October 31, 2011

Djurisic fitting in well

Although he's getting his first taste of Southern culture after having been in the United States for a little less than two years, Georgia freshman Nemanja Djurisic is having no trouble fitting in.

That's true both on and off the court.

"I love it here," said Djurisic, who comes to Georgia via South Kent School (Conn.) where he spent a year after coming to the U.S. from Podgorica, Montenegro.

"When I took my first visit there wasn't anything that I didn't like," he said. "I feel I can come and help this team."

That's what the Bulldog basketball program is hoping for.

After losing Trey Thompkins to the NBA, along with Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price to graduation, Georgia head coach Mark Fox went into the off-season knowing he needed to restock his frontcourt.

At 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, the youngster with extensive international experience would appear to fit the bill.

Last year for South Kent, Djurisic averaged 20.1 points and 10.3 rebounds for the school which also produced Washington's Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning who faced the Bulldogs last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to that, Djurisic played on four straight Montenegrin teams at the 2007-2010 Under 18 European championships.

"He had received a couple of offers early, but once Trey departing became more apparent, I think we became more attracted to him," Fox said. "Early on, when we still didn't know (about Trey and Travis (Leslie)), why would a power forward come?"

But as Fox is quick to point out, Djurisic was anything but an afterthought.

Arizona State, Utah, North Carolina State and Oklahoma State each offered Djurisic a scholarship before he decided to join Fox and the Bulldogs.

"I wasn't in that much of a hurry," Djurisic recalled of the process. "I really took my time. I looked at every aspect. I did not want to rush anything. Being that I was coming from so far away, I wanted to make sure I got to a place that I could be comfortable with."

Georgia appears to be that place, despite the fact his previous exposure to Southern culture has been limited to a few trips to South and North Carolina.

It hasn't taken him long to fit in, as he's already earned the reputation for having one of the team's best senses of humor and the ability to keep the locker room loose.

"He's a very charming guy," Fox said of Djurisic, nicknamed 'Nemi' for short. "He's brought a lot of personality with him which is what we need. He's really been a good addition."

Senior teammate Matt Bucklin agreed.

"He's a funny guy. He keeps the locker room laughing," Bucklin said. "He's going to be a good guy to have around when things are tight. He loosens things up a little. We love having him around."

Bulldog fans will get their first look at Djurisic and the rest of the Bulldog basketball team when it hosts Morehouse College in an exhibition game this Friday night (7 p.m.) at Stegeman Coliseum.

"I believe I can help this team get where it wants to be," Djurisic said. "My style, I feel, fits in with a lot of the things we want to do. I hope I can help bring the team to the level we want to be."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]