It wasn't so long ago that the Milwaukee Bucks took a gamble on an 18-year-old foreign player.

His name was Ersan Ilyasova.

The Bucks picked up the Turkish player in the second round of the 2005 National Basketball Association draft.

It took some time, including a two-year stint with Regal FC Barcelona in the Spanish League, but Ilyasova returned to the Bucks in 2009 and has spent the past four seasons with Milwaukee. He's now the team's starting power forward and finished second in the league's most improved player voting in 2012.

The Bucks are hoping for another chapter of international success after picking 18-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of last week's draft.

"The bottom line is in two or three years he could easily be one of the best two or three players in this draft, talent-wise," said Bucks director of player personnel Dave Babcock.

Antetokounmpo was playing in the second division in his home country of Greece, not an elite level of competition.

But his talent and athleticism caught the attention of pro scouts, much as Ilyasova's skill caught Babcock's eye at a tournament in Madrid nearly a decade ago.

"There are a lot of similarities there as far as talent," Babcock said. "Ersan was a little further along as far as being exposed to the game.

"But both were very passionate guys, hard workers, and basketball was the No. 1 thing in their lives."

Ilyasova faced a huge adjustment to life in the United States and did not speak much English when he arrived in the fall of 2005. But his English improved, and so did his game.

The 6-foot-10 forward wanted to succeed at the highest level of the sport and put in the work necessary, becoming a "stretch 4" so valued in the NBA.

Bucks general manager John Hammond stressed that Antetokounmpo and his family will move to Milwaukee together later in the summer to ease the transition for the 6-9 point forward.

The family lived in a poor section of Athens and often struggled to make the monthly rent, according to Nick Papaioannou, a columnist for NBA Greece. Antetokounmpo's parents, Charles and Vero, were Nigerian immigrants and stressed the importance of school to their five sons.

An older brother played soccer, but the four younger brothers were basketball players. And all four played at various levels for the Filathlitikos club — Thanasis, 20, Giannis, Kostas, 15, and Alexandros, 9.