7-foot-6, 184-pound Romanian teen focusing on health over hoops

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
7'6 15-Year-Old Basketball Player Dominating In Europe

ROME (AP) -- At 7-foot-6 (2.29 meters), 15-year-old Robert Bobroczkyi is already taller than New York Knicks sensation Kristaps Porzingis - or any other current NBA player.

EXPLORE MORE:Listen to The Rewind for the week's top news and buzzy stories

He's got a nice shooting touch and solid passing skills, too.

So it's no wonder that Bobroczkyi is generating buzz among youth league scouts in Europe.

What the Romanian lacks, though, are any traces at all of muscle on his 184-pound (83.5-kilogram) frame. He runs awkwardly, and tires easily.

That's why the Rome academy where Bobroczkyi is based - the same youth club that produced Brooklyn Nets player Andrea Bargnani - has decided to dedicate this season exclusively to fitness and strength.

This being Italy, the recipe is simple: pasta, pasta and more pasta.

Following an individual nutrition plan created for him by specialists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, Bobroczkyi is eating more than 2 pounds (an entire kilogram) of pasta per day.

"We're not interested in basketball right now. The top priority is his health," Stellazzurra Basketball Academy general manager Giacomo Rossi said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "For someone with his physical stature, the usual practice sessions are just not enough. He needs individual attention."

SEE MORE:Top sports moments and storylines of 2015

Having helped Stellazzurra to the under-15 national title in Italy last season, Bobroczkyi is sitting this season out and playing in only select tournaments.

"We've got to make sure that five years from now not only can he play basketball but that he's also a fairly normal person," Rossi said. "This is going to be a long and difficult season for him but it's also going to be the most important season of his life. Because every day, all day, he's following an individual project created specifically for him with a staff of physicians."

Related: Check out the tallest NBA players ever:

Tallest players in NBA history
See Gallery
7-foot-6, 184-pound Romanian teen focusing on health over hoops

Tibor Pleiss, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by Daniel Loeb/EB via Getty Images)

Kristaps Porzingis, 7 ft 3 in

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Walter Tavares, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Hasheem Thabeet, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ha Seung-Jin, 7 ft 3 in

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Arvydas Sabonis, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Aleksandar Radojevic, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo By Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 7 ft 3 in

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Swede Halbrook, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by The Stevenson Collection/NBAE via Getty Images)

Keith Closs, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by Tom Hauck/NBAE via Getty Images)

Randy Breuer, 7 ft 3 in

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Peter John Ramos, 7 ft 3.5 in

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/NBAE via Getty Images)

Boban Marjanovic, 7 ft 3.5 in

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Priest Lauderdale, 7 ft 4 in

(AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

Ralph Sampson, 7 ft 4 in

(AP Photo/Mike Kullen)

Rik Smits, 7 ft 4 in

(Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport via Getty)

Mark Eaton, 7 ft 4 in

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Pavel Podkolzin, 7 ft 5 in

(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Chuck Nevitt, 7 ft 5 in

(Photos by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sim Bhullar, 7 ft 5 in

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Yao Ming, 7 ft 6 in

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Shawn Bradley, 7 ft 6 in

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Slavko Vranes, 7 ft 6.5 in

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Manute Bol, 7 ft 7 in

(AP Photo/Doug Atkins)

Gheroghe Muresan, 7 ft 7 in

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)


Bobroczkyi is living with a host family in Frosinone - about an hour drive south of Rome - near a fully equipped physical therapy and rehabilitation center. His nutritionist also works for the Frosinone soccer club in Italy's top division.

Here's an average day:

8 a.m. - Breakfast: 10.5 ounces (300 grams) of pasta, either plain or with tomato sauce; eight slices of toast with bacon and an egg.

9:30 a.m. - Snack: energy bar or drink

10 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Physical therapy: stretching, coordination, posture exercises

12 p.m. - Snack: energy bar or drink

1 p.m. - Lunch: 14 ounces (400 grams) of pasta, meat or fish, vegetables

2 p.m. - Rest

2:30 p.m. - Snack: sweets

3-5 p.m. - Gym: muscle strengthening

5:30 p.m. - Snack: sweets

6 p.m. - Rest

8 p.m. - Dinner: 10.5 ounces (300 grams) of pasta, meat or fish, vegetables, dessert

9:30 p.m. - Sleep

"He eats seven times per day," said physiotherapist Daniele Comandini, who is looking after Bobroczkyi. "He's not eating McDonald's or kebabs. That's banned."

Since he arrived in Rome last year, Bobroczkyi has gained 30 pounds (14 kilograms). And he is still getting taller.

In August, Bobroczkyi visited with Child Health and Human Development specialist Lyssikatos Charalampos and other physicians at the NIH.

"They performed every possible exam on him," Comandini said. "He's in perfect health."

Bobroczkyi runs awkwardly because his hips are slanted.

"The problem with his hips is normal for someone of his height," Comandini said. "He grew so rapidly that his hips don't correspond with the other bones yet."

The hope is that once he stops growing and develops some muscles, Bobroczkyi will run normally.

"The conclusion at the NIH was that there is nothing wrong and it's all genetics," Comandini said.

That makes perfect sense considering that Bobroczkyi's father is 7-foot-1 (2.15 meters) and played on Romania's national team with Gheorghe Muresan - the 7-foot-7 giant (2.31-meter) who was the tallest NBA player in history.

