July 2, 2013 by Saagar Sarin
Galen Central will be doing a summer series profiling USC’s incoming basketball class, including transfers. Our next profile is on Nikola Jovanovic, a freshman forward from Serbia. Read earlier profiles on: Julian Jacobs, Pe’Shon Howard, Katin Reinhardt, and Darion Clark.
When Pac-12 coaches prepare to play USC this coming season, they’ll scratch their heads when they look down the Trojans’ roster sheet and see incoming recruit Nikola Jovanovic. Not just because the 6-foot-10 Serbian is a relative unknown heading into his freshman year at Troy, but also because he will be a matchup nightmare.
“I can play outside of the thee-point line,” Jovanovic said via e-mail from Serbia. “But I can also use my height to play inside. Some coaches from Serbia are comparing me to Dirk Nowitzki because of my body constitution, and I would like to say that I really like Blake Griffin’s play as well as Kevin Durant’s.”
Trojan fans would be more than happy if Jovanovic became comparable to any of those players, especially following a disappointing 14-18 campaign that saw the Trojans struggle to establish any sort of consistency. New head coach Andy Enfield, plucked from Florida Gulf Coast University, will bring his high energy “Dunk City” offense to the Galen Center, and Jovanovic believes he is going to fit in great in that system.
“Personally, I like to play fast and I will give my best to do everything that Coach Enfield asked me to do,” he said. “I think that Coach Enfield is the best possible solution [for] the men’s basketball program.”
Jovanovic, along with Kahlil Dukes, Julian Jacobs, and Roschon Prince, kept his commitment to USC after former head coach Kevin O’Neill was shown the door. Jovanovic believes that core group will bring the program back to its past successes.
“I think that everything is going to gel together and we are going to build up a great basketball program,” he said.
The Serbian native attended the famed Arlington Country Day School, one of the top basketball prep schools in the nation. Additionally, he is currently playing for the Serbian national team in preparation for the U19 World Championships. While it’s not necessarily the same as playing against the top competition in the Pac-12, it’s certainly a valuable training experience for a young player.
“I gain a lot of experience working with the best players of Serbia,” Jovanovic said on his national team experience. “It means a lot to me.”
Next season will certainly be a work in progress with so many new players (not to mention a brand-new coach and offensive system) but Jovanovic’s strong work ethic and dedication to the game should prove to be invaluable. And his 6-foot-10 size and sweet shooting stroke won’t hurt either.
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