Once again, Serbia is country with biggest number of players in NCAA Division 1 basketball among European countries. In this article we will take a look on some of the most notable freshmen in 2019/20 college basketball season coming from Serbia.
Balsa Koprivica- 7’1, Center, Florida State Seminoles
Former Montverde Academy’s center decided to decline offers from Arizona, Kansas, LMU, UCLA, Wake Forest and many other D1 schools and committed to Florida State Seminoles.
Son of former basketball player Slavisa Koprivica possesses elite size and length above all other things. Four star recruit won National Championship with Monteverde Academy in 2018 and U18 European Championship with Serbian NT in 2017. Was ranked 51st on ESPN top 100.
7-footer with 7’3 wingspan has great physical tools and is a tremendous finisher around the rim. Very mobile big with decent footwork for his body type. Has nice post skillset. Could be better perimeter shooter, but still he is a threat from mid range positions and very solid shooter regarding his position. Great rebounder. Can run the floor and finish strong in transition. Stands contact well, but has room to work on improving his body strength. On defensive end shows great rim protecting and shot blocking abilities thanks to his wingspan and mobility.
Probably won’t have a big role and minutes as a freshman. Definitely could be considered as a long term draft prospect.
Lazar Nekic- 7’, Forward, LMU Lions
Former Tri-City Trinity School forward is unique big man who possesses great footwork and mobility in combination with elite size. Has kind of overweight legs, but he is very light on his feet despite that.
Prefers to play outside rather than inside the paint. Has good shot motion, can really score from perimeter. Also can attack the glass from perimeter off the dribble. Has very good ball handling abilities considering his position and size. Nekic is a versatile scorer with good feeling for the game. Sure finisher in transition. Defensivelly, his length and good timing for blocks makes him an excellent shot blocker, does good job specially with chase down blocks.
LMU could be right environment for Nekic even though he is not expected to have a serious role as a freshman. Will need time to adapt to a NCAA basketball.
Lazar Zivanovic- 6’7, small forward, LMU Lions
Another Serbian freshmen who commited for LMU Lions. Zivanovic is a guard/wing who has experience playing on highest levels in youth basketball including U17 World Championship, U16 European Championship with Serbian NT and ANGT Euroleague tournaments with Red Star where he had notable individual and team performances.
Zivanovic’s biggest asset are great physical tools and high level athleticism. Solid size in combination with good length and strong body is what gives him ability to defend multiple positions. 6’7 wing uses his good pace changing ability to drive by slower players in 1vs1 situations. Moves well without the ball in his hands, has good feeling for baseline cuts. Perimeter shot looks solid, but lacks of consistency and it is something he needs work on. Due to his athletic abilities and defensive skills, plays great in transition and knows how to turn defense into offense.
At the moment, he is in similar situation as Lazar Nekic. He will need to earn every minute on the court in his first year. Will get a bigger role in sophomore season, most likely.
Marko Sarenac- 6’7, small forward, Marshall Thundering Herd
Sarenac was member of Serbian NT in 2017 that won gold medal at European Championship u18. After this championship went to the USA where he played last season for Hoosac prep school. Was ranked as a 2 star recruit according to 247 sports.
Athletic shooting guard possesses very smooth touch and good shooting ability. Versatile shooter with smooth jumper and quick release. Sarenac is a shifty player with nice court vision and good feeling for the game. Knows how to use his advantages on the court. Can back down and play on low post against smaller guards. Has nice post skillset mixed with sure finishing abilities around the rim. During last season at Hoosac he improved his body and strength. Can guard multiple positions on defensive end.
He is expected to have good minutes in freshman season, but his impact on the team probably won’t be immediate. Anyway, interesting player to follow.
Other notable freshmen:
- Veljko Radakovic- 6’9, Power forward, Maine Black bears
- Marko Lukic- 6’6, guard, Arkansas Little Rock
- Jovan Stulic- 6’6 Guard, Arkansas Little Rock