dragan Bender would come to help the team win two consecutive Israeli State Cups in 2015 and 2016.
The B-baller started playing for the Croatian national team in 2012, starting with the U-16 team at the 2012 FIBA European Championship of U-16 Juniors and then moving up to the Croatian U-18 national team by 2014. He played for his team at the 2014 FIBA European Under-18 Championship in Turkey, where he turned the heads of many international scouts, especially from the NBA. From then on many NBA coaches had him on their radar.
Bender missed the chance to play with his national team at the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Crete (Greece) because he had signed a contract with Adidas. As part of the clause of his contract, Bender was not allowed to play in a dress that was not produced by Adidas. On the other hand, his team’s jersey was made by Jordan Brand of Nike, and the team committed to having all players wearing the Nike jersey. As a result, Bender had to honor the terms of his contract and suspend the tournament.
Later, Adidas had to make a pair of shoes without a logo for his club Maccabi Tel Aviv, which had a jersey deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand, so that they could play with their club Maccabi Tel Aviv.
In 2016, Bender signed up for the 2016 NBA Draft and was voted fourth overall by the Phoenix Sun, which bought his $1.3 million contracts with Maccabi Tel Aviv. In 2017 he was promoted to the senior national team of the Croatian national team.
Bender was born to Croatian parents, Bernada and Rafo Bender. Both his parents were very supportive of his basketball career. His family member best known to the media is his older brother Ivan Bender, who is two years older than him. He was born on August 18, 1993.
Dragan and Ivan played together in Nikola’s basketball academy Vujcic when they were 12 and 14 years old respectively.
Ivan played college basketball for the University of Maryland basketball team, the Maryland Terrapin. Like his brother, Ivan is over 2 meters tall and plays as a striker. He sat out the rest of the 2017 college season after tearing his meniscus in his right knee in a game against Maryland-Baltimore County in late 2017.
Dragan’s Height, Weight, and Measurements
Bender’s height is exactly 7 feet 1 inch, which corresponds to 2.16 m. It weighs 102 kg (225 lb) and its wingspan is 2.18 m. Dragan Bender has dark brown eyes and brown hair.