Serbs in NCAAMrCrossover
College basketball is started and Serbia is the country with the highest number of players in NCAA in whole Europe. In the upcoming season, there are going to be 41 Serbian native players in D1. We decided to go through the list and write something about the most interesting freshman, about those players who are ready to stand out and about those who are in shadow but their time is coming and they may pop up.
MOST INTERESTING FRESHMEN
PF/C | FR. | Gonzaga
Petrušev is one of the best prospects in Europe in 2000 generation. He had great summer winning gold medal with Serbian NT at U18 European Championship and he was selected in All-tournament team. He comes to Gonzaga from Montverde Academy with which he won National HS Championship. Gonzaga is showed like a great program for best European bigs lately. Careers of Karnowski, Sabonis or now Tillie are great examples for that. Petrusev is a modern big man with great basketball IQ who can score on many ways. Good team player with great footwork and soft touch around the basket. This season he is probably not going to have bigger role in the team but he is going to have his chance, especially now when Jacob Larsen left the team and Killian Tillie is injured. In the next two or three years we may expect to see him on NBA Draft.
C | FR. | Arizona State
Plavšić is a 7’0 tall big guy with great size and wingspan, and for a seven-footer he changes ends of the floor extremely well. He’s very skilled around the basket and can step away with some shooting touch and range on the shot. Plavsic arrived in the United States last season and played for Hamilton Heights in 2017-18 averaging 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. Before HS he played for Mega Bemax, but he decided to go to US and try it in NCAA basketball. In his freshman season he is probably not going to have a lot minutes but he’s got tremendous long-term potential to develop in the Arizona State program under coach Boby Hurley.
G | FR. | St. Francis
Krtinić comes to St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers from Carnegie School-Riverside where he was one of the best players, sellected in 4A Division First Team by the California Interscholastic Federation. In Serbia he played for Vojvodina and led the team in U19 Roda JLS. He is a 6’5 combo quard with very good shooting stroke. Knows how to use a screen set for him on and off the ball. We will see how he is going to fit in St. Francis team and what role he is going to have in his freshman season.
F | FR. | Cleveland State
Popović came to college straight from Serbia where he played for Partizan. He was one of the most consistent players in the team averaging 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Before Partizan he was playing for OKK Beograd. He is 6’9 verastile forward who can play on both forward position. Does a lot small but important thing for the team. Battles, always crashes the glass, grabs the boards. Can defend player on post up and from perimeter as well. It’s not expected to get an important role at the beggining but he will be in rotation for sure.
G | R-FR. | Purdue
Stefanović was born in USA in Crown Point, Indiana. He had very successful high school career at Crown Point High School. Averaged 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game at Crown Point as a senior, leading the Bulldogs to a 22-4 record and their first league title since 1999. Was a Supreme 15 All-State honoree, as well as AP third-team All-State, the Post-Tribune and Northwest Indiana Times Player of the Year, the conference MVP and team MVP. He became Crown Point’s all-time leading scorer (1,385 points) this past season. He is 6’4 skilled and crafty guard with great offensive game. A pure shooter. Very good in catch and shoot situations and also in creating his own shoot. He is probably going to be a role player coming of the bench in his first season, but he will have minutes. Spent the year as a redshirt and will have four seasons of eligiblity, beginning with the 2018-19 season.
READY FOR BREAKOUT SEASON
G | SR. | Northeastern
Pušica is a former Zemun and Partizan player. Played his senior season at Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, one of the top high school programs in the country, for Coach Kyle Lindsted. Joins the Huskies from the University of San Diego where he spent his first two collegiate seasons. Pusica had really good last season as he finished as the team’s leading scorer with 17.9 ppg, while pulling down 3.6 rpg and dishing out 5.1 apg while playing and starting in all 33 games. While he played in Serbia he played exclusively point guard position. When he went to USA he improved his shoot significantly and became more like combo guard. Thanks to his point guard skills he is very good in running PnR where he can find the rolling big or look for his own shoot. He became a real threat for opponents thanks to his offensive versatility and this season could be his.
PF/C | JR. | USC
Nick was born in Chicago. He has Serbian roots by his father, Momo and he was a part of Serbia NT last year at U20 European Championship. Rakocevic played for Saint Joseph’s High in Westchester, where he averaged 19.8 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.0 blocks as a senior. Last season at USC Rakocevic played in all 36 games, making 22 starts, and averaging 8.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. This season he had great start with three double-doubles in three games averaging 17.7 points and 15.3 rebounds. He is a 6-11, 225-pound versatile big who runs the floor great for his size. Mobile, well-coordinated with excellent footwork. Operates well on a PnR as a screener, seals defenders, spins fast or slashes to the basket. Can also pop up and pull up a jumper. He improved his body this season and become very agressive rebounder. If he contiunes like he started this season, we may easily see him on Draft board .
