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22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
1 Miro Little (FIN)
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Little making moves as Finland's next big hope

HELSINKI (Finland) - Miro Little has taken big strides in his development this season as the teenager continues to gain attention across Europe, and beyond.

The 2004-born guard put up big numbers domestically, made a senior international debut for Finland at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers and is headed to high major NCAA school Baylor in 2023.

Basketball is firmly in his blood with both of Little's parents former players, having met at Mercy College. Little played for hometown club Tampereen Pyrinto as a junior before moving to the Finnish capital to join the Helsinki Basketball Academy to continue his rapid development.


In the 2021-22 season, Little averaged an impressive 21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game for HBA Helsinki in the second division having exploded for a career-best of 38 points back in March.

"It was an exciting season," he told FIBA.basketball. "I'm really happy because I didn't expect it to go this well. Every time I stepped on the court, I tried to lock in, enjoy playing and just have fun.

"We didn't really know what to expect as we are a young team with a bunch of freshman players. Two seniors got hurt right at the start of the season so everyone's role just got bigger quicker and every day our team was getting better."

The love of the game is a big factor for Little. The chance to take on larger responsibility was something he embraced and it's the leadership trait that Little strives to build on, so it's no surprise that wily veteran Chris Paul is amongst his role models.

"I'm an energetic point guard," he states. "I'm mobile. I'm a leader on the court, and a leader altogether. I'm trying to get better and learn every time I step on the court. Just a kid that you can see really enjoys the game and wants to have fun playing the sport."

Little took his talents to the international stage earlier this year when he made his senior debut at the age of 17 - becoming the youngest player to represent Finland since Teemu Ranniko in 1997.

Donning the blue and white jersey for the first time, it was a window to remember for Little as Finland recorded back-to-back victories over reigning EuroBasket champions Slovenia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers. 

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Little was the youngest participant across the European Qualifiers in the February window and contributed 5 points without a miss in their 83-79 triumph in Koper as Finland moved to the top of the group with three wins from four to fuel their ambitions.

"It was a really exciting experience to play my first men's national team games," he said. "It was always one of my biggest dreams to represent Finland on the biggest stage - it felt awesome. I can't put into words the feeling when I walked onto the court for the first time for the shootaround on the day of the game.

"Every day in practices, my main focus was on learning. It still is today. Every time I step on the court with older and smarter players with more experience, I try to learn as much as I can and watch how they do things.

"It would be really big for Finland and the whole country to get into the World Cup. To be competing at a high level, that's what we're trying to do here. We're getting better every time and that's what we want to show."

Those debut moments for Little brought back memories of watching Finland compete at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 on home soil. And now, five years on, the rising star could be taking to the court at the major tournament as Finland prepare for their 2022 venture later this year.

"It felt crazy playing as I was remembering a few years ago in 2017 when I was a ball boy bringing the ball out to games at the EuroBasket in Finland," Little recalled.

"It would be amazing to play this time. That's my goal. I know I've got to be ready to work every day to be able to compete for a spot. As much as I can, I have to help the team if I get the chance to represent my country."

Little is set to announce plans for the upcoming 2022-23 campaign as he targets taking the next steps to his game with a particular focus on improving his shooting.

Undoubtedly, more eyes will be drawn towards on him with keen interest having committed to Baylor for the following year and the top prospect remains unfazed by the expectations.

"Everything is a motivation boost for me in a way," Little concludes. "People's expectations are not always positive, sometimes they can be bad so I try to use that as a boost and prove the haters wrong.

"I just want to keep getting better as a player. All the stuff off the court pretty much goes in one ear and out the other. I don't let it affect me because that doesn't help me on the court."