Bobroczkyi's mother is also tall and was an accomplished handball player. And his four-year-old sister Arianna was nearly an inch (2 centimeters) longer than him at birth.

Bobroczkyi started playing basketball at the age of 5, and his idol was Yao Ming.

"Now I have two," Bobroczkyi said. "Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis."

Stellazzurra is being highly protective of Bobroczkyi, although the team did let him sit in on an interview with team officials. He speaks five languages - Romanian, Italian, English, Serbian and Hungarian.

Asked where he would like to play in the future, Bobroczkyi responded "Euroleague."

Team officials say Bobroczkyi has a high basketball IQ, and that's evident on videos of him circulating on the Internet. As you would expect, he blocks shots and easily shoots over shorter players. But he also shows strong passing skills, hitting cutting players who can easily finish layups as the defense concentrates on Bobroczyki.

"I think his greatest talent is his passing skills," Rossi said. "On defense, he intimidates. But he needs to have the body that can stand up over the course of an entire game. He's never going to be someone who can play all 40 minutes but he's got to be able to make an impact in the 20 minutes that he does play."

Bobroczkyi is scoring six to seven points per game.

Players with 20 different nationalities and four different religions are represented at Stellazzurra.

"There are a lot of different cultures here," club president Fabio de Mita said. "That's the strength of this place. We're a family."

Bobroczkyi agrees.

"This is the best place for me to develop," he said.


NBA power rankings - 12/17
See Gallery
7-foot-6, 184-pound Romanian teen focusing on health over hoops

30. Philadelphia 76ers (1-26)

Last week: 30

Okafor: Shooting 33 percent from beyond 3 feet from the rim

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

29. Los Angeles Lakers (4-21)

Last week: 29

Bryant: Shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 37 percent from three over last five games (18.2 PPG)

(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

28. Brooklyn Nets (7-18)

Last week: 27

2 NBA players averaging 20 points and eight rebounds (Lopez: 19.3 PPG and 8.0 RPG)

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

27. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-16)

Last week: 24

Rank fifth in rebound rate during "clutch" minutes (ahead or behind by five points or less in final five minutes)

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

26. New Orleans Pelicans (7-18)

Last week: 28

Rank fifth in rebound rate during "clutch" minutes (ahead or behind by five points or less in final five minutes)

(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

25. Denver Nuggets (11-14)

Last week: 26

Barton: Career-high .569 true shooting percentage

(Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

24. Sacramento Kings (10-15)

Last week: 25

Five player with PERs of 17 or over

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

23. Portland Trail Blazers (11-16)

Last week: 23

Sixth-best offensive efficiency, 21st in defensive efficiency

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

22. Phoenix Suns (11-16)

Last week: 21

Booker: 50 percent shooting (66.7 percent from three) over last nine games (17.5 MPG)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

21. Milwaukee Bucks (10-17)

Last week: 20

Carter-Williams: Career-high 43.8 FG%

(AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

20. New York Knicks (12-14)

Last week: 22

Holding opponents to 30.4 percent shooting from three-point range (second-best in NBA)

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

19. Utah Jazz (10-14)

Last week: 15

Outscoring opponents 16.9 points per 100 possessions with Whithey on the floor

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

18. Washington Wizards

Last week: 16

Opponents shooting 46.9 percent from the field (28th)

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

17. Houston Rockets (12-14)

Last week: 19

Allowing 17.3 percent more three-point field goals than last season

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

16. Detroit Pistons (15-12)

Last week: 18

Jackson: Career-high .292 free-throw rate

(Photo by B. Sevald/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

15. Orlando Magic (14-11)

Last week: 17

Sixth in defensive efficiency but 19th in offensive efficiency

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

14. Memphis Grizzlies (14-12)

Last week: 14

Sixth in the West despite 25th in offense and 22nd in defense

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

13. Dallas Mavericks (14-12)

Last week: 13

Just two players averaging more than 30 minutes per game (Williams, Matthews)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

12. Charlotte Hornets (14-10)

Rank eighth in offense after ranking 28th last season

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

11. Atlanta Hawks (15-12)

Last week: 5

-4.5 net rating since Dec. 10

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

10. Boston Celtics (14-12)

Last week: 12

Sullinger: Career-high 29.6 defensive rebounding percentage

(Photo by B. Sevald/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

9. Chicago Bulls (15-8)

Last week: 10

28th in offense, second defense

(Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

8. Toronto Raptors (16-10)

Last week: 9

Lowry: Career-high in three-point makes, attempts and percentage

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

7. Indiana Pacers (15-9)

Last week: 8

2nd in NBA in three-point percentage

(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

6. Miami Heat (15-9)

Last week: 7

Holding opponents to 31.1 percent shooting from three-point range (third-best in NBA)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-7)

Last week: 4

Three rotation players shooting below 38 percent (Smith, Jones, Cunningham)

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

4. Los Angeles Clippers (16-10)

Last week: 6

Jordan: 195 FTAs, 147 FGAs

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (17-8)

Last week: 3

Have the higher relative offensive rating than they did during their NBA Finals run in 2011-12

(Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

2. San Antonio Spurs (22-5)

Last week: 2

Need to go 41-14 to match their all-time best regular season record, which was set in 2005-06

(Photos by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Golden State Warriors (25-1)

Last week: 1

46-4 in their last 50 regular season games since Mar. 4 of last year

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


Read Full Story

From Our Partners