C | JR. | Boston College
Popović is a former Crvena Zvezda player. After four years in Crvena Zvezda he went to Sagemont Prep School where he was in first Team All-County selection by the Sun-Sentinel after averaging 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game as a senior. Last season he appeared in 35 games, earning 33 starts.Posted career-highs in scoring 9.9, rebounding 6.2, and assists 1.3. Now he added even more muscle and strength to his body and he improved his athleticism and has experience from the last season. Mobile and quick 6’11, 253-pounds big guy with decent frame and good lateral quickness. Great offensive rebounder, creates a lot of second chance opportunities for his team. Good distributor from the low post. He doeasn’t shoots very offten but has range from the 3pt line.
G |R-SO. | Eastern Washington
Vulikić unfortunately had to redshirt his sophomore season due to injury, but he is now healthy and ready to play. In Serbia he played for Zemun and Mega Bemax and in his last season he played U19 Roda JLS for Jagodina. Standing at 6’6 Vulikic possesses tremendous size and lenght for point guard position with great physical tools. Good vision and court awareness. Utilizes PnR well, with nicely developed handles, sees gaps on defense, always looks for open teammates delivering the ball precisely with either hand or bounce passes. Thanks to his height advantage he is able to put on post smaller guards and that makes him tough to guard. This season he will be one of the Eagles leaders and he will have a chance to show what he can.
C | R-SR. | Utah
Topalovic is born in Pljevlja, Montenegro and grown up in his hometown Niš. He comes to Utah as a graduate transfer from Idaho State where he started in all 30 games in 2017-2018 season and averaged 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds.He is a 7’0 big guy with a strong body a solid back to basket moves. Great rebounder on both ends of the floor and a very reliable finisher around the basket. He is going to be a starting center for Utah who is well knowing program for bigs and he may be one of the biggest positive surprises this season.
G | SO. | Charlotte
Vasić was born in Pirot, where he played until he didn’t left to US. He led BC Pirot in U19 Roda JLS in 2016, when he was named MVP of the league averaging 25.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. After that he went to Avon Old Farms high school where as a senior, he earned second-team All-New England honors after averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.6 assists per game. Last season as a freshman he played 24 games with nine start averaging 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds. Vasic is very talented player with great level size/shooter/athlete package. Great size and length at 6’8 with good athleticism allows him to compete with high level athletes. Strength has improved over the past year and this season he should have more playing time so we will see how he is going to use it.
PF/C | SO. | North Dakota
Filip is a son of former NBA player and Serbia basketball legend Željko Rebrača. Maybe he doesen’t have a size like his father but he definetely inherited athleticism. Filip is 6’9 high level athlete with great run and jump ability. Mobile athletic power forward with long arms, great footwork and base. Good timing as a shot blocker and gets off the ground quickly. He worked a lot on his jumpshot this summer and he is capable to strech a floor as a PF. This season he will be waiting a chance from the bench but he may use it like he did against Kentucky couple days ago with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
PG | JR. | Mercer
Started in Zdravlje Leskovac, where he was one of the best players in Serbian youth leagues. Played the past two years for Western Nebraska Community College. Well-rounded guard who helped lead his team to the second round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Tournament in 2018. Dimitrijevic averaged 13.6 points and 3.1 assists per game this past season while leading WNCC to a 27-8 record and post-season tournament play. Over a two-year period, he started 60 of 63 games, was a career 89% free throw shooter, shot 48.3% from the field and 44.7% from three point range. He is highly efficient and consistent scorer with great ball handling ability.
F | SO. | Cleveland State
Kenić is former Crvena Zvezda player and a player who was member of all youth Serbia NT. Before he came to US his last season was in Smederevo where he played KLS and averaged 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds. He is a good athlete for European standards with great size and lenght at 6’9 that allows him to play multiple positions. Solid defender in the post, always bothering people and contesting shots, decent second line defender. Covers a lot of ground with his size, reach and wingspan. Able to fight bigger players in the post and defend effectively. In his freshmen season at Cleveland State he played in all 35 games, starting 31 times, averaging 9.5 points and 3.3 rebounds. This season he will be a starting PF, he has one year of adaptadion behind him and it’s expected to have much better numbers.
F | SR. | Fairfield
Milin is another player that may be a positive suprise this season. He played for Zemun for three season and in that time was one of the most talented players in country. At 6’9 he has great size and solid athleticism. Can play both forward positions thanks to his offensive versitality. Plays well within the offense, doesn’t force his scoring or try to do too much. Good shooting stroke with proper form, excels in catch and shoot situations. Good ball handling and passing ability for his size. Has ability to grab a rebound and instantly start the offense. This will be his senior season, hi has fit in the team, know what is his role and this season could be his most productive one.
Full list of all Serbian players that plays NCAA basketball will be on our website soon.