Noth­ing but net

Bas­ket­ball star Danilo Djuri­cic on play­ing for Har­vard and his goals

Village Post - - Currents - By Ju­lia Mas­troianni

My dream is to play at the high­est level: the NBA.”

Al­though 19-year-old Har­vard bas­ket­ball player Danilo Djuri­cic has al­ready won a gold medal with Team Canada on the un­der-19 (U19) junior na­tional team, he’s still fo­cused on ed­u­ca­tion first. Djuri­cic cred­its his par­ents for that kind of think­ing.

“My par­ents were al­ways talk­ing to me about how im­por­tant school is, al­ways preach­ing school first, sports sec­ond,” he says.

Bas­ket­ball found Djuri­cic, by virtue of good genes, rather than the other way around.

“My first sport was soc­cer, but grow­ing up I started hit­ting growth spurts, and I was a lit­tle bit taller than all the other kids,” Djuri­cic says. “One of my as­sis­tant coaches rec­om­mended I try bas­ket­ball, so I tried house league and then rep.”

The rest, as they say, is his­tory. By Djuri­cic’s first year of high school at St. Michael’s Col­lege School, he was al­ready on the var­sity team, and had re­ceived in­ter­est from Har­vard, which he says re­ally mo­ti­vated him to stay on track.

Djuri­cic says his time at St. Michael’s re­ally pre­pared him for bal­anc­ing school work and sports.

“It’s a very high aca­demic school as well as hav­ing a re­ally good bas­ket­ball pro­gram, so I felt pre­pared very well by my high school.”

Djuri­cic has stayed true to his pri­or­i­ties af­ter his first year at Har­vard.

“I do my best to work hard, sched­ul­ing when it’s time for work and when it’s time to play bas­ket­ball. My pri­or­ity is aca­demics, so I get that fin­ished and then work hard on the court,” Djuri­cic says.

His dis­ci­pline has paid off, earn­ing him his proud­est mo­ment and pos­si­bly, he says, the great­est hon­our in his life — play­ing on the U19 junior na­tional team and win­ning gold for Canada.

“To win a gold medal for my coun­try that has given so much opportunity for my par­ents and me was hon­estly one of the mo­ments in my life I still can’t put into words,” Djuri­cic says.

Even so, Djuri­cic says he still has a long way to go in his ca­reer. “My dream is to play at the high­est level: the NBA.”

To all the kids who dream of play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, too, Djuri­cic is quick to men­tion the im­por­tance of school first.

“Con­tinue to work hard at your craft, con­tinue to do well in school be­cause school comes first,” he says.

He also says to lis­ten to your coaches to get to the high­est level of trust with them, men­tion­ing CIA Bounce coach Nicky Davis and high school coach Jeff Zownir as two in­flu­enc­ing forces on his de­vel­op­ment as a player.

With great suc­cess can come great sac­ri­fice, but Djuri­cic says he has no re­grets.

“Be­ing so ded­i­cated to my craft, as well as school, you miss out on things that other kids get to do. But I don’t mind it at all. There’s noth­ing I wouldn’t pass up for the po­si­tion I’m in to­day.”

Djuri­cic is go­ing into his sec­ond year at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity

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