With the sting of its NCAA Tournament first-round loss still fresh, the Georgia Bulldogs found a little relief by landing a fourth member for its 2011 recruiting class.
Nemanja Djurisic (pronounced neh-MON-juh jerr-REE-sic), a 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward from South Kent, Conn., by way of Southeast Europe, committed to the Bulldogs late Sunday evening. He will sign with UGA when the national signing period begins in mid-April.
Djurisic chose Georgia over a laundry list of offers, including closest runners up N.C. State, Utah, Arizona State, Kansas State, Minnesota and Texas.
“I like him because he’s very sound and cerebral,” said Dave Telep, senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. “He’s a tough and intelligent basketball player. He has a little Matt Howard in him.”
Howard is the 6-8 forward who has been starring for Butler in its latest NCAA Tournament run. Georgia believes Djurisic can have the same impact.
Djurisic is “a typical European,” according to South Kent coach Kelvin Jefferson. “He’s very, very skilled; can score either facing the basket, shooting the 3 or with his back to the basket. Great passer, great IQ.”
Djurisic said coach Mark Fox talked to him about being able help Georgia by giving it the threat of the outside shot when the Bulldogs’ forwards pop out to the top the key in the triangle offense. Trey Thompkins, a junior who may turn pro after this season, occasionally did that to great effect.
“Out of everything I liked about Georgia that was probably the biggest thing,” said Djurisic, who said he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game as a high school senior this past season. “I think they can use someone like me. That’s what I heard from Coach Fox. He said, ‘we need a skilled guy who can shoot and give us an inside-outside presence on the floor.’ I think I can help them that way.”
Djurisic is from Podgorica, Montenegro, and speaks Serbian and English fluently. He said he came to the U.S. from Europe two years ago with the express purpose of honing his game for American basketball.
“That’s why I went to South Kent, to adjust to this game,” Djurisic said. “They helped me a lot, not just in basketball but in life.”
Georgia has been on Djurisic for a while. He said he first met the Bulldogs’ coaches during a tournament last November and they had stayed in touch ever since. Djurisic went on an unofficial visit to UGA the second week of March “and really liked what I saw. They have everything that I need.”
Djurisic said he seriously considered both N.C. State and Utah but those programs fired their coaches. He liked the stability Georgia offered and said he really hit it off with Fox.
Djurisic gets a 3-star rating from both Rivals.com and Scout.com and is rated as the No. 62 power forward in the nation by ESPN.com.
When he signs next month, Djurisic will join three other signees who inked during the early signing period in November: 6-6 guard guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Greenville, a five-star prospect; 6-10 center Tim Dixon of Oldsmar, Fla.; and 7-foot center John Florveus of Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog