The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack have signed a number of top high school recruits so far this Canada West off season. But the latest acquisition by the ‘Pack men’s basketball program has a lot of people talking.
Head coach Scott Clark and the WolfPack are pleased to announce that 6’10” Sasha Vujisic (pronounced Vou-yih-sich) has joined the program immediately and will begin his studies and playing basketball at Thompson Rivers in September. Vujisic played post at Burnaby South Secondary and helped lead the Rebels to the 2019-20 BC 4A championship.
“I like the basketball program and TRU is relatively close to Vancouver, “says Vujisic about choosing Thompson Rivers, where he will be taking courses aimed at earning a Bachelor of Computing Science Degree.
He believes his strengths are a soft touch while playing through contact, rebounding and a good understanding of the game.
“He is a very good player, “ says Clark. “He had some injury problems early last season. He didn’t play until midway through his grade 12 year. I recruited him for a while. He came and paid us a visit in September. We are very excited to have him. He has a great upside.”
His credentials are amazing. A two-time provincial champion, two-time BC 4A all-star, two-time Lower Mainland All-star, helped his team win the Western Canada tournament (in Kelowna, BC) championship where he was named a tournament all-star. He was also a Fraser Valley all-star leading his team to the Fraser Valley championship.
Vujisic was looking at schools in the NCAA, Alberta and Ontario before deciding on TRU. He played club basketball for the 3D basketball academy which is run by current WolfPack women’s head coach Goran Nogic.
“Goran recruited me to his academy in the summer of my grade nine year,” says Vujisic. “At the time, I was basically just a mobile 6’5” big who had no fundamentals. Since then, Goran has been teaching me the game of basketball and worked with me 1-on-1 on my skills many times over the past few years. Goran is someone I know and trust. Having someone like that around when you are going somewhere unfamiliar is always helpful.”
Says Nogic, “ Sasha is definitely one of the best players in all of Canada. I coached him for three years and worked with him individually for a year and a half. He is a player that can change any team with his character and basketball intelligence. His impact on the team’s defensive performance will be tremendous. Sasha is very strong physically and mentally, is a great team player and is extremely loyal and coachable. I know that Coach Clark will help him become one of the best basketball players in U SPORTS.”
“Goran did a great job on schooling Sasha on some of the fundamentals of basketball,”Clark stated. “I am happy with that connection. We have landed a guy who has the potential to be a very good basketball player if he continues to work hard.”
Mike Bell coached Vujisic for three years at Burnaby South. “ He is very talented and hard working. Both come naturally to him. Where I think he developed under my guidance would be allowing him to open up and show more of his personality. I think Sasha will do very well at the USPORTS level due to his hard work and effort he puts into his game.”
Clark says Vujisic is a very skilled player for his size. “ As long as he continues to progress he will be very good. Typically, bigger players take a little longer to develop. With freshmen, body development and fitness are always a process. I think he has the potential to play as a freshman but it would be unfair of us to put a lot of pressure on him—saying he will do this, that or the other thing. It takes ‘big kids’ a little bit to come around . He is very skilled. He can play with his back to the basket, do a lot of things and has the potential down the road to be a ‘very good’ basketball player and potentially a conference all-star.”
Vujisic and fellow recruit Jusuf Sehic (Burnaby, BC) are very familiar. Both played with Burnaby South when they won the Provincial 4A championship in 2018 and were club teammates for two AAU summer campaigns. “We had really good chemistry, “ he says of his past experience with Sehic.
The other committed high school recruit for the WolfPack program for 2020-21 is guard Jayden Lalonde of Kelowna Secondary.
Clark says these three recruits are conceivably the ‘core’ of the TRU program for years to come. “ Whenever you are talking about chemistry, it takes time. When we are talking time its not weeks, it is years. I think when you talk culture, it takes years to develop. I think the pieces are coming together. There is nothing that you can do. You can’t force chemistry or bonding. These take time but I like the pieces that we have been able to put together so far.”
DOUBLE DRIBBLES: Vujisic believes that he is coming to Thompson Rivers at a good time with a number of veterans (Kyrin Cybenko of Saskatoon, SK and Joe Davis of Kamloops, BC) graduating. “It is not every day that you have so many seniors graduating that all play the same position. I heard the team runs basketball camps for younger players which is really neat. I look forward to being a part of them and help give participants a lot of confidence to further develop their skills. Coach Clark told me he only recruits nice guys. If being a role model entails behaving and acting in a responsible and respectful manner, I think that is something that I have well under control.”
Clark speaks highly of Vujisic’s character, “ He is a very humble young man. A good student. He comes from a great home. His mom has done a very good job of raising him. I think with those things, he will fit in quite fine with what we have going on here with our basketball program. “
He adds that with the COVID-19 climate, he is very excited that he is being able to recruit top quality players like he has in Vujisic, Sehic and Lalonde.
Bell says Vujisic and Sehic will both transition nicely into the Thompson Rivers philosophy of community work and giving back. “Those are things we pride ourselves on at Burnaby South too. Both should be role models to both youngsters and fellow students